Proto-Celtic
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Proto-Celtic

The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the reconstructed ancestor language of all the known Celtic languages. Its lexis can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of the comparative method of historical linguistics. As Celtic is a branch of the Indo-European language family, Proto-Celtic is a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European language. According to one theory, Celtic may be closest to the Italic languages, which together form an Italo-Celtic branch. The earliest archaeological culture that may justifiably be considered as Proto-Celtic is the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of Central Europe from the last quarter of the second millennium BC.[1] By the Iron Age Hallstatt culture of around 800 BC, these people had become fully Celtic.[1]

The reconstruction of Proto-Celtic is currently being undertaken. While Continental Celtic presents much substantiation for its phonology, and some for morphology, recorded material is too scanty to allow a secure reconstruction of syntax. Although some complete sentences are recorded in Gaulish and Celtiberian, the oldest Celtic literature is found in Old Irish[2] and Middle Welsh.[3]

Sound changes from Proto-Indo-European

The phonological changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Celtic may be summarised as follows.[4] The changes are roughly in chronological order, with changes that operate on the outcome of earlier ones appearing later in the list.

Late Proto-Indo-European

These changes were shared by several other Indo-European branches.

  • *e is colored by an adjacent laryngeal consonant:
    • eh?, h?e > ah?, h?a
    • eh?, h?e > oh?, h?o
  • Palatovelars merge with the plain velars:
    • ? > k
    • ? > g
    • > g?
  • Epenthetic *a is inserted after a syllabic sonorant if a laryngeal and another sonorant follow (R?HR > RaHR)
  • Laryngeals are lost:
    • before a following vowel (HV > V)
    • following a vowel in syllables before the accent (VHC´ > VC´)
    • following a vowel with compensatory lengthening, otherwise (VH > V?)
    • between plosives in noninitial syllables (CHC > CC)
  • Two adjacent dentals become two adjacent sibilants (TT > ss)

Italo-Celtic

The following sound changes are shared with the Italic languages in particular, and can be used in support of the Italo-Celtic hypothesis.[5]

  • Dybo's rule: long close vowels are shortened (or a laryngeal is lost) before resonant + stressed vowel.
    • ?R´ / ? *iHR´ > iR´
    • ?R´ / ? *uHR´ > uR´
  • Possibly, postconsonantal laryngeals are lost before pretonic close vowels:
    • CHiC´ > CiC´
    • CHuC´ > CuC´
  • Development of initial stress, following the previous two changes.
  • Possibly, vocalization of laryngeals to *? between a *CR cluster and consonantal *j (CRHjV > CR?jV)
  • Syllabic laryngeals become *a (CHC > CaC)
  • Syllabic resonants before a voiced unaspirated stop become *Ra (R?D > RaD)
  • *m is assimilated or lost before a glide:
    • mj > nj
    • mw > w
  • *p assimilates to *k? when another *k? follows later in the word (p...k? > k?...k?)
  • sVs > ss, sTVs > Ts

One change shows non-exact parallels in Italic: the vocalization of syllabic resonants next to laryngeals depending on the environment. Similar developments appear in Italic, but for the syllabic nasals *m?, *n?, the result is Proto-Italic *?m, *?n (> Latin em ~ im, en ~ in).

  • Word-initially, HR?C > aRC
  • Before voiceless stops, CR?HT > CRaT
  • CR?HV > CaRHV
  • CR?HC > CR?C

Early Proto-Celtic

  • Sequences of velar and *w merge into the labiovelars (it is uncertain if this preceded or followed the next change; that is, whether gw > b or gw > g?):
    • kw > k?
    • gw > g?
    • g?w > g
  • g? > b
  • Aspirated stops lose their aspiration and merge with the voiced stops (except that this counterfeeds the previous change, so *g > *g? doesn't result in a merger):
    • b? > b
    • d? > d
    • g? > g
    • g > g?
  • *e before a resonant and *a (but not *?) becomes *a as well (eRa > aRa): *elH-ro > *gelaro > *galaro / *gérH-no > *gerano > *garano (Joseph's rule).
  • Epenthetic *i is inserted after syllabic liquids when followed by a plosive:
    • l?T > liT
    • r?T > riT
  • Epenthetic *a is inserted before the remaining syllabic resonants:
    • m? > am
    • n? > an
    • l? > al
    • r? > ar
  • All remaining nonsyllabic laryngeals are lost.
  • ? > ?
  • ? > ? in final syllables
  • Long vowels are shortened before a syllable-final resonant (V:RC > VRC); this also shortens long diphthongs. (Osthoff's law)

Late Proto-Celtic

  • Plosives become *x before a different plosive or *s (C?C? > xC?, Cs > xs)
  • p > b before liquids (pL > bL)
  • p > w before nasals (pN > wN)
  • p > ? (except possibly after *s)
  • ? > ?
  • ew > ow
  • uwa > owa

Examples

PIE Proto-Celtic Example
Proto-Celtic Old Irish Welsh
*p *? *ph?t?r > *?at?r 'father' athir cf. edrydd "home" (< *?atrijo-)
*t *t *tréi?es > *tr?s 'three' trí tri
*k, ? *k *kh?n?-e- > *kan-o- 'sing'
*?m?tom > *kantom 'hundred'
canaid
cét /k?e:d/
canu
cant
*k? *k? *k?etu?r?es > *k?etwares 'four' ceth(a)ir pedwar
*b *b *h?éb?l > *abalom 'apple' uball afal
*d *d *der?- > *derk- 'see' derc "eye" drych "sight"
*g, ? *g *gleh?i- > *gli-na- 'to glue'
*?en-u- > *genu- 'jaw'
glen(a)id "(he) sticks fast"
giun, gin "mouth"
glynu "adhere"
gên "jaw"
*g? *b *g?enh? > *bena 'woman' ben OW ben
*b? *b *b?ére- > *ber-o- 'carry' berid "(he) carries" adfer "to restore", cymeryd "to take"[6]
*d? *d *d?eh?i- > *di-na- 'suck' denait "they suck" dynu, denu
*g?, *g *g?h?b?-(e)i- > *gab-i- 'take'
*elH-ro- > *galaro- 'sickness'
ga(i)bid "(he) takes"
galar
gafael "hold"
galar "grief"
*g *g? *gn?- > *g?an-o- 'kill, wound' gonaid "(he) wounds, slays" gwanu "stab"
*s *s *sen-o- > *senos 'old' sen hen
*m *m *méh?t?r > *m?t?r 'mother' máthir cf. modryb "aunt"
*n *n *h?nép-?t- > *nets 'nephew' niad nai
*l *l *lei- > *lig-e/o- 'lick' ligid "(he) licks" llyo, llyfu
*r *r *h?r-s > *r?gs 'king' (gen. ríg) rhi
*j *j *h?i?uh?n-?ós > *juwankos 'young' óac ieuanc
*w *w *h?u?l?h?tí- > *wlatis 'rulership' flaith gwlad "country"
PIE Proto-Celtic Example
Proto-Celtic Old Irish Welsh
*a, h?e *a *h?ep-hn- > *ab? (acc. *abonen) 'river' aub afon
*?, *eh? *? *b?réh?t?r > *br?t?r 'brother' bráthir brawd
*e, h?e *e *sen-o- > *senos 'old' sen hen
*H (any laryngeal H between consonants)[7] *a *ph?t?r > *?at?r 'father' athir cf. edrydd "home"
*?, eh? *? *u?eh?-ro- > *w?ros 'true' fír gwir
*o, Ho, h?e *o *Hroth?o- > *rotos 'wheel' roth rhod
*?, eh? in final syllable, *? *h?nép-?t- > *nets 'nephew' niæ nai
elsewhere, *? *deh?no- > *d?no- 'gift' dán dawn
*i *i *g?ih?-tu- > *bitus 'world' bith byd
*?, iH *? *r?meh? > *r?m? 'number' rím rhif
*ai, h?ei, eh?i *ai *kaikos > *kaikos 'blind'
*seh?itlo- > *saitlo- 'age'
cáech "one-eyed"
--
coeg "empty, one-eyed"
hoedl
*(h?)ei, ?i, eh?i *ei *deiwos > *deiwos 'god' día duw
*oi, ?i, h?ei, eh?i *oi *oinos > *oinos 'one' óen oín; áen aín un
*u before wa, o *h?i?uh?n-?ós > early *juwankos > late *jowankos 'young' óac ieuanc
elsewhere, *u *srutos > *srutos 'stream' sruth ffrwd
*?, uH *? *ruHneh? > *r?n? 'mystery' rún rhin
*au, h?eu, eh?u *au *tausos > *tausos 'silent' táue "silence" < *tausij? taw
*(h?)eu, ?u, eh?u;
*ou, ?u, h?eu, eh?u
*ou *teuteh? > *tout? 'people'
*g?eh?-u-s > *bows 'cow'
túath
tud
MW bu, biw
*l? before stops, *li *pl?th?nós > *?litanos 'wide' lethan llydan
before other consonants, *al *kl?h?- > *kalj?kos 'rooster' cailech (Ogam gen. caliaci) ceiliog
*r? before stops, *ri *b?r?ti- > *briti- 'act of bearing; mind' breth, brith bryd
before other consonants, *ar *mr?u?os > *marwos 'dead' marb marw
*m? *am *dm?-nh?- > *damna- 'subdue' MIr damnaid "he ties, fastens, binds" --
*n? *an *h?dn?t- > *danton 'tooth' dét /d?e:d/ dant
*l?H before obstruents, *la *h?u?lh?tí- > *wlatis 'lordship' flaith gwlad "country"
before sonorants, *l? *pl?Hmeh? > *?l?m? 'hand' lám llaw
*r?H before obstruents, *ra *mr?Htom > *mratom 'betrayal' mrath brad
before sonorants, *r? *?r?Hnom > *gr?nom 'grain' grán grawn
*m?H *am/m?
(presumably same distribution as above)
*dm?h?-i?e/o- > *damje/o- 'to tame' daimid "endures, suffers; submits to, permits", fodam- goddef "endure, suffer"
*n?H *an or *n?
(presumably same distribution as above)
probably *?n?h?to- > *gn?tos 'known' gnáth gnawd "customary"

Phonological reconstruction

Consonants

The following consonants have been reconstructed for Proto-Celtic:

Type  Bilabial   Alveolar   Palatal   Velar 
plain labialised
Plosive b t d k ? k?
Nasal m n
Fricative ? s
Approximant l j w
Trill r

In contrast to the parent language, Proto-Celtic does not use aspiration as a feature for distinguishing phonemes. So the Proto-Indo-European voiced aspirated stops *b?, *d?, *g?/ merged with *b, *d, *g/?. The voiced aspirate labiovelar *g did not merge with *g?, though: plain *g? became *b in Proto-Celtic, while aspirated *g became *g?. Thus, PIE *g?en- 'woman' became Old Irish ben and Old Welsh ben, but PIE *gn?- 'to kill, to wound' became Old Irish gonaid and Welsh gwanu.

Proto-Indo-European *p was lost in Proto-Celtic, apparently going through the stages *? (as in the table above) and *h (perhaps attested by the toponym Hercynia if this is of Celtic origin) before being lost completely word-initially and between vowels. Adjacent to consonants, Proto-Celtic *? underwent different changes: the clusters *?s and *?t became *xs and *xt respectively already in Proto-Celtic. PIE *sp- became Old Irish s (lenited f-, exactly as for PIE *sw-) and Brythonic f; while Schrijver 1995, p. 348 argues there was an intermediate stage *s?- (in which *? remained an independent phoneme until after Proto-Insular Celtic had diverged into Goidelic and Brythonic), McCone 1996, pp. 44-45 finds it more economical to believe that *sp- remained unchanged in PC, that is, the change *p to *? did not happen when *s preceded. (Similarly, Grimm's law did not apply to *p, t, k after *s in Germanic, and later the same exception occurred again in the High German consonant shift.)

Proto-Celtic Old Irish Welsh
*la?s- > *laxs- 'shine' las-aid llach-ar
*se?tam > *sextam 'seven' secht saith
*s?eret- or *speret- 'heel' seir ffêr

In Gaulish and the Brythonic languages, a new *p sound has arisen as a reflex of the Proto-Indo-European *k? phoneme. Consequently, one finds Gaulish petuar[ios], Welsh pedwar "four", compared to Old Irish cethair and Latin quattuor. Insofar as this new /p/ fills the space in the phoneme inventory which was lost by the disappearance of the equivalent stop in PIE, we may think of this as a chain shift.

The terms P-Celtic and Q-Celtic are useful when we wish to group the Celtic languages according to the way they handle this one phoneme. However a simple division into P- and Q-Celtic may be untenable, as it does not do justice to the evidence of the ancient Continental Celtic languages. The large number of unusual shared innovations among the Insular Celtic languages are often also presented as evidence against a P-Celtic vs Q-Celtic division, but they may instead reflect a common substratum influence from the pre-Celtic languages of Britain and Ireland,[1], or simply continuing contact between the insular languages; in either case they would be irrelevant to Celtic language classification in the genetic sense.

Q-Celtic languages may also have /p/ in loan words, though in early borrowings from Welsh into Primitive Irish /k?/ was used by sound substitution due to a lack of a /p/ phoneme at the time:

  • Latin Patricius "Saint Patrick"' > Welsh > Primitive Irish Qatrikias > Old Irish Cothrige, later Padraig;
  • Latin presbyter "priest" > early form of word seen in Old Welsh premter primter > Primitive Irish qrimitir > Old Irish cruimther.

Gaelic póg "kiss" was a later borrowing (from the second word of the Latin phrase osculum pacis "kiss of peace") at a stage where p was borrowed directly as p, without substituting c.

Vowels

The Proto-Celtic vowel system is highly comparable to that reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European by Antoine Meillet. The following monophthongs have been reconstructed:

Type Front Central Back
long short long short long short
Close i: i   u: u
Mid e   o
Open   a: a  

The following diphthongs have also been reconstructed:

Type With -i With -u
With e- ei
With a- ai au
With o- oi ou

Morphology

Nouns

The morphology (structure) of nouns and adjectives demonstrates no arresting alterations from the parent language. Proto-Celtic is believed to have had nouns in three genders, three numbers and five to eight cases. The genders were the normal masculine, feminine and neuter, the three numbers were singular, plural and dual. The number of cases is a subject of contention:[8] while Old Irish may have only five, the evidence from Continental Celtic is considered[by whom?] rather unambiguous despite appeals to archaic retentions or morphological leveling. These cases were nominative, vocative, accusative, dative, genitive, ablative, locative and instrumental.

Nouns fall into nine or so declensions, depending on the stem. There are *o-stems, *?-stems, *i-stems, *u-stems, dental stems, velar stems, nasal stems, *r-stems and *s-stems.

*o-stem nouns

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *makk?os *makk?ou *makk?oi
Vocative *makk?e *makk?ou *makks
Accusative *makk?om *makk?ou *makks
Genitive *makk *makks *makk?om
Dative *makki *makk?obom *makk?obos
Ablative *makk *makk?obim *makk?obis
Instrumental *makk *makk?obim *makks
Locative *makk?ei *makk?ou *makk?obis
  • d?nom 'stronghold' (neuter)
Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *d?nom *d?nou *d?n?
Vocative *d?nom *d?nou *d?n?
Accusative *d?nom *d?nou *d?n?
Genitive *d?n? *d?n?s *d?nom
Dative *d?n?i *d?nobom *d?nobos
Ablative *d?n? *d?nobim *d?nobis
Instrumental *d?n? *d?nobim *d?n?s
Locative *d?nei *d?nou *d?nobis

*?-stem nouns

E.g. *?l?m? 'hand' (feminine) (Old Irish lám; Welsh llaw, Cornish leuv, Old Breton lom)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *?l?m? *?l?mai *?l?m?s
Vocative *?l?m? *?l?mai *?l?m?s
Accusative *?l?m?m *?l?mai *?l?m?s
Genitive *?l?m?s *?l?majous *?l?mom
Dative *?l?m?i *?l?m?bom *?l?m?bos
Ablative *?l?m? *?l?m?bim *?l?m?bis
Instrumental *?l?m? *?l?m?bim *?l?m?bis
Locative *?l?m?i *?l?m?bim *?l?m?bis

E.g. *wolk?s 'hawker' (masculine) (Gallic Latinised Volcae)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *wolk?s *wolkai *wolk?s
Vocative *wolk? *wolkai *wolk?s
Accusative *wolk?m *wolkai *wolk?s
Genitive *wolk?s *wolkajous *wolkom
Dative *wolk?i *wolk?bom *wolk?bos
Ablative *wolk? *wolk?bim *wolk?bis
Instrumental *wolk? *wolk?bim *wolk?bis
Locative *wolk?i *wolk?bim *wolk?bis

*i-stems

E.g. *s?lis 'sight, view, eye' (feminine) (Brittonic sulis ~ Old Irish súil)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *s?lis *s?l? *s?l?s
Vocative *s?li *s?l? *s?l?s
Accusative *s?lim *s?l? *s?l?s
Genitive *s?leis *s?ljous *s?ljom
Dative *s?lei *s?libom *s?libos
Ablative *s?l? *s?libim *s?libis
Instrumental *s?l? *s?libim *s?libis
Locative *s?l? *s?libim *s?libis

E.g. *mori 'body of water, sea' (neuter) (Gallic Mori- ~ Old Irish muir ~ Welsh môr)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *mori *mor? *morj?
Vocative *mori *mor? *morj?
Accusative *mori *mor? *morj?
Genitive *moreis *morjous *morjom
Dative *morei *moribom *moribos
Ablative *mor? *moribim *moribis
Instrumental *mor? *moribim *moribis
Locative *mor? *moribim *moribis

*u-stem nouns

E.g. *bitus 'world, existence' (masculine) (Gallic Bitu- ~ Old Irish bith ~ Welsh byd ~ Breton bed)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *bitus *bitou *bitowes
Vocative *bitu *bitou *bitowes
Accusative *bitum *bitou *bit?s
Genitive *bitous *bitowou *bitowom
Dative *bitou *bitubom *bitubos
Ablative *bit? *bitubim *bitubis
Instrumental *bit? *bitubim *bitubis
Locative *bit? *bitubim *bitubis

E.g. *d?nu 'valley river' (neuter?)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *d?nu *d?nou *d?nw?
Vocative *d?nu *d?nou *d?nw?
Accusative *d?nu *d?nou *d?nw?
Genitive *d?nous *d?nowou *d?nowom
Dative *d?nou *d?nubom *d?nubos
Ablative *d?n? *d?nubim *d?nubis
Instrumental *d?n? *d?nubim *d?nubis
Locative *d?n? *d?nubim *d?nubis

Velar and dental stems

Before the *-s of the nominative singular, a velar consonant was fricated to *-x : *r?g- "king" > *r?xs. Likewise, final *-d devoiced to *-t-: *druwid- "druid" > *druwits.[9]

E.g. *r?xs 'king' (masculine) (Gallic -rix; Old Irish ; Middle Welsh rhi, Old Breton ri)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *r?xs *r?ge *r?ges
Vocative *r?xs *r?ge *r?ges
Accusative *r?gam *r?ge *r?g?s
Genitive *r?gos *r?gou *r?gom
Dative *r?gei *r?gobom *r?gobos
Ablative *r?g? *r?gobim *r?gobis
Instrumental *r?ge *r?gobim *r?gobis
Locative *r?gi *r?gobim *r?gobis

E.g. *druwits 'druid' (masculine) (Gallic druis; Old Irish druí; Middle Welsh dryw "druid; wren", Old Cornish druw)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *druwits *druwide *druwides
Vocative *druwits *druwide *druwides
Accusative *druwidem *druwide *druwid?s
Genitive *druwidos *druwidou *druwidom
Dative *druwidei *druwidobom *druwidobos
Ablative *druwid? *druwidobim *druwidobis
Instrumental *druwide *druwidobim *druwidobis
Locative *druwidi *druwidobim *druwidobis

E.g. *karnuxs 'carnyx' (masculine?)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *karnuxs *karnuke *karnukes
Vocative *karnuxs *karnuke *karnukes
Accusative *karnukam *karnuke *karnuk?s
Genitive *karnukos *karnukou *karnukom
Dative *karnukei *karnukobom *karnukobos
Ablative *karnuk? *karnukobim *karnukobis
Instrumental *karnuke *karnukobim *karnukobis
Locative *karnuki *karnukobim *karnukobis

E.g. *karants 'friend' (masculine) (Gallic carant-; Old Irish cara; Welsh câr "kinsman; friend", pl. ceraint, Breton kar "relative", pl. kerent)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *karants *karante *karantes
Vocative *karants *karante *karantes
Accusative *karantam *karante *karant?s
Genitive *karantos *karantou *karantom
Dative *karantei *karantobom *karantobos
Ablative *karant? *karantobim *karantobis
Instrumental *karante *karantobim *karantobis
Locative *karanti *karantobim *karantobis

Nasal stems

Generally, nasal stems end in *-on-; this becomes *-? in the nominative singular: *abon- "river" > *ab?.

E.g. *ab? 'river' (feminine) (Welsh afon, Breton (obs.) aven, Scottish Gaelic abhainn)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *ab? *abone *abones
Vocative *ab? *abone *abones
Accusative *abonam *abone *abon?s
Genitive *abonos *abonou *abonom
Dative *abonei *abnobom *abnobos
Ablative *abon? *abnobim *abnobis
Instrumental *abone *abnobim *abnobis
Locative *aboni *abnobim *abnobis

E.g. *anman 'name' (neuter) (Gaulish anuan-; Old Irish ainm; Breton anv; Welsh enw)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *anman *anmane *anmanes
Vocative *anman *anmane *anmanes
Accusative *anmanam *anmane *anman?s
Genitive *anmanos *anmanou *anmanom
Dative *anmanei *anmanobom *anmanobos
Ablative *anman? *anmanobim *anmanobis
Instrumental *anmane *anmanobim *anmanobis
Locative *anmani *anmanobim *anmanobis

*s-stem nouns

Generally, *s-stems end in *-es-, which becomes *-os in the nominative singular: *teges- 'house' > *tegos.

E.g. *tegos 'house' (masculine), Old Irish teg, tech, dative tigh; Welsh t?, Breton ti.

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *tegos *tegese *tegeses
Vocative *tegos *tegese *tegeses
Accusative *tegesam *tegese *teges?s
Genitive *tegesos *tegesou *tegesom
Dative *tegesei *tegesobom *tegesobos
Ablative *teges? *tegesobim *tegesobis
Instrumental *tegese *tegesobim *tegesobis
Locative *tegesi *tegesobim *tegesobis

*r-stem nouns

  • r-stems are rare and principally confined to names of relatives. Typically they end in *-ter-, which becomes *-t?r in the nominative and *-tr- in all other cases aside from the accusative: *?ater- 'father' > *?at?r, *?atros.

E.g. *?at?r 'father' (masculine)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *?at?r *?atere *?ateres
Vocative *?at?r *?atere *?ateres
Accusative *?ateram *?atere *?ater?s
Genitive *?atros *?atrou *?atrom
Dative *?atrei *?atrebom *?atrebos
Ablative *?atr? *?atrebim *?atrebis
Instrumental *?atre *?atrebim *?atrebis
Locative *?atri *?atrebim *?atrebis

E.g. *m?t?r 'mother' (feminine)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *m?t?r *m?tere *m?teres
Vocative *m?t?r *m?tere *m?teres
Accusative *m?teram *m?tere *m?ter?s
Genitive *m?tros *m?trou *m?trom
Dative *m?trei *m?trebom *m?trebos
Ablative *m?tr? *m?trebim *m?trebis
Instrumental *m?tre *m?trebim *m?trebis
Locative *m?tri *m?trebim *m?trebis

Verbs

From comparison between early Old Irish and Gaulish forms it seems that Continental and Insular Celtic verbs were to develop differently and so the study of Irish and Welsh may have unduly weighted past opinion of proto-Celtic verbal morphology.[] It can be inferred from Gaulish and Celtiberian as well as Insular Celtic that the proto-Celtic verb had at least three moods:

  • indicative -- seen in e.g. 1st sg. Gaulish delgu "I hold", Old Irish tongu "I swear"
  • imperative -- seen in e.g. 3rd sg. Celtiberian usabituz, Gaulish appisetu
  • subjunctive -- seen in e.g. 3rd sg. Gaulish buetid "may he be", Celtiberian asekati

and four tenses:

  • present -- seen in e.g. Gaulish uediíu-mi "I pray", Celtiberian zizonti "they sow"
  • preterite -- seen in e.g. 3rd sg. Gaulish sioxti, Lepontic KariTe
  • imperfect -- perhaps in Celtiberian kombalkez, atibion
  • future -- seen in e.g. 3rd sg. Gaulish bissiet, Old Irish bieid "he shall be"

A probable optative mood also features in Gaulish (tixsintor) and an infinitive (with a characteristic ending -unei) in Celtiberian.[10][11]

Verbs were formed by adding suffixes to a verbal stem. The stem might be thematic or athematic, an open or a closed syllable.

Example conjugations

Scholarly reconstructions [4][12][13][14] may be summarised in tabular format.

Conjugation like *bere/o- 'bear, carry, flow'
Person Pres Impf Fut Pst
Act Pss Act Pss Act Pss Act Pss
Ind 1.sg *ber?(mi) *ber?r *berennem *- *bibr?m *bibr?r *bert? *-
2.sg *beresi *beretar *ber?t? *- *bibr?si *bibr?tar *bertes *-
3.sg *bereti *beretor *bere(to) *beretei *bibr?ti *bibr?tor *bert *brito
1.pl *beromu(sn?s) *berommor *beremmets *- *bibr?mes *bibr?mmor *bertomu *-
2.pl *berete *beredwe *beretes (OI) ~ *bere-sw?s (B) *- *bibr?te *bibr?dwe *bertete *-
3.pl *beronti *berontor *berentets *berentits (?) *bibr?nt *bibr?ntor *bertont *brit?nts
Sbj 1.sg *ber?m *ber?r *ber?nnem *- *- *- *- *-
2.sg *ber?si *ber?tar *ber?t? *- *- *- *- *-
3.sg *ber?ti *ber?tor *ber?(to) *- *- *- *- *-
1.pl *ber?mes *ber?mmor *ber?mmets *- *- *- *- *-
2.pl *ber?te *ber?dwe *ber?tes (OI) ~ *ber?-sw?s (B) *- *- *- *- *-
3.pl *ber?nti *ber?ntor *ber?ntets *- *- *- *- *-
Imp 1.sg *- *- *- *- *- *- *- *-
2.sg *ber?! *beretar! *- *- *- *- *- *-
3.sg *beret! *beror! *- *- *- *- *- *-
1.pl *beromu! *berommor! *- *- *- *- *- *-
2.pl *beret?s! *beredwe! *- *- *- *- *- *-
3.pl *beront! *berontor! *- *- *- *- *- *-
VN (unmarked) *berowon- *- *- *- *- *- *' *britu-s
Ptple (unmarked) *beront- *beromno- *- *beretejo- *- *- *bertjo- *brito-
Conjugation like *m?r?- 'greaten, magnify, enlarge'
Person Pres Impf Fut Pst
Act Pss Act Pss Act Pss Act Pss
Ind 1.sg *m?r?mi *m?r?r *m?r?nnem *- *m?risw?mi *m?risw?r *m?r?ts? *-
2.sg *m?r?si *m?r?tar *m?r?t? *- *m?risw?si *m?risw?tar *m?r?tssi *-
3.sg *m?r?ti *m?r?tor *m?r?(to) *m?r?tei *m?risw?ti *m?risw?tor *m?r?tsti *-
1.pl *m?r?mu(sn?s) *m?r?mmor *m?r?mmets *- *m?risw?mos *m?risw?mmor *m?r?tsomu *-
2.pl *m?r?te *m?r?dwe *m?r?tes (OI) ~ *m?r?-sw?s (B) *- *m?risw?te *m?risw?dwe *m?r?tsete *-
3.pl *m?r?nti *m?r?ntor *m?r?ntets *m?r?ntits (?) *m?risw?nti *m?risw?ntor *m?r?tsont *m?r?t?nts (?)
Sbj 1.sg *m?r?m *m?ror *m?ronnem *- *- *- *- *-
2.sg *m?rosi *m?rotar *m?rot? *- *- *- *- *-
3.sg *m?roti *m?rotor *m?ro(to) *- *- *- *- *-
1.pl *m?romes *m?rommor *m?rommets *- *- *- *- *-
2.pl *m?rote *m?rodwe *m?rotes (OI) ~ *m?ro-sw?s (B) *- *- *- *- *-
3.pl *m?ronti *m?rontor *m?rontets *- *- *- *- *-
Imp 1.sg *- *- *- *- *- *- *- *-
2.sg *m?r?! *m?r?tr?s! *- *- *- *- *- *-
3.sg *m?r?t! *m?r?r! *- *- *- *- *- *-
1.pl *m?r?mu! *m?r?mmor! *- *- *- *- *- *-
2.pl *m?r?t?s! *m?r?dwe! *- *- *- *- *- *-
3.pl *m?r?nt! *m?r?ntor! *- *- *- *- *- *-
VN (unmarked) *m?r?won- *- *- *- *- *- *' *m?r?tu-s
Ptple (unmarked) *m?r?nt- *m?r?mno- *- *m?r?tejo- *- *- *m?r?tjo- *m?r?to-

Dating

Proto-Celtic is mostly dated to roughly 800 BC (Hallstatt C), see Celtic languages.[]

In the first decade of the 21st century a number of scholars addressed this question using computational methods, with differing results. Gray and Atkinson estimated a date of 6100 BP (4100 BC) while Forster and Toth suggest a date of 3200 BC ±1500 years for the arrival of Celtic in Britain,[15] but such early dates are not generally accepted.[]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b Chadwick with Corcoran, Nora with J.X.W.P. (1970). The Celts. Penguin Books. pp. 28-33.
  2. ^ Celtic literature at britannica.com, accessed 7 February 2018
  3. ^ Rhys, John (1905). Evans, E. Vincent (ed.). "The Origin of the Welsh Englyn and Kindred Metres". Y Cymmrodor. London: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. XVIII.
  4. ^ a b Matasovi? 2009.
  5. ^ Schrijver 2015, pp. 196-197.
  6. ^ Welsh adfer 'to restore' < *ate-ber-, cymeryd < obsolete cymer < MW cymeraf < *kom-ber- (with -yd taken from the verbal noun cymryd < *kom-britu).
  7. ^ However, according to Hackstein (2002) *CH.CC > Ø in unstressed medial syllables. Thus, H can disappear in weak cases while being retained in strong cases, e.g. IE nom.sg. *d?ugh?t?r vs. gen.sg. *d?ugtr-os 'daughter' > early PCelt. *dugater- ~ dugtr-. This then led to a paradigmatic split, resulting in Celtiberian gen.sg. tuateros, nom.pl. tuateres vs. Gaulish duxtir (< *dugt?r). (Zair 2012: 161, 163).
  8. ^ Pedersen, Holger (1913). Vergleichende Grammatik der keltischen Sprachen, 2. Band, Bedeutungslehre (Wortlehre). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 978-3-525-26119-4.
  9. ^ passim in Whitley Stokes D.C.L., Hon VII. Celtic Declension. "Transactions of the Philological Society" Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 97-201, November 1887
  10. ^ Stefan Schumacher, Die keltischen Primärverben: Ein vergleichendes, etymologisches und morphologisches Lexikon (Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität, 2003).
  11. ^ Pierre-Yves Lambert, La Langue gauloise: Description linguistique, commentaire d'inscriptions choisies (Paris: Errance, 2003).
  12. ^ Alexander MacBain, 1911, xxxvi-xxxvii; An etymological dictionary of the Gaelic language; Stirling: Eneas MacKay
  13. ^ Alan Ward, A Checklist of Proto-Celtic Lexical Items (1982, revised 1996), 7-14.
  14. ^ Examples of attested Gaulish verbs at http://www.angelfire.com/me/ik/gaulish.html
  15. ^ Forster, Peter; Toth, Alfred (2003). "Toward a phylogenetic chronology of ancient Gaulish, Celtic, and Indo-European". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 100 (15): 9079-9084. Bibcode:2003PNAS..100.9079F. doi:10.1073/pnas.1331158100. PMC 166441. PMID 12837934.

Bibliography

External links

The Leiden University has compiled etymological dictionaries of various IE languages, a project supervised by Alexander Lubotsky and which includes a Proto-Celtic dictionary by Ranko Matasovi?. Those dictionaries published by Brill in the Leiden series have been removed from the University databases for copyright reasons. Alternatively, a reference for Proto-Celtic vocabulary is provided by the University of Wales at the following sites:


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