Proto-Celtic language

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The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all the known Celtic languages, and a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European language. It is not directly attested in writing, but has been partially reconstructed through the comparative method. Proto-Celtic is generally believed to have been spoken between 1300 and 800 BC, after which it began to evolve into individual Celtic languages. Proto-Celtic is usually associated with the Urnfield or Hallstatt archaeological cultures. Celtic languages share common features with Italic languages that are not found in other branches of Indo-European, suggesting the possibility that an earlier Italo-Celtic linguistic unity may have existed.

Proto-Celtic
PC, Common Celtic
Reconstruction ofCeltic languages
RegionCentral or Western Europe
Eraca. 1300–800 BC
Reconstructed
ancestor

The reconstruction of Proto-Celtic is currently being undertaken, by necessity relying on later iterations of Celtic languages. Although Continental Celtic presents much substantiation for Proto-Celtic phonology, and some for its morphology, recorded material is too scanty to allow a secure reconstruction of syntax, although some complete sentences are recorded in the Continental Gaulish and Celtiberian. Therefore, the primary sources for reconstruction come from the Insular Celtic languages with the oldest literature found in Old Irish[1] and Middle Welsh,[2] dating back to authors flourishing in the 6th century AD.

DatingEdit

Proto-Celtic is mostly dated to the Late Bronze Age, ca. 1200–900 BC.[3] The word for 'iron', traditionally reconstructed to Proto-Celtic as *īsarnom, in particular, has long been taken as an indication that the divergence into individual Celtic languages did not start until the Iron Age (the 8th century BC at the latest), but Schumacher[4] and Schrijver[5] have proposed to date Proto-Celtic as early as the 13th century BC, the time of the Canegrate culture, in northwestern Italy, and the Urnfield culture in Central Europe, implying that the divergence may have already started in the Bronze Age.

Sound changes from Proto-Indo-EuropeanEdit

The phonological changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Celtic may be summarised as follows.[6] 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-EuropeanEdit

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

  • *e is colored by an adjacent laryngeal consonant:
    • eh₂, h₂e > ah₂, h₂a
    • eh₃, h₃e > oh₃, h₃o
  • Palatovelars merge into the plain velars:
    • ḱ > k
    • ǵ > g
    • ǵʰ > gʰ
  • Epenthetic *a is inserted after a syllabic sonorant if a laryngeal and another sonorant follow (R̥HR > RaHR)
  • Laryngeals are lost:
    • before a following vowel (HV > V)
    • following a vowel in syllables before the accent (VHC´ > VC´)
    • following a vowel, resulting in compensatory lengthening, thus (VH > V̄)
    • between plosives in non-initial syllables (CHC > CC)
  • Two adjacent dentals become two adjacent sibilants (TT > ss)

Italo-CelticEdit

The following sound changes are shared with the Italic languages in particular, and are cited in support of the Italo-Celtic hypothesis.[7]

  • Dybo's rule: long close vowels are shortened (or a laryngeal is lost) before resonant + stressed vowel.
    • īR´ / ? *iHR´ > iR´
    • ūR´ / ? *uHR´ > uR´
  • Possibly, post-consonantal laryngeals are lost when before pre-tonic close vowels:
    • CHiC´ > CiC´
    • CHuC´ > CuC´
  • Development of initial stress, following the previous two changes.
  • Possibly, vocalization of laryngeals to *ī between a *CR cluster and consonantal *j (CRHjV > CRījV)
  • Syllabic laryngeals become *a (CHC > CaC)
  • Syllabic resonants before a voiced unaspirated stop become *Ra (R̥D > RaD)
  • *m is assimilated or lost before a glide:
    • mj > nj
    • mw > w
  • *p assimilates to *kʷ when another *kʷ follows later in the word (p…kʷ > kʷ…kʷ)
  • 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 *m̥, *n̥, the result is Proto-Italic *əm, *ən (> Latin em ~ im, en ~ in).

  • Word-initially, HR̥C > aRC
  • Before voiceless stops, CR̥HT > CRaT
  • CR̥HV > CaRHV
  • CR̥HC > CRāC

Early Proto-CelticEdit

  • 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 > gʷ, but Schumacher 2004 argues on p. 372 that this change came first; moreover, it is also found in Proto-Italic, and thus arguably belongs to the previous section):
    • kw > kʷ
    • gw > gʷ
    • gʰw > gʷʰ
  • gʷ > b
  • Aspirated stops lose their aspiration and merge with the voiced stops (except that this counterfeeds the previous change, so *gʷʰ > *gʷ doesn't result in a merger):
    • bʰ > b
    • dʰ > d
    • gʰ > g
    • gʷʰ > gʷ
  • *e before a resonant and *a (but not *ā) becomes *a as well (eRa > aRa): *ǵʰelH-ro > *gelaro > *galaro / *gérH-no > *gerano > *garano (Joseph's rule).
  • Epenthetic *i is inserted after syllabic liquids when followed by a plosive:
    • l̥T > liT
    • r̥T > riT
  • Epenthetic *a is inserted before the remaining syllabic resonants:
    • m̥ > am
    • n̥ > an
    • l̥ > al
    • r̥ > ar
  • All remaining nonsyllabic laryngeals are lost.
  • ē > ī
  • ō > ū 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-CelticEdit

  • Plosives become *x before a different plosive or *s (C₁C₂ > xC₂, Cs > xs)
  • p > b before liquids (pL > bL)
  • p > w before nasals (pN > wN)
  • p > ɸ (except possibly after *s)
  • ō > ā
  • ew > ow
  • uwa > owa

ExamplesEdit

PIE Proto-Celtic Example
Proto-Celtic Old Irish Welsh
*p *ɸ *ph₂tḗr > *ɸatīr 'father' athir cf. edrydd "home" (< *ɸatrijo-)
*t *t *tréyes > *trīs 'three' trí tri
*k, ḱ *k *kh₂n̥-e- > *kan-o- 'sing'
*ḱm̥tom > *kantom 'hundred'
canaid
cét /kʲeːd/
canu
cant
* * *kʷetwr̥es > *kʷetwares 'four' ceth(a)ir pedwar
*b *b *h₂ébōl > *abalom 'apple' uball afal
*d *d *derḱ- > *derk- 'see' derc "eye" drych "sight"
*g, ǵ *g *gleh₁i- > *gli-na- 'to glue'
*ǵen-u- > *genu- 'jaw'
glen(a)id "(he) sticks fast"
giun, gin "mouth"
glynu "adhere"
gên "jaw"
* *b *gʷenh₂ > *bena 'woman' ben OW ben
* *b *bʰére- > *ber-o- 'carry' berid "(he) carries" adfer "to restore", cymeryd "to take"[8]
* *d *dʰeh₁i- > *di-na- 'suck' denait "they suck" dynu, denu
*gʰ, ǵʰ *g *gʰh₁bʰ-(e)y- > *gab-i- 'take'
*ǵʰelH-ro- > *galaro- 'sickness'
ga(i)bid "(he) takes"
galar
gafael "hold"
galar "grief"
*gʷʰ * *gʷʰn̥- > *gʷan-o- 'kill, wound' gonaid "(he) wounds, slays" gwanu "stab"
*s *s *sen-o- > *senos 'old' sen hen
*m *m *méh₂tēr > *mātīr 'mother' máthir cf. modryb "aunt"
*n *n *h₂nép-ōt- > *neɸūts 'nephew' niad nai
*l *l *leyǵʰ- > *lig-e/o- 'lick' ligid "(he) licks" llyo, llyfu
*r *r *h₃rēǵ-s > *rīgs 'king' (gen. ríg) rhi
*j *j *h₂yuh₁n-ḱós > *juwankos 'young' óac ieuanc
*w *w *h₂wl̥h₁tí- > *wlatis 'rulership' flaith gwlad "country"
PIE Proto-Celtic Example
Proto-Celtic Old Irish Welsh
*a, h₂e *a *h₂ep-h₃ōn- > *abū (acc. *abonen) 'river' aub afon
*ā, *eh₂ *ā *bʰréh₂tēr > *brātīr 'brother' bráthir brawd
*e, h₁e *e *sen-o- > *senos 'old' sen hen
*H (any laryngeal H between consonants)[9] *a *ph₂tḗr > *ɸatīr 'father' athir cf. edrydd "home"
*ē, eh₁ *ī *weh₁-ro- > *wīros 'true' fír gwir
*o, Ho, h₃e *o *Hroth₂o- > *rotos 'wheel' roth rhod
*ō, eh₃ in final syllable, *ū *h₂nép-ōt- > *neɸūts 'nephew' niæ nai
elsewhere, *ā *deh₃no- > *dāno- 'gift' dán dawn
*i *i *gʷih₃-tu- > *bitus 'world' bith byd
*ī, iH *ī *rīmeh₂ > *rīmā 'number' rím rhif
*ai, h₂ei, eh₂i *ai *kaikos > *kaikos 'blind'
*seh₂itlo- > *saitlo- 'age'
cáech "one-eyed"
coeg "empty, one-eyed"
hoedl
*(h₁)ei, ēi, eh₁i *ei *deywos > *deiwos 'god' día duw
*oi, ōi, h₃ei, eh₃i *oi *oynos > *oinos 'one' óen oín; áen aín un
*u before wa, o *h₂yuh₁n-ḱós > early *juwankos > late *jowankos 'young' óac ieuanc
elsewhere, *u *srutos > *srutos 'stream' sruth ffrwd
*ū, uH *ū *ruHneh₂ > *rūnā 'mystery' rún rhin
*au, h₂eu, eh₂u *au *tausos > *tausos 'silent' táue "silence" < *tausijā taw
*(h₁)eu, ēu, eh₁u;
*ou, ōu, h₃eu, eh₃u
*ou *tewteh₂ > *toutā 'people'
*gʷeh₃-u-s > *bows 'cow'
túath
tud
MW bu, biw
* before stops, *li *pl̥th₂nós > *ɸlitanos 'wide' lethan llydan
before other consonants, *al *kl̥h₁- > *kaljākos 'rooster' cailech (Ogam gen. caliaci) ceiliog
*r̥ before stops, *ri *bʰr̥ti- > *briti- 'act of bearing; mind' breth, brith bryd
before other consonants, *ar *mr̥wos > *marwos 'dead' marb marw
* *am *dm̥-nh₂- > *damna- 'subdue' MIr damnaid "he ties, fastens, binds"
* *an *h₃dn̥t- > *danton 'tooth' dét /dʲeːd/ dant
*l̥H before obstruents, *la *h₂wlh₁tí- > *wlatis 'lordship' flaith gwlad "country"
before sonorants, * *pl̥Hmeh₂ > *ɸlāmā 'hand' lám llaw
*r̥H before obstruents, *ra *mr̥Htom > *mratom 'betrayal' mrath brad
before sonorants, * *ǵr̥Hnom > *grānom 'grain' grán grawn
*m̥H *am/mā
(presumably same distribution as above)
*dm̥h₂-ye/o- > *damje/o- 'to tame' daimid "endures, suffers; submits to, permits", fodam- goddef "endure, suffer"
*n̥H *an or *
(presumably same distribution as above)
probably *ǵn̥h₃to- > *gnātos 'known' gnáth gnawd "customary"

Phonological reconstructionEdit

ConsonantsEdit

The following consonants have been reconstructed for Proto-Celtic:

Type  Bilabial   Alveolar   Palatal   Velar 
plain labialized
Plosive b t d k ɡ ɡʷ
Nasal m n
Fricative ɸ s x
Approximant l j w
Trill r

Allophones of plosivesEdit

Proto-Celtic stops allophonically manifested similarly to those in modern English. Voiceless stop phonemes /t k/ were aspirated in word-initial position except when preceded by /s/, creating aspirated allophones [tʰ kʰ]. Additionally, unaspirated voiced stop phonemes /b d ɡ/ were devoiced to [p t k] word-initially.[10][11]

This allophony may be reconstructed to Proto-Celtic from the following considerations:[10][11]

  • Modern Celtic languages like Welsh, Breton, and all modern Goidelic languages have such plosive aspiration and voice allophony already attested.
  • Several old Celtic languages (such as Old Irish, Old Welsh, and Lepontic) used letters for voiceless stop phonemes to write both voiceless stop phonemes and their voiced counterparts, especially non-word-initially.
  • The Celtiberian Luzaga's Bronze has the curious spelling of an accusative determiner sdam, where the d is clearly meant to spell a [t]. This implies that /d/ in Celtiberian had a voiceless allophone [t].

Evolution of plosivesEdit

In contrast to the parent language, Proto-Celtic had Proto-Indo-European voiced aspirated stops *, *, *gʰ/ǵʰ merge with *b, *d, *g/ǵ. The voiced aspirate labiovelar *gʷʰ did not merge with *, though: plain * became *b in Proto-Celtic, while aspirated *gʷʰ became *. Thus, PIE *gʷen- 'woman' became Old Irish ben and Old Welsh ben, but PIE *gʷʰn̥- '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 *ɸ (possibly through a stage [pʰ])[10] 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 *ɸ underwent different changes: the clusters *ɸs and *ɸt 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 *sɸ- (in which *ɸ 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 *ɸ 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
*laɸs- > *laxs- 'shine' las-aid llach-ar
*seɸtam > *sextam 'seven' secht saith
*sɸeret- or *speret- 'heel' seir ffêr

In Gaulish and the Brittonic languages, a new *p sound has arisen as a reflex of the Proto-Indo-European * 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 /kʷ/ 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 Pádraig;
  • 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.

VowelsEdit

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   u
Mid e   o
Open   a  

The following diphthongs have also been reconstructed:

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

MorphologyEdit

NounsEdit

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:[12] 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, *ā-stems, *i-stems, *u-stems, dental stems, velar stems, nasal stems, *r-stems and *s-stems.

*o-stem nounsEdit

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *makkʷos *makkʷou *makkʷoi
Vocative *makkʷe *makkʷou *makkʷūs
Accusative *makkʷom *makkʷou *makkʷūs
Genitive *makkʷī *makkʷūs *makkʷom
Dative *makkʷūi *makkʷobom *makkʷobos
Ablative *makkʷū *makkʷobim *makkʷobis
Instrumental *makkʷū *makkʷobim *makkʷūs
Locative *makkʷei *makkʷou *makkʷobis
  • dūnom 'stronghold' (neuter)
Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *dūnom *dūnou *dūnā
Vocative *dūnom *dūnou *dūnā
Accusative *dūnom *dūnou *dūnā
Genitive *dūnī *dūnūs *dūnom
Dative *dūnūi *dūnobom *dūnobos
Ablative *dūnū *dūnobim *dūnobis
Instrumental *dūnū *dūnobim *dūnūs
Locative *dūnei *dūnou *dūnobis

*ā-stem nounsEdit

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

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *ɸlāmā *ɸlāmai *ɸlāmās
Vocative *ɸlāmā *ɸlāmai *ɸlāmās
Accusative *ɸlāmām *ɸlāmai *ɸlāmās
Genitive *ɸlāmās *ɸlāmajous *ɸlāmom
Dative *ɸlāmāi *ɸlāmābom *ɸlāmābos
Ablative *ɸlāmī *ɸlāmābim *ɸlāmābis
Instrumental *ɸlāmī *ɸlāmābim *ɸlāmābis
Locative *ɸlāmāi *ɸlāmābim *ɸlāmābis

E.g. *wolkās 'hawker' (masculine) (Gallic Latinised Volcae)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *wolkās *wolkai *wolkās
Vocative *wolkā *wolkai *wolkās
Accusative *wolkām *wolkai *wolkās
Genitive *wolkās *wolkajous *wolkom
Dative *wolkāi *wolkābom *wolkābos
Ablative *wolkī *wolkābim *wolkābis
Instrumental *wolkī *wolkābim *wolkābis
Locative *wolkāi *wolkābim *wolkābis

*i-stemsEdit

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

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *sūlis *sūlī *sūlīs
Vocative *sūli *sūlī *sūlīs
Accusative *sūlim *sūlī *sūlīs
Genitive *sūleis *sūljous *sūljom
Dative *sūlei *sūlibom *sūlibos
Ablative *sūlī *sūlibim *sūlibis
Instrumental *sūlī *sūlibim *sūlibis
Locative *sūlī *sūlibim *sūlibis

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

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

*u-stem nounsEdit

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 *bitūs
Genitive *bitous *bitowou *bitowom
Dative *bitou *bitubom *bitubos
Ablative *bitū *bitubim *bitubis
Instrumental *bitū *bitubim *bitubis
Locative *bitū *bitubim *bitubis

E.g. *dānu 'valley river' (neuter?)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *dānu *dānou *dānwā
Vocative *dānu *dānou *dānwā
Accusative *dānu *dānou *dānwā
Genitive *dānous *dānowou *dānowom
Dative *dānou *dānubom *dānubos
Ablative *dānū *dānubim *dānubis
Instrumental *dānū *dānubim *dānubis
Locative *dānū *dānubim *dānubis

Velar and dental stemsEdit

Before the *-s of the nominative singular, a velar consonant was fricated to *-x : *rīg- "king" > *rīxs. Likewise, final *-d devoiced to *-t-: *druwid- "druid" > *druwits.[13]

E.g. *rīxs 'king' (masculine) (Gallic -rix; Old Irish ; Middle Welsh rhi, Old Breton ri,[14]Germanic *-riks, as seen in Haimariks, ancestor of the name "Henry" and related forms)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *rīxs *rīge *rīges
Vocative *rīxs *rīge *rīges
Accusative *rīgam *rīge *rīgās
Genitive *rīgos *rīgou *rīgom
Dative *rīgei *rīgobom *rīgobos
Ablative *rīgī *rīgobim *rīgobis
Instrumental *rīge *rīgobim *rīgobis
Locative *rīgi *rīgobim *rīgobis

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 *druwidās
Genitive *druwidos *druwidou *druwidom
Dative *druwidei *druwidobom *druwidobos
Ablative *druwidī *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 *karnukās
Genitive *karnukos *karnukou *karnukom
Dative *karnukei *karnukobom *karnukobos
Ablative *karnukī *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 *karantās
Genitive *karantos *karantou *karantom
Dative *karantei *karantobom *karantobos
Ablative *karantī *karantobim *karantobis
Instrumental *karante *karantobim *karantobis
Locative *karanti *karantobim *karantobis

Nasal stemsEdit

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

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

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *abū *abone *abones
Vocative *abū *abone *abones
Accusative *abonam *abone *abonās
Genitive *abonos *abonou *abonom
Dative *abonei *abnobom *abnobos
Ablative *abonī *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 *anmanās
Genitive *anmanos *anmanou *anmanom
Dative *anmanei *anmanobom *anmanobos
Ablative *anmanī *anmanobim *anmanobis
Instrumental *anmane *anmanobim *anmanobis
Locative *anmani *anmanobim *anmanobis

*s-stem nounsEdit

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 , Breton ti.

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

*r-stem nounsEdit

  • r-stems are rare and principally confined to names of relatives. Typically they end in *-ter-, which becomes *-tīr in the nominative and *-tr- in all other cases aside from the accusative: *ɸater- 'father' > *ɸatīr, *ɸatros.

E.g. *ɸatīr 'father' (masculine)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *ɸatīr *ɸatere *ɸateres
Vocative *ɸatīr *ɸatere *ɸateres
Accusative *ɸateram *ɸatere *ɸaterās
Genitive *ɸatros *ɸatrou *ɸatrom
Dative *ɸatrei *ɸatrebom *ɸatrebos
Ablative *ɸatrī *ɸatrebim *ɸatrebis
Instrumental *ɸatre *ɸatrebim *ɸatrebis
Locative *ɸatri *ɸatrebim *ɸatrebis

E.g. *mātīr 'mother' (feminine)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *mātīr *mātere *māteres
Vocative *mātīr *mātere *māteres
Accusative *māteram *mātere *māterās
Genitive *mātros *mātrou *mātrom
Dative *mātrei *mātrebom *mātrebos
Ablative *mātrī *mātrebim *mātrebis
Instrumental *mātre *mātrebim *mātrebis
Locative *mātri *mātrebim *mātrebis

VerbsEdit

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.[citation needed] 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.[15][16]

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 [6][17][18][19] may be summarised in tabular format.

Conjugation like *bere/o- 'bear, carry, flow'
Person Present Imperfect Future Past
Active Medio-
passive
Active Medio-
passive
Active Medio-
passive
Active Medio-
passive
Indicative 1st sg. *berū(mi) *berūr *berennem *bibrām *bibrār *bertū
2nd sg. *beresi *beretar *berītū *bibrāsi *bibrātar *bertes
3rd sg. *bereti *beretor *bere(to) *beretei *bibrāti *bibrātor *bert *brito
1st pl. *beromu(-snīs) *berommor *beremmets *bibrāmes *bibrāmmor *bertomu
2nd pl. *berete *beredwe *beretes (Goidelic)
*bere-swīs (Brythonic)
*bibrāte *bibrādwe *bertete
3rd pl. *beronti *berontor *berentets *berentits (?) *bibrānt *bibrāntor *bertont *britūnts
Subjunctive 1st sg. *berām *berār *berānnem
2nd sg. *berāsi *berātar *berātū
3rd sg. *berāti *berātor *berā(to)
1st pl. *berāmes *berāmmor *berāmmets
2nd pl. *berāte *berādwe *berātes (Goidelic)
*berā-swīs (Brythonic)
3rd pl. *berānti *berāntor *berāntets
Imperative 2nd sg. *berī *beretar
3rd sg. *beret *beror
1st pl. *beromu *berommor
2nd pl. *beretīs *beredwe
3rd pl. *beront *berontor
Verbal noun *berowon- *britu-s
Participle *beront- *beromno- *beretejo- *bertjo- *brito-
Conjugation like *mārā- 'greaten, magnify, enlarge'
Person Present Imperfect Future Past
Active Medio-
passive
Active Medio-
passive
Active Medio-
passive
Active Medio-
passive
Indicative 1st sg. *mārāmi *mārār *mārānnem *māriswāmi *māriswār *mārātsū
2nd sg. *mārāsi *mārātar *mārātū *māriswāsi *māriswātar *mārātssi
3rd sg. *mārāti *mārātor *mārā(to) *mārātei *māriswāti *māriswātor *mārātsti
1st pl. *mārāmu(-snīs) *mārāmmor *mārāmmets *māriswāmos *māriswāmmor *mārātsomu
2nd pl. *mārāte *mārādwe *mārātes (Goidelic)
*mārā-swīs (Brythonic)
*māriswāte *māriswādwe *mārātsete
3rd pl. *mārānti *mārāntor *mārāntets *mārāntits (?) *māriswānti *māriswāntor *mārātsont *mārātūnts (?)
Subjunctive 1st sg. *mārām *māror *māronnem
2nd sg. *mārosi *mārotar *mārotū
3rd sg. *māroti *mārotor *māro(to)
1st pl. *māromes *mārommor *mārommets
2nd pl. *mārote *mārodwe *mārotes (Goidelic)
*māro-swīs (Brythonic)
3rd pl. *māronti *mārontor *mārontets
Imperative 2nd sg. *mārā *mārātrīs
3rd sg. *mārāt *mārār
1st pl. *mārāmu *mārāmmor
2nd pl. *mārātīs *mārādwe
3rd pl. *mārānt *mārāntor
Verbal noun *mārāwon- *mārātu-s
Participle *mārānt- *mārāmno- *mārātejo- *mārātjo- *mārāto-

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Notes

  1. ^ Celtic literature at britannica.com, accessed 7 February 2018
  2. ^ Rhys, John (1905). Evans, E. Vincent (ed.). "The Origin of the Welsh Englyn and Kindred Metres". Y Cymmrodor. London: Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. XVIII.
  3. ^ Koch, John T. (2020). Celto-Germanic Later Prehistory and Post-Proto-Indo-European vocabulary in the North and West, pp. 45–48.
  4. ^ Schumacher, Stefan (2004). Die keltischen Primärverben. Ein vergleichendes, etymologisches und morphologisches Lexikon (in German). Innsbruck, Austria: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität Innsbruck. p. 85. ISBN 3-85124-692-6.
  5. ^ Schrijver, Peter (2016). "17. Ancillary study: Sound Change, the Italo-Celtic Linguistic Unity, and the Italian Homeland of Celtic". In Koch, John T.; Cunliffe, Barry (eds.). Celtic from the West 3: Atlantic Europe in the Metal Ages – Questions of Shared Language. Oxford, UK: Oxbow Books. pp. 489–502. ISBN 978-1-78570-227-3. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Matasović 2009.
  7. ^ Schrijver 2015, pp. 196–197.
  8. ^ Welsh adfer 'to restore' < *ate-ber-, cymeryd < obsolete cymer < MW cymeraf < *kom-ber- (with -yd taken from the verbal noun cymryd < *kom-britu).
  9. ^ 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. *dʰugh₂tḗr vs. gen.sg. *dʰugtr-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 (< *dugtīr). (Zair 2012: 161, 163).
  10. ^ a b c Eska, Joseph F. (March 12, 2018). "Laryngeal Realism and the Prehistory of Celtic". Transactions of the Philological Society. Wiley. 116 (3): 320–331. doi:10.1111/1467-968x.12122. ISSN 0079-1636.
  11. ^ a b Eska, Joseph (January 26, 2021). "Laryngeal Realism and early Insular Celtic orthography". North American journal of Celtic studies. 3 (1): 1–17. ISSN 2472-7490. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  12. ^ Pedersen, Holger (1913). Vergleichende Grammatik der keltischen Sprachen, 2. Band, Bedeutungslehre (Wortlehre). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. ISBN 978-3-525-26119-4.
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ (borrowed into)
  15. ^ Stefan Schumacher, Die keltischen Primärverben: Ein vergleichendes, etymologisches und morphologisches Lexikon (Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität, 2004).
  16. ^ Pierre-Yves Lambert, La langue gauloise: Description linguistique, commentaire d'inscriptions choisies (Paris: Errance, revised ed. 2003).
  17. ^ Alexander MacBain, 1911, xxxvi-xxxvii; An etymological dictionary of the Gaelic language; Stirling: Eneas MacKay
  18. ^ Alan Ward, A Checklist of Proto-Celtic Lexical Items (1982, revised 1996), 7-14.
  19. ^ Examples of attested Gaulish verbs at http://www.angelfire.com/me/ik/gaulish.html

Bibliography

External linksEdit

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 Matasović. 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: