Gaulish language

Gaulish language

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The Gaulish language is an extinct Celtic language that was spoken by the Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

, a people who inhabited the region known as Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 (Cisalpine
Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul, in Latin: Gallia Cisalpina or Citerior, also called Gallia Togata, was a Roman province until 41 BC when it was merged into Roman Italy.It bore the name Gallia, because the great body of its inhabitants, after the expulsion of the Etruscans, consisted of Gauls or Celts...

 and Transalpine) from the Iron Age through the Roman period
Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul consisted of an area of provincial rule in the Roman Empire, in modern day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. Roman control of the area lasted for less than 500 years....

. It was historically spoken through what are now mainly France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Northern Italy
Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a wide cultural, historical and geographical definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the northern part of the Italian state, also referred as Settentrione or Alta Italia...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, eastern Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 and western Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 before being supplanted by Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin
Vulgar Latin is any of the nonstandard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed. Because of its nonstandard nature, it had no official orthography. All written works used Classical Latin, with very few exceptions...

 and various Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 from around the 4th century onwards. Gaulish is paraphyletically grouped with Celtiberian
Celtiberian language
Celtiberian is an extinct Indo-European language of the Celtic branch spoken by the Celtiberians in an area of the Iberian Peninsula lyingbetween the headwaters of the Duero, Tajo, Júcar and Turia rivers and the Ebro river...

 as Continental Celtic
Continental Celtic languages
The Continental Celtic languages are the Celtic languages, now extinct, that were spoken on the continent of Europe, as distinguished from the Insular Celtic languages of Britain and Ireland. The Continental Celtic languages were spoken by the people known to Roman and Greek writers as Keltoi,...

. Lepontic is considered to be either a dialect of or a language closely related to Gaulish. Galatian
Galatian language
Galatian is an extinct Celtic language once spoken in Galatia in Asia Minor from the 3rd century BC up to at least the 4th century AD, although ancient sources suggest it was still spoken in the 6th century....

 is the form of Gaulish spoken in in Asia Minor after 281 BC
Gallic invasion of the Balkans
Gallic groups, originating from the various La Tène chiefdoms, began a south-eastern movement into the Balkan peninsula from the 4th century BC. Although Celtic settlements were concentrated in the western half of the Carpathian basin, there were notable incursions, and settlements, within the...

.

Gaulish is a P-Celtic language, though some inscriptions (e.g. the Coligny Calendar
Coligny calendar
The Gaulish Coligny calendar was found in Coligny, Ain, France near Lyon in 1897, along with the head of a bronze statue of a youthful male figure. It is a lunisolar calendar...

) potentially show Q-Celtic characteristics (however, this is a matter of debate among Celticists). Gaulish has a very close relationship to Insular Celtic (Goidelic and Brythonic), and many forms are identical in the two. Epigraphical remains have been uncovered across all of what used to be Roman Gaul, which covered modern France, as well as parts of Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.

History



The earliest Continental Celtic inscriptions, dating to as early as the 6th century BC, are in Lepontic
Lepontic language
Lepontic is an extinct Alpine language that was spoken in parts of Rhaetia and Cisalpine Gaul between 550 and 100 BC. It was a Celtic language, although its exact classification within Celtic has been the object of debate...

, found in Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul, in Latin: Gallia Cisalpina or Citerior, also called Gallia Togata, was a Roman province until 41 BC when it was merged into Roman Italy.It bore the name Gallia, because the great body of its inhabitants, after the expulsion of the Etruscans, consisted of Gauls or Celts...

 and were written in a form of the Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic alphabet
Old Italic refers to several now extinct alphabet systems used on the Italian Peninsula in ancient times for various Indo-European languages and non-Indo-European languages...

. Inscriptions in the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

 from the 3rd century BC have been found in the area near the mouths of the Rhône
Rhône River
The Rhone is one of the major rivers of Europe, rising in Switzerland and running from there through southeastern France. At Arles, near its mouth on the Mediterranean Sea, the river divides into two branches, known as the Great Rhone and the Little Rhone...

, while later inscriptions dating to Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul consisted of an area of provincial rule in the Roman Empire, in modern day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. Roman control of the area lasted for less than 500 years....

 are mostly in the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

. According to Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

, the Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 (Galli in Latin; Caesar tells us that they called themselves Celtae
Celtae
Celtae are a Canadian band based in Ottawa, who play neo-Celtic music. The band was founded by Nathan MacDonald of Cape Breton Island, and also includes Matt Holland of Summerside, Prince Edward Island and Tyree Lush of Gambo, Newfoundland and Labrador...

 in their own tongue) were one of three groups who inhabited Gaul, the other two being the Aquitani
Aquitani
The Aquitani were a people living in what is now Aquitaine, France, in the region between the Pyrenees, the Atlantic ocean and the Garonne...

 and the Belgae
Belgae
The Belgae were a group of tribes living in northern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 3rd century BC, and later also in Britain, and possibly even Ireland...

.

According to his treatise On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis
On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis
On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, today also called On the Detection and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called , commonly called Against Heresies , is a five-volume work written by St. Irenaeus in the 2nd century...

, Saint Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 of Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

 still needed to preach in Gaulish in his diocese during the last quarter of the 2nd century AD. Saint Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 (ca. 340-425) remarks in a commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians
Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...

that the Treveri
Treveri
The Treveri or Treviri were a tribe of Gauls who inhabited the lower valley of the Moselle from around 150 BCE, at the latest, until their eventual absorption into the Franks...

 spoke almost the same language as the Galatians. Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

 wrote in the 6th century that a sanctuary in the Auvergne
Auvergne (région)
Auvergne is one of the 27 administrative regions of France. It comprises the 4 departments of Allier, Puy de Dome, Cantal and Haute Loire.The current administrative region of Auvergne is larger than the historical province of Auvergne, and includes provinces and areas that historically were not...

 was "called Vasso Galate in the Gallic tongue", which has been taken to mean that Gaulish was still spoken in the region in his time. However, his remark primarily refers to the linguistic origin of the place name, not necessarily to the survival of the language.

Inscriptions are often difficult to interpret and reveal only fragments of continuous language.

Today, the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 contains approximately 150 to 180 words known to be of Gaulish origin, most of which concern pastoral or daily activity. If dialectal and derived words are included, the total is approximately 400 words, the largest stock of Celtic words in any Romance language.

Phonology

Vowel phonemes of Gaulish
Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Central
Central vowel
A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i i: u u:
Mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

e e: o o:
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

a a:
  • vowels:
    • short: a, e, i, o u
    • long: ā, ē, ī, (ō), ū
    • diphthongs: ai, ei, oi, au, eu, ou
      Consonant phonemes of Gaulish
        Bilabial
      Bilabial consonant
      In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

      Alveolar
      Alveolar consonant
      Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

      Palatal
      Palatal consonant
      Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

      Velar
      Velar consonant
      Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

      Nasal
      Nasal consonant
      A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

      m n
      Plosive p  b t  d k  ɡ
      Affricate
      Affricate consonant
      Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

      ts
      Fricative
      Fricative consonant
      Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

      s (x)1
      Approximant
      Approximant consonant
      Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

      j w
      Liquid
      Liquid consonant
      In phonetics, liquids or liquid consonants are a class of consonants consisting of lateral consonants together with rhotics.-Description:...

      r, l
  1. [x] is an allophone of /k/ before /t/.

  • occlusives:
    • voiceless: p, t, k
    • voiced: b, d, g
  • resonants
    • nasals: m, n
    • liquids r, l
  • sibilant: s
  • affricate: ts
  • semi-vowels: w, y


The diphthongs all transformed over the course of the historical period. Ai and oi collapsed into long ī; eu merged with ou, both becoming long ō. Ei became long ē early, probably prior to the attestation of Gaulish. In general, long diphthongs became short diphthongs and then collapsed into long vowels. Long vowels shortened before nasals in Auslaut.

Other transformations include the transformation of unstressed i into e. Ln became ll, a stop + s became ss, and a nasal + velar became /ng/ + velar.

The occlusives also seem to have been both lenis
Fortis and lenis
In linguistics, fortis and lenis are terms generally used to refer to groups of consonants that are produced with greater and lesser energy, respectively, such as in energy applied, articulation, etc....

, unlike Latin, which distinguished voiced occlusives with a lenis realization from voiceless occlusives with a fortis
Fortis and lenis
In linguistics, fortis and lenis are terms generally used to refer to groups of consonants that are produced with greater and lesser energy, respectively, such as in energy applied, articulation, etc....

 realization, hence confusions like Glanum for Clanum, vergobretos for vercobreto, Britannia for Pritannia.

Orthography


The alphabet of Lugano
Lugano
Lugano is a city of inhabitants in the city proper and a total of over 145,000 people in the agglomeration/city region, in the south of Switzerland, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, which borders Italy...

 used in Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul
Cisalpine Gaul, in Latin: Gallia Cisalpina or Citerior, also called Gallia Togata, was a Roman province until 41 BC when it was merged into Roman Italy.It bore the name Gallia, because the great body of its inhabitants, after the expulsion of the Etruscans, consisted of Gauls or Celts...

 for Lepontic:
AEIKLMNOPRSTΘUVXZ


The alphabet of Lugano does not distinguish voiced and unvoiced occlusives, i.e. P represents /b/ or /p/, T is for /d/ or /t/, K for /g/ or /k/.
Z is probably for /ts/. U /u/ and V /w/ are distinguished only in one early inscription. Θ is probably for /t/ and X for /g/ (Lejeune 1971, Solinas 1985).

The Eastern Greek alphabet used in southern Gallia Transalpina:
αβγδεζηθικλμνξοπρστυχω


χ is used for [x], θ for /ts/, ου for /u/, /ū/, /w/,
η and ω for both long and short /e/, /ē/ and /o/, /ō/, while ι is for short /i/ and ει for /ī/. Note that the Sigma in the Eastern Greek alphabet looks like a C (lunate sigma). All Greek letters were used except phi
Phi
Phi may refer to:In language:*Phi, the Greek letter Φ,φ, the symbol for voiceless bilabial fricativeIn mathematics:*The Golden ratio*Euler's totient function*A statistical measure of association reported with the chi-squared test...

 and psi
Psi (letter)
Psi is the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and has a numeric value of 700. In both Classical and Modern Greek, the letter indicates the combination /ps/ . The letter was adopted into the Old Italic alphabet, and its shape is continued into the Algiz rune of the Elder Futhark...

.

Latin alphabet (monumental and cursive) in use in Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul
Roman Gaul consisted of an area of provincial rule in the Roman Empire, in modern day France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. Roman control of the area lasted for less than 500 years....

:
ABCDÐEFGHIKLMNOPQRSTUVXZ
abcdðefghiklmnopqrstuvxz

G and K are sometimes used interchangeably (especially after R). Ð/ð, ds and s may represent /ts/. X, x is for [x] or /ks/. Q is only used rarely (e.g. Sequanni, Equos) and may represent an archaism (a retained *kw) or, as in Latin, an alternate spelling of -cu- (for original /kuu/, /kou/, or /kom-u/). Ð and ð are used here to represent the letter tau gallicum (the Gaulish dental affricate), which has not yet been added to Unicode. In contrast to the glyph
Glyph
A glyph is an element of writing: an individual mark on a written medium that contributes to the meaning of what is written. A glyph is made up of one or more graphemes....

 for Ð, the central bar extends right across the glyph and also does not protrude outside it.

Sound laws

  • Gaulish changed the PIE
    Proto-Indo-European language
    The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

     voiceless labiovelar kw to p (hence P-Celtic
    Proto-Celtic language
    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...

    ), a development also observed in Brythonic
    Brythonic languages
    The Brythonic or Brittonic languages form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael...

     (as well as Greek
    Greek language
    Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

     and some Italic languages
    Italic languages
    The Italic subfamily is a member of the Indo-European language family. It includes the Romance languages derived from Latin , and a number of extinct languages of the Italian Peninsula, including Umbrian, Oscan, Faliscan, and Latin.In the past various definitions of "Italic" have prevailed...

    ), while the other Celtic, 'Q-Celtic', retained the labiovelar. Thus the Gaulish word for "son" was mapos, contrasting with Primitive Irish
    Primitive Irish language
    Primitive Irish or Archaic Irish is the oldest known form of the Goidelic languages. It is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the ogham alphabet in Ireland and western Great Britain from around the 4th century to 7th or 8th century.-Characteristics:Transcribed...

     *maqqos (attested in the genitive, maqqi), which became mac (genitive mic) in modern Irish. In modern Welsh the word map (mab) (or its contracted form ap(ab)) is found in surnames. Similarly one Gaulish word for "horse" was epos (in Southern Gaulish [Q-Celtic] eqos) while Old Irish
    Old Irish language
    Old Irish is the name given to the oldest form of the Goidelic languages for which extensive written texts are extant. It was used from the 6th to the 10th centuries, by which time it had developed into Middle Irish....

      has ech, Modern Gaelic (Irish and Scottish) each, Manx egh; all derived from Indo-European
    Proto-Indo-European language
    The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

     *eḱu̯os.
  • Voiced labiovelar gw became w, e. g. gwediūmi > uediiumi "I pray" (cf. Irish guidhim, Welsh gweddi "to pray").
  • PIE tst became /ts/, spelled ð, e.g. *nedz-tamo > neððamon (cf. Irish nesamh "nearest", Welsh nesaf "next").
  • PIE eu became ou, and later ō, e.g. *teutā > touta > tōta "tribe" (cf. Irish tuath, Welsh tud "people").
  • Additionally, intervocalic /st/ became the affricate [ts] (alveolar stop + voiceless alveolar stop) and intervocalic /sr/ became [ðr] and /str/ became [þr]. Finally, when a labial or velar stop came before either a /t/ or /s/ the two sounds merged into the fricative [x].

Morphology


There was some areal (or genetic, see Italo-Celtic
Italo-Celtic
In historical linguistics, Italo-Celtic is a grouping of the Italic and Celtic branches of the Indo-European language family on the basis of features shared by these two branches and no others. These are usually considered to be innovations, which are likely to have developed after the breakup of...

) similarity to Latin grammar, and the French historian A. Lot argued that this helped the rapid adoption of vulgar Latin in Roman Gaul.

Noun cases


Gaulish had six or seven cases
Declension
In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and articles to indicate number , case , and gender...

. As in Latin, Gaulish had nominative
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

, vocative
Vocative case
The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

, accusative
Accusative case
The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of prepositions...

, genitive
Genitive case
In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

, and dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

 cases; however, where Latin had an ablative
Ablative case
In linguistics, ablative case is a name given to cases in various languages whose common characteristic is that they mark motion away from something, though the details in each language may differ...

, Gaulish had an instrumental
Instrumental case
The instrumental case is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action...

 and may also have had a locative case
Locative case
Locative is a grammatical case which indicates a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", and "by"...

. Greater epigraphical evidence attests common cases (nominative and accusative) and common stems (-o- and -a- stems) than for cases less frequently used in inscriptions, or rarer -i-, -n- and -r- stems. The following table summarizes the best attested case endings. A blank means that the form is unattested.
Case Singular Plural
ā-stem o-stem i-stem u-stem r-stem ā-stem o-stem i-stem u-stem r-stem
Nominative
Nominative case
The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

tōtā mapos vātis dorus brātīr tōtas mapoi > mapī vātes doroues brāteres
Vocative
Vocative case
The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

tōta mape vāti doru mapūs
Accusative
Accusative case
The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of prepositions...

tōtan, tōten
> tōtim
mapon vātin *dorun brāterem tōtās mapūs vātīs doruās brāteras
Genitive
Genitive case
In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

tōtas mapī vātes dorous brāteros tōtanom mapon vātion doruon brāteron
Dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

tōtai > tōtī mapūi > mapū vāte dorou brāteri tōtabo mapobo *vātibo doruebo brāterebo
Instrumental
Instrumental case
The instrumental case is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action...

tōtia mapu mapobi brāterebi
Locative
Locative case
Locative is a grammatical case which indicates a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", and "by"...

mape


In some cases a historical evolution is attested, for example the dative singular of a-stems is -āi in the oldest inscriptions, becoming first *-ăi and finally (as in Irish a-stem nouns with attenuated (slender)consonants: nom. lámh "hand, arm" (cf. Gaul. lāmā) and dat. láimh (< *lāmi; cf. Gaul. lāmāi > *lāmăi > lāmī). Further, the plural instrumental had begun to encroach on the dative plural (dative atrebo and matrebo vs. instrumental gobedbi and suiorebe), and in the modern Insular languages the instrumental form is known to have fully replaced the dative.

For o-stems, Gaulish also innovated the pronominal ending for the nominative plural -oi and genitive singular -ī in place of expected -ōs and -os still present in Celtiberian (-, -o). In a-stems, inherited genitive singular -as is attested but was subsequently replaced by -ias as in Insular Celtic. The expected genitive plural -a-om appears innovated as -anom (vs. Celtiberian -aum).

Verbs


Verbs show a number of innovations as well. The Indo-European s-aorist has evolved into the Gaulish t-preterit which was formed by merging an old 3rd personal singular imperfect ending -t- to a 3rd personal singular perfect ending -u or -e and subsequent affixation to all forms of the t-preterit tense. Similarly, the s-preterit is formed from the extension of -ss (originally from the 3rd person singular) and the affixation of -it to the 3rd person singular (to distinguish it as such). Third personal plurals are also marked by the addition of -s in the preterit system.

Numerals


Ordinal numerals from the La Graufesenque
La Graufesenque
La Graufesenque is an archaeological site 2km from Millau, Aveyron, France, at the confluence of the Tarn and Dourbie rivers. As Condatomagus , it was famous in the Gallo-Roman period for the production of high quality dark red terra sigillata Roman pottery, which was made in vast quantities and...

 graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

  1. cintus, cintuxos (Welsh cynt "before", cyntaf "first", Breton kent "in front", Old Irish céta, Irish céad "first")
  2. allos (W ail, Br eil, OIr aile "other", Ir eile)
  3. tritios (W trydydd, Br trede, OIr treide, ClasIr treas, Ir tríú)
  4. petuarios (W pedwerydd, Br pevare, OIr cethramad, Ir ceathrú)
  5. pinpetos (W pumed, Br pempet, OIr cóiced, Ir cúigiú)
  6. suexos (maybe mistaken for suextos; W chweched, Br c'hwec'hved, OIr seissed, Ir séú)
  7. sextametos (W seithfed, Br seizhved, OIr sechtmad, Ir seachtú)
  8. oxtumetos (W wythfed, Br eizhved, OIr ochtmad, Ir ochtú)
  9. nametos (W nawfed, Br naved, OIr nómad, Ir naoú)
  10. decametos, decometos (Celtiberian dekametam, W degfed, Br degvet, OIr dechmad, Ir deichniú, deichiú)


Other Gaulish numerals attested in Latin inscriptions include *petrudecametos "fourteenth" (rendered as petrudecameto, with Latinized dative-ablative singular ending) and *triconts "thirty" (rendered as tricontis, with a Latinized ablative plural ending; compare Irish tríocha). A Latinized phrase for a "ten-night festival of (Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

) Grannus
Grannus
In the Celtic polytheism of classical antiquity, Grannus was a deity associated with spas, healing thermal and mineral springs, and the sun. He was regularly identified with Apollo as Apollo Grannus...

", decamnoctiacis Granni, is mentioned in a Latin inscription from Limoges
Limoges
Limoges |Limousin]] dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France....

. A similar formation is to be found in the Gaulish-language Calendar of Coligny, where mention is made of a trinox[...] Samoni "three-night (festival?) of (the month of) Samonios".

As is to be expected, the ancient Gaulish language was more similar to Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 than modern Celtic languages are to modern Romance languages. The ordinal numerals in Latin are prīmus / prior, secundus / alter(the first form when more than two objects are counted, the second form only when two, note also that alius, like alter means "the other", the former used when more than two and the latter when only two), tertius, quārtus, quīntus, sextus, septimus, octāvus, nōnus, and decimus.

Word order



The majority of Gaulish sentences seem to consist of subject, then verb, then object, as in:
  • martialis dannotali | ieuru | ucuete | sosin celicnon
  • Subject | Verb | Indirect Object | Direct Object
    • "Martialis, son of Dannotalos, dedicated this edifice to Ucuetis"


Some, however, have patterns such as the verb first, then subject, then object (as in the normal Welsh sentence), with the verb between subject and object (or object and subject), or with the verb last. The latter can be seen as a survival from an earlier stage in the language, very much like the more archaic Celtiberian language
Celtiberian language
Celtiberian is an extinct Indo-European language of the Celtic branch spoken by the Celtiberians in an area of the Iberian Peninsula lyingbetween the headwaters of the Duero, Tajo, Júcar and Turia rivers and the Ebro river...

. Sentences with the verb first can be interpreted, however, as indicating a special purpose, such as an imperative, emphasis, contrast, and so on: or the verb may contain or be next to an enclitic pronoun or with "and" or "but", etc. According to J. F. Eska, Gaulish was certainly not a verb-second
V2 word order
In syntax, verb-second word order is the rule in some languages that the second constituent of declarative main clauses is always a verb, while this is not necessarily the case in other types of clauses.- V2 effect :...

 language, as the following shows:
  • ratin briuatiom | frontu tarbetisonios | ie(i)uru
  • NP.Acc.Sg. | NP.Nom.Sg. | V.3rd Sg.
    • "Frontus Tarbetisonios dedicated the board of the bridge."


Whenever there is a pronoun object element, it has to stand next to the verb, as per Vendryes'
Joseph Vendryes
Joseph Vendryes was a French-Celtic linguist. After studying with Antoine Meillet, he was chairman of Celtic languages and literature at the École Pratique des Hautes Études. He founded the journal Études Celtiques...

 Restriction
. The general Celtic grammar shows Wackernagel's Rule
Clitic
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level...

, so putting the verb at the beginning of the clause or sentence. As in Old Irish and traditional literary Welsh, the verb can be preceded by a particle which has no real meaning by itself, but which originally was used to make the utterance easier.
  • sioxt-i | albanos | panna(s) | extra tuð(on) | CCC
  • V-Pro.Neut. | NP.Nom.Sg. | NP.Fem.Acc.Pl. | PP | Num.
    • "Albanos added them, vessels beyond the allotment (in the amount of) 300."

  • to-me-declai obalda natina
  • Conn.-Pro.1st.Sg.Acc.-V.3rd.Sg. | NP.Nom.Sg. | Appositive
    • Obalda, (their) dear daughter, set me up."


According to Eska's model, Vendryes' Restriction is believed to have played a large rôle in the development of Insular Celtic verb-subject-object word order. Other authorities such as John T. Koch
John T. Koch
Professor John T. Koch is an American academic, historian and linguist who specializes in Celtic studies, especially prehistory and the early Middle Ages....

, dispute this interpretation.

Considering that Gaulish is not a verb-final language, it is not surprising to find other "head-initial" features.
  • Genitives follow their head nouns
    • atom deuogdonion
      • "The border of gods and men."
  • The unmarked position for adjectives is after their head nouns
    • toutious namausatis
      • "citizen of Nîmes"
  • Prepositional phrases have the preposition, naturally, first
    • in alixie
      • "in Alesia"
  • Passive clauses
    • uatiounui so nemetos commu escengilu
      • "To Vatiounos this shrine (was dedicated) by Commos Escengilos

Subordination


Subordinate clauses follow the main clause and have an uninflected element (jo) to show the subordinate clause. This is attached to the first verb of the subordinate clause.
  • gobedbi | dugijonti-jo | ucuetin | in alisija
  • NP.Dat/Inst.Pl. | V.3rd.Pl.- Pcl. | NP.Acc.Sg. | PP
    • "to the smiths who serve Ucuetis in Alisia"


Jo is also used in relative clauses and to construct the equivalent of THAT-clauses
  • scrisu-mi-jo | uelor
  • V.1st.Sg.-Pro.1st Sg.-Pcl. | V.1st Sg.
    • "I wish that I spit"


This element is found residually in the Insular Languages and appears as an independent inflected relative pronoun in Celtiberian, thus:
  • Welsh
    • Middle Welsh yssyd, modern sydd "which is" from *esti-jo
    • vs. Welsh ys "is" from *esti

  • Irish
    • Old Irish 3rd plural relative cartae "loves" from *caront-jo

  • Celtiberian
    • masc. nom. sing. ioś, masc. dat. sing. iomui, fem. acc. pl. iaś

Word Fragments ("Clitics")


Gaulish has a number of pronouns reduced to a word fragment, such as the object pronouns set inside a longer word:
  • to-so-ko-te
  • Conn. - Pro.3rd Sg.Acc - PerfVZ - V.3rd Sg
    • "he gave it"


These also occur as subject pronoun word fragments: mi, tu, id. These act like the emphasizing particles known as notae augentes in the Insular Celtic languages.
  • dessu-mii-iis
  • V.1st.Sg. | Emph.-Pcl.1st Sg.Nom. | Pro.3rd Pl.Acc.
    • "I prepare them"
  • buet-id
  • V.3rd Sg.Pres.Subjunc.-Emph.Pcl.3rd Sg.Nom.Neut.
    • "it should be"


The phenomenon known as "clitic doubling" is also found: the noun is an animate in terms of grammar, but neuter in its nature, so a neuter pronoun word fragment is added to it. This causes "left dislocation". (There is a similar construction in Old Irish.)

Corpus



The Gaulish corpus is edited in the Recueil des Inscriptions Gauloises (R.I.G.), in four volumes:
  • Vol. 1: Inscriptions in the Greek alphabet
    Greek alphabet
    The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

    , edited by Michel Lejeune (items G-1 –G-281)
  • Vol. 2.1: Inscriptions in the Etruscan alphabet (Lepontic, items E-1 – E-6), and inscriptions in the Latin alphabet in stone (items l. 1 – l. 16), edited by Michel Lejeune
  • Vol. 2.2: inscriptions in the Latin alphabet on instruments (ceramic, lead, glass etc.), edited by Pierre-Yves Lambert (items l. 18 – l. 139)
  • Vol. 3: The calendars of Coligny (73 fragments) and Villards d'Heria (8 fragments), edited by Paul-Marie Duval and Georges Pinault
  • Vol. 4: inscriptions on coins, edited by Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Beaulieu and Brigitte Fischer (338 items)


The longest known Gaulish text was found in 1983 in L'Hospitalet-du-Larzac
L'Hospitalet-du-Larzac
L'Hospitalet-du-Larzac is a commune in the Aveyron department in southern France.-Population:-References:*...

 (43°58′N 3°12′E) in Aveyron
Aveyron
Aveyron is a département in southern France named after the Aveyron River.- History :Aveyron is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790....

. It is inscribed in Latin cursive script on both sides of two small sheets of lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

. Probably curse tablet
Curse tablet
A curse tablet or binding spell is a type of curse found throughout the Graeco-Roman world, in which someone would ask the gods to do harm to others.-Description:...

s (defixio), they contain magical
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 incantation
Incantation
An incantation or enchantment is a charm or spell created using words. An incantation may take place during a ritual, either a hymn or prayer, and may invoke or praise a deity. In magic, occultism, witchcraft it may be used with the intention of casting a spell on an object or a person...

s regarding one Severa Tertionicna and a group of women (often thought to be a rival group of witches), but the exact meaning of the text remains unclear.

The Coligny calendar
Coligny calendar
The Gaulish Coligny calendar was found in Coligny, Ain, France near Lyon in 1897, along with the head of a bronze statue of a youthful male figure. It is a lunisolar calendar...

 was found in Coligny near Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

, France with a statue identified as Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

. The Coligny Calendar is a lunisolar calendar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

 that divides the year into two parts with the months underneath. SAMON "summer" and GIAMON "winter". The date of SAMON- xvii is identified as TRINVX[tion] SAMO[nii] SINDIV.

Another major text is the lead tablet of Chamalières
Chamalières
Chamalières is a commune in the Puy-de-Dôme department in Auvergne in central France.Chamalières is the third-largest town in the department and lies about from Lyon.-History:...

 (l. 100), written on lead in Latin cursive script, in twelve lines, apparently a curse
Curse
A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object...

 or incantation addressed to the god Maponos
Maponos
In ancient Celtic religion, Maponos or Maponus is a god of youth known mainly in northern Britain but also in Gaul. In Roman times he was equated with Apollo....

. It was deposited in a spring, much like defixiones often are.

The graffito of La Graufesenque
La Graufesenque
La Graufesenque is an archaeological site 2km from Millau, Aveyron, France, at the confluence of the Tarn and Dourbie rivers. As Condatomagus , it was famous in the Gallo-Roman period for the production of high quality dark red terra sigillata Roman pottery, which was made in vast quantities and...

, Millau
Millau
Millau is a commune in the Aveyron department in southern France. It is located at the confluence of the Tarn and Dourbie rivers.-History:...

, 44°05′36"N 3°05′33"E inscribed in Latin cursive on a ceramic plate, is our most important source for Gaulish numerals. It was probably written in a ceramic factory, referring to furnace
Furnace
A furnace is a device used for heating. The name derives from Latin fornax, oven.In American English and Canadian English, the term furnace on its own is generally used to describe household heating systems based on a central furnace , and sometimes as a synonym for kiln, a device used in the...

s numbered 1 to 10.

A number of short inscriptions are found on spindle whorls and are among the most recent finds in the Gaulish language. Spindle whorls were apparently given to young girls by their suitors and bear such inscriptions as:
  • moni gnatha gabi / buððutton imon (l. 119) "my girl, take my kiss"
  • geneta imi / daga uimpi (l. 120) '"I am a young girl, good (and) pretty".


Inscriptions found in Switzerland are rare, but many modern Swiss placenames are derived from Gaulish names as they are in the rest of Gaul. There is a statue of a seated goddess with a bear
Bear
Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although there are only eight living species of bear, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern...

, Artio
Artio
Artio was a Celtic bear goddess. Evidence of her worship has notably been found at Bern whose name according to legend is derived from the word Bär, "bear".-Representations and inscriptions:...

, found in Muri
Muri bei Bern
Muri bei Bern is a municipality in the Bern-Mittelland administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland.The municipality is clearly divided into two parts, each with about 6,000 people...

 near Bern, with a Latin inscription DEAE ARTIONI LIVINIA SABILLINA, suggesting a Gaulish Artiū "Bear (goddess)". A number of coins with Gaulish inscriptions in the Greek alphabet have been found in Switzerland, e.g. RIG IV Nrs. 92 (Lingones
Lingones
Lingones were a Celtic tribe that originally lived in Gaul in the area of the headwaters of the Seine and Marne rivers. Some of the Lingones migrated across the Alps and settled near the mouth of the Po River in Cisalpine Gaul of northern Italy around 400 BCE. These Lingones were part of a wave of...

) and 267 (Leuci
Leuci
The Leuci were an ancient Gallic tribe, traditionally considered to have lived the southern part of what is now Lorraine. They are mentioned by Julius Caesar as forming part of the people supplying wheat to the Roman army in 58 BC.- See also :...

). A sword dating to the La Tène
La Tène culture
The La Tène culture was a European Iron Age culture named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where a rich cache of artifacts was discovered by Hansli Kopp in 1857....

 period was found in Port near Bienne, its blade inscribed with KORICIOC (Korisos), probably the name of the smith. The most notable inscription found in Helvetic
Helvetii
The Helvetii were a Celtic tribe or tribal confederation occupying most of the Swiss plateau at the time of their contact with the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC...

 parts is the Berne Zinc tablet
Berne zinc tablet
The Bern zinc tablet was found in the 1980s in Bern. It is inscribed with an apparently Gaulish inscription, consisting of the four words, each on its own line, the letter formed by little dots impressed onto the metal:...

, inscribed ΔΟΒΝΟΡΗΔΟ ΓΟΒΑΝΟ ΒΡΕΝΟΔΩΡ ΝΑΝΤΑΡΩΡ, and apparently dedicated to Gobannus
Gobannus
Gobannus was a Gallo-Roman god, whose name, denoting "the smith", is normally taken to identify him as patron of smiths....

, the Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic god of smithcraft. Caesar relates that census accounts written in the Greek alphabet were found among the Helvetii.

See also


External links