Proto-Celtic language

Proto-Celtic, or Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all known Celtic languages, and a descendant of Proto-Indo-European. It is not attested in writing but has been partly reconstructed through the comparative method. Proto-Celtic is generally thought to have been spoken between 1300 and 800 BC, after which it began to split into different languages. Proto-Celtic is often associated with the Urnfield culture and particularly with the Hallstatt culture. Celtic languages share common features with Italic languages that are not found in other branches of Indo-European, suggesting the possibility of an earlier Italo-Celtic linguistic unity.

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

Proto-Celtic is currently being reconstructed through the comparative method by relying on later Celtic languages. Though 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, though some complete sentences are recorded in the Continental Gaulish and Celtiberian. So the main sources for reconstruction come from 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 usually dated to the Late Bronze Age, ca. 1200–900 BC.[3] The fact that it is possible to reconstruct a Proto-Celtic word for 'iron' (traditionally reconstructed as *īsarnom) has long been taken as an indication that the divergence into individual Celtic languages did not start until the Iron Age (8th century BCE to 1st century BCE); otherwise, descendant languages would have developed their own, unrelated words for their metal. However, Schumacher[4] and Schrijver[5] suggest a date for Proto-Celtic as early as the 13th century BC, the time of the Canegrate culture, in northwest Italy, and the Urnfield culture in Central Europe, implying that the divergence may have already started in the Bronze Age.[why?]

Sound changes from Proto-Indo-EuropeanEdit

The phonological changes from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) to Proto-Celtic (PC) may be summarized 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 PIEEdit

These changes are 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: 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 PCEdit

  • 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 PCEdit

  • 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 PC Example
PC 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 PC Example
PC 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 (PC):

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

Allophones of plosivesEdit

PC stops allophonically manifest similarly to those in English. Voiceless stop phonemes /t k/ were aspirated word-initially except when preceded by /s/, hence aspirate allophones [tʰ kʰ]. And unaspirated voiced stops /b d ɡ/ were devoiced to [p t k] word-initially.[10][11]

This allophony may be reconstructed to PC from the following evidence:[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 [t]. This implies that Celtiberian /d/ had a voiceless allophone [t].

Evolution of plosivesEdit

Proto-Indo-European (PIE) voiced aspirate stops *, *, *gʰ/ǵʰ, merge with *b, *d, *g/ǵ in PC. The voiced aspirate labiovelar *gʷʰ did not merge with *, though: plain * became PC *b, while aspirated *gʷʰ became *. Thus, PIE *gʷen- 'woman' became Old Irish and Old Welsh ben, but PIE *gʷʰn̥- 'to kill, wound' became Old Irish gonaid and Welsh gwanu.

PIE *p is lost in PC, apparently going through the stages *ɸ (possibly a stage *[pʰ])[10] and *h (perhaps seen in the name Hercynia if this is of Celtic origin) before being completely lost word-initially and between vowels. Next to consonants, PC *ɸ underwent different changes: the clusters *ɸs and *ɸt became *xs and *xt respectively already in PC. 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 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, the Proto-Indo-European * phoneme becomes a new *p sound. Thus, Gaulish petuar[ios], Welsh pedwar "four", but Old Irish cethair and Latin quattuor. Insofar as this new /p/ fills the gap in the phoneme inventory which was left 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 for grouping Celtic languages based on the way they handle this one phoneme. But a simple division into P- / Q-Celtic may be untenable, as it does not do justice to the evidence of the ancient Continental Celtic languages. The many unusual shared innovations among the Insular Celtic languages are often also presented as evidence against a P- 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 the genetic classification of Celtic languages.

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 PC vowel system is highly comparable to that reconstructed for PIE by Antoine Meillet. The following monophthongs are 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 a- ai au
With o- oi ou

MorphologyEdit

NounsEdit

The morphological (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 masculine, feminine and neuter; the 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 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

*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) (Gaulish Mori- ~ Old Irish muir ~ Welsh môr)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *mori *morī *moryā
Vocative *mori *morī *moryā
Accusative *mori *morī *moryā
Genitive *moreis *moryous *moryom
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) (Gaulish 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. *beru "rotisserie spit" (neuter)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *beru *berou *berwā
Vocative *beru *berou *berwā
Accusative *beru *berou *berwā
Genitive *berous *berowou *berowom
Dative *berou *berubom *berubos
Ablative *berū *berubim *berubis
Instrumental *berū *berubim *berubis
Locative *berū *berubim *berubis

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)

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)

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. *karants "friend" (masculine)

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)

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)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *anman *anmanī *anmanā
Vocative *anman *anmanī *anmanā
Accusative *anman *anmanī *anmanā
Genitive *anmēs *anmanou *anmanom
Dative *anmanei *anmambom *anmambos
Ablative *anmanī *anmambim *anmambis
Instrumental *anmane *anmambim *anmambis
Locative *anmani *anmambim *anmambis

*s-stem nounsEdit

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

E.g.*tegos "house" (neuter)

Case Singular Dual Plural
Nominative *tegos *tegese *tegesa
Vocative *tegos *tegese *tegesa
Accusative *tegos *tegese *tegesa
Genitive *tegesos *tegesou *tegesom
Dative *tegesi *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

PronounsEdit

The following personal pronouns in Celtic can be reconstructed as follows:[14]: 220–221 [15]: 281 

Case First-person Second-person
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nominative * *snī * *swī
Accusative *me *snos *tu *swes
Genitive *mene ? *towe ?

The following third-person pronouns in Proto-Celtic may also be reconstructed.[16]: 62 [14]: 220 

Case Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative *es, *ēs * *ed *eyes
Accusative *em *seyam? *sīm? *sūs
Genitive *esyo *esyās *esyo *ēsom? *esom?
Dative
Instrumental
Locative
*e(s)yōi *esyāi *e(s)yōi *ēbis

VerbsEdit

From comparison between early Old Irish and Gaulish forms it seems that Continental and Insular Celtic verbs developed differently and so the study of Irish and Welsh may have unduly weighted past opinion of Proto-Celtic verb 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.[17][18]

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

Primary endingsEdit

The primary endings in Proto-Celtic were as follows. They were used to form the present, future, and subjunctive conjugations.[14]

Proto-Celtic primary endings
Person and number Basic endings Thematic present Nasal-infixed
seṭ-root present
Active Mediopassive Active Mediopassive Active
1st sg. * (thematic)
*-mi (athematic)
*-ūr * *-ūr *-nami
2nd sg. *-si *-tar *-esi *-etar *-nasi
3rd sg. *-ti *-tor *-eti *-etor *-nati
1st pl. *-mosi *-mor *-omosi *-omor *-namosi
2nd pl. *-tesi *-dwe *-etesi *-edwe *-natesi
3rd pl. *-nti *-ntor *-onti *-ontor *-nanti

Preterite formationsEdit

There were two or three major preterite formations in Proto-Celtic, plus another moribund type.

  • The s-preterite
  • The reduplicated suffixless preterite (originating from the PIE reduplicated stative)
  • The t-preterite
  • The root aorist

The s-, t-, and root aorist preterites take Indo-European secondary endings, while the reduplicated suffix preterite took stative endings. These endings are:[19]: 62–67 

Proto-Celtic preterite endings
Person and number Ending type
Secondary endings Stative endings
1st sg. *-am *-a
2nd sg. *-s *-as
3rd sg. *-t *-e
1st pl. *-mo(s) ?
2nd pl. *-te(s) ?
3rd pl. *-ant *-ar
t-preteriteEdit

The Old Irish t-preterite was traditionally assumed to be a divergent evolution from the s-preterite, but that derivation was challenged by Jay Jasanoff, who alleges that they were instead imperfects of Narten presents. Either derivation requires Narten ablaut anyway, leading to a stem vowel i in the singular and e in the plural. The stem vowel in the t-preterite was leveled to *e if the next consonant was either velar or *m, and *i in front of *r or *l.[20]

Future formationsEdit

One major formation of the future in Celtic, the s-future. It is a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European (h₁)se-desirative, with i-reduplication in many verbs. The Old Irish a- and s-future come from here.[21]

Another future formation, attested only in Gaulish, is the -sye-desiderative.

Subjunctive formationsEdit

Most verbs took one subjunctive suffix in Proto-Celtic, -(a)s-, followed by the thematic primary endings. It was a descendant of the subjunctive of an Indo-European sigmatic thematic formation *-seti. The -ase- variant originated in roots that ended in a laryngeal in Proto-Indo-European; when the *-se- suffix was attached right after a laryngeal, the laryngeal regularly vocalized into *-a-. It would then analogically spread to other Celtic strong verb roots ending in sonorants in addition to the weak verbs, even if the root did not originally end in a laryngeal.[21]

There were also three verbs that did not use -(a)se-, instead straight-out taking thematised primary endings. Two of these verbs are *bwiyeti "to be, exist" (subjunctive *bweti) and *klinutor "to hear" (subjunctive *klowetor).[22]

Primary subjunctive formations in Proto-Celtic generally use the e-grade of the verb root, even if the present stem uses the zero-grade.

Imperative formationEdit

Imperative endings in Proto-Celtic were as follows:[14]: 147–148 

Imperative endings in Proto-Celtic
Person and number Active endings
Basic endings With thematic vowels
2nd sg. -∅, *-si *-e
3rd sg. *-tou *-etou
1st pl. *-mo(s) *-omo(s)
2nd pl. *-te(s) *-ete(s)
3rd pl. *-ntou *-ontou
Second-person singular imperativeEdit

The second-person singular imperative was generally endingless in the active; no ending was generally added to athematic verbs. On thematic -e/o- verbs, the imperative ended in thematic vowel *-e. However, there is also another second-person singular active imperative ending, -si, which was attached to the verb root athematically even with thematic strong verbs.[23]

The thematic deponent second-person singular imperative ending was *-eso. The -the in Old Irish is secondary.[24][14]: 140 

Example conjugationsEdit

Scholarly reconstructions [6][25][26][27] may be summarised in tabular format.[dubious ]

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 *berūr *berennem *bibrām *bibrār *bertū
2nd sg. *beresi *beretar *berītū *bibrāsi *bibrātar *bertes
3rd sg. *bereti *beretor *bere(to) *beretei *bibrāti *bibrātor *bert ?
1st pl. *beromosi *berommor *beremmets *bibrāmes *bibrāmmor *bertomu
2nd pl. *beretesi *beredwe *beretes (Goidelic)
*bere-swīs (Brythonic)
*bibrāte *bibrādwe *bertete
3rd pl. *beronti *berontor *berentets *berentits (?) *bibrānt *bibrāntor *bertont ?
Subjunctive 1st sg. *berasū *berār *berānnem
2nd sg. *berasesi *berātar *berātū
3rd sg. *beraseti *berātor *berā(to)
1st pl. *berasomosi *berāmmor *berāmmets
2nd pl. *berasetesi *berādwe *berātes (Goidelic)
*berā-swīs (Brythonic)
3rd pl. *berasonti *berāntor *berāntets
Imperative 2nd sg. *bere *beretar
3rd sg. *beretou *beror
1st pl. *beromos *berommor
2nd pl. *berete *beredwe
3rd pl. *berontou *berontor
Participle *beront- *beromno- *beretejo- *bertjo- *britos
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. *mārāmosi *mārāmmor *mārāmmets *māriswāmos *māriswāmmor *mārātsomu
2nd pl. *mārātesi *mārādwe *mārātes (Goidelic)
*mārā-swīs (Brythonic)
*māriswāte *māriswādwe *mārātsete
3rd pl. *mārānti *mārāntor *mārāntets *mārāntits (?) *māriswānti *māriswāntor *mārātsont
Subjunctive 1st sg. *mārasū *māror *māronnem
2nd sg. *mārasesi *mārotar *mārotū
3rd sg. *māraseti *mārotor *māro(to)
1st pl. *mārasomosi *mārommor *mārommets
2nd pl. *mārasetesi *mārodwe *mārotes (Goidelic)
*māro-swīs (Brythonic)
3rd pl. *mārasonti *mārontor *mārontets
Imperative 2nd sg. *mārā *mārātrīs
3rd sg. *mārātou *mārār
1st pl. *mārāmos *mārāmmor
2nd pl. *mārāte *mārādwe
3rd pl. *mārāntou *mārāntor
Participle *mārānt- *mārāmno- *mārātejo- *mārātjo- *mārātos

CopulaEdit

The copula *esti was irregular. It had both athematic and thematic conjugations in the present tense. Schrijver supposes that its athematic present was used clause-initially and the thematic conjugation was used when that was not the case.[28]

Conjugation of *esti in Proto-Celtic
Person Present
Athematic Thematic
1st sg. *esmi *esū
2nd sg. *esi *esesi
3rd sg. *esti *eseti
1st pl. *esmosi *esomosi
2nd pl. **estes *esetes
3rd pl. *senti **esonti

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 PC *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. ^ Stokes, Whitley (November 1887). "Celtic Declension". Transactions of the Philological Society. 20 (1): 97–201.
  14. ^ a b c d e McCone, Kim (2006). The Origins and Development of the Insular Celtic Verbal Complex. Maynooth studies in Celtic linguistics. Department of Old Irish, National University of Ireland. ISBN 978-0-901519-46-7.
  15. ^ Thurneysen, Rudolf (1940). A Grammar of Old Irish. Translated by Binchy, D. A; Bergin, Osborn. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. ISBN 1-85500-161-6.
  16. ^ Schrijver, Peter (1997). Studies in the History of Celtic Pronouns and Particles. Maynooth studies in Celtic linguistics. Department of Old Irish, National University of Ireland. ISBN 978-0-901519-59-7.
  17. ^ Stefan Schumacher, Die keltischen Primärverben: Ein vergleichendes, etymologisches und morphologisches Lexikon (Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität, 2004).
  18. ^ Pierre-Yves Lambert, La langue gauloise: Description linguistique, commentaire d'inscriptions choisies (Paris: Errance, revised ed. 2003).
  19. ^ Schumacher, Stefan; Schulze-Thulin, Britta; aan de Wiel, Caroline (2004). Die keltischen Primärverben. Ein vergleichendes, etymologisches und morphologisches Lexikon (in German). Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Kulturen der Universität Innsbruck. ISBN 3-85124-692-6.
  20. ^ Jasanoff, Jay (2012). "Long-vowel preterites in Indo-European". In Melchert, Craig (ed.). The Indo-European Verb. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. pp. 127–135.
  21. ^ a b McCone, Kim (1991). The Indo-European Origins of the Old Irish Nasal Presents, Subjunctives and Futures. Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft. IBS-Vertrieb. ISBN 978-3-85124-617-9.
  22. ^ Darling, Mark (2020). The Subjunctive in Celtic: Studies in Historical Phonology and Morphology (Thesis). University of Cambridge. doi:10.17863/CAM.57857. Retrieved September 1, 2022.
  23. ^ Jasanoff, Jay (1986). "Old Irish tair 'come!'". Transactions of the Philological Society. Wiley. 84 (1): 132–141. doi:10.1111/j.1467-968x.1986.tb01050.x. ISSN 0079-1636.
  24. ^ Barnes, Timothy (2015). "Old Irish cuire, its congeners, and the ending of the 2nd sg. middle imperative". Ériu. 65 (1): 49–56. doi:10.3318/eriu.2015.65.3. ISSN 2009-0056. Retrieved September 2, 2022.
  25. ^ Alexander MacBain, 1911, xxxvi–xxxvii; An etymological dictionary of the Gaelic language; Stirling: Eneas MacKay
  26. ^ Alan Ward, A Checklist of Proto-Celtic Lexical Items (1982, revised 1996), 7–14.
  27. ^ Examples of attested Gaulish verbs at http://www.angelfire.com/me/ik/gaulish.html
  28. ^ Schrijver, Peter (December 6, 2019). "Italo-Celtic and the Inflection of *es- 'be'". In Serangeli, Matilde; Olander, Thomas (eds.). Dispersals and Diversification. Brill. pp. 209–235. doi:10.1163/9789004416192_012. ISBN 9789004414501. S2CID 213806505.

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: