Brythonic languages

Brythonic
Brittonic
Geographic
distribution:
Cornwall, Wales, Brittany
Genetic
classification
:
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Subdivisions:
Pictish (possibly)


The Brythonic languages (or Brittonic languages) form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic is derived from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael. The Brythonic branch is also referred to as P-Celtic because the Brythonic reflex of the Proto-Indo-European phoneme *kw is p as opposed to the Goidelic c. Such nomenclature usually implies an acceptance of the P-Celtic hypothesis rather than the Insular Celtic hypothesis (for a discussion, see Celtic languages).

Other major characteristics include:
  • the treatment of -m, -n as -am, -an.
  • initial s- followed by a vowel was changed to h-
  • Irish sean "old", sior "long", samail "similar"
  • Breton hen, hir, heñvel
  • Brythonic retains original nasals before -t
  • Breton kant "hundred" vs. Irish céad
  • sp, sr, sv/sw became f, fr, chw
  • *swero "toy, game" became Welsh chwarae and Breton c'hoari
  • *srokna "nostril" became Welsh ffroen and Breton froen.
  • all other initial s- fell before consonants
  • smero became Welsh mwyar, Breton mouar "fruit"
  • slemon became Welsh llyfn, Breton levn "smooth"
  • v became gw where in Goidelic it is f
  • vindos "white" became Welsh gwenn
  • vassos "servant, young man" became Welsh gwas
  • double plosives transformed into spirants: pp, cc, tt became f, ch (c'h), th (z) before a vowel or liquid
  • cippus > Breton kef "tree trunk", Welsh cyff
  • cattos > Breton kaz, Welsh cath
  • bucca > Breton boc'h, W boch''
  • single voiceless plosives and voiced d, b, and m in an intervocalic position became soft spirants
  • Welsh dd[ğ], th[θ], f [v]
  • Breton z, v
The major Brythonic languages are Welsh and Breton, both of which survive as community languages today. The Cornish language died out at the end of the eighteenth century, but attempts at reviving it started in the 20th century and are ongoing. Also notable are the extinct language Cumbric, and possibly the extinct Pictish (although the late Kenneth H. Jackson argued during the 1950s, from some of the few remaining examples of stone inscriptions, that the Picts may have also used a non-Indo-European language, the majority of modern scholars of Pictish do not agree).

Classification

The family tree of the Brythonic languages is as follows:

History and origins

The modern Brythonic languages are generally considered to all derive from a common ancestral language termed British, Common Brythonic, Old Brythonic or Proto-Brythonic, which is thought to have developed from Proto-Celtic, which was possibly introduced to Great Britain from the middle second millennium BC (Hawkes, 1973). However, some phylogenetic analyses are suggesting an earlier date, for example see Nichols and Atkinson. Some linguists such as Vennemann have suggested that an earlier language, Atlantic, may have influenced the Brythonic languages, but this is not generally accepted. It is possible that a Germanic language may have been present in Eastern England because of cultural links across what is now the southern North Sea.

Brythonic languages were spoken prior to the Roman invasion at least in the whole of Great Britain south of the rivers Forth and Clyde, though the Isle of Man later had a Goidelic language, Manx. Northern Scotland mainly spoke Pritennic which became Pictish that may have been a Brythonic language. The theory has been advanced (notably by R. F. O'Rahilly) that Ireland was populated by speakers of Brythonic before being displaced by speakers of a Q-Celtic language (possibly from the Quarietii tribe of southern France), although the linguists Dillon and Chadwick reject this theory as being implausible.

During the period of the Roman occupation of Great Britain (AD 43 to c. 410), Common Brythonic borrowed a large stock of Latin words, both for concepts unfamiliar in the pre-urban society of Celtic Great Britain, such as urbanisation and tactics of warfare, and for rather more mundane words which displaced native terms (most notably, the word for "fish" in all the Brythonic languages derives from the Latin piscis rather than the native *ēskos > Wysg river). Approximately eight hundred of these Latin loan-words have survived in the three modern Brythonic languages. Romano-British is the name for the Latinised form of the language used by Roman authors.

It is probable that at the start of the Post-Roman period Common Brythonic was differentiated into at least two major dialect groups - Southwestern and Western (in addition we may posit additional dialects, ie Eastern Brythonic, spoken in what is now eastern England which have left little or no evidence). Between the end of the Roman occupation and the mid sixth century the two dialects began to diverge into recognisably separate languages, the Western into Cumbric and Welsh, and the Southwestern into Cornish and its closely related sister language Breton, which was carried from the south west of Great Britain to continental Armorica. Jackson showed that a few of the dialect distinctions between West and Southwest Brythonic go back a long way. New divergencies began around AD 500 but other changes which were shared occurred in the 6th century. Other common changes occurred in the seventh century onward and are possibly due to inherent tendencies. Thus the concept of a common Brythonic language ends by AD 600. It is thought that substantial numbers of Britons remained in the expanding area controlled by Anglo-Saxons, but the only information on their language may be obtained from place names. Over time it is thought they gradually adopted the English language.

The Brythonic languages spoken in Scotland, the Isle of Man and England began to be displaced in the 5th century through the influence of Irish, Norse and Germanic invaders. The displacement of the languages of Brythonic descent was probably complete in all of this territory (except Cornwall and the English counties bordering Wales) by the 11th century (date of extinction in various parts of the territory is debated). Ivernic is a Brythonic language that may have been spoken in Ireland.

Remnants in England and Scotland

The principal legacy left behind in those territories from which the Brythonic languages were displaced is that of toponyms (place-names). There are many Brythonic place-names in lowland Scotland and in the parts of England where it is agreed that substantial Brythonic speakers remained (Brythonic names, apart from those of the former Romano-British towns, are scarce over most of England). Names derived (sometimes indirectly) from Brythonic include London, Penicuik, Perth, Aberdeen, York, Dorchester, Dover and Colchester. Brythonic elements found in England include bre- and bal- for hills, and carr for a high rocky place, while some such as coomb(e) for a small deep valley and tor for a hill are examples of Brythonic words that were borrowed into English. Others reflect the presence of Brythons, such as Dumbarton - from the Scottish Gaelic Dùn Breatainn meaning "Fort of the Britons", or Walton (several) meaning a 'tun' or settlement where Welsh/Brythons still lived.

It is generally accepted that linguistic effects on English were lexically rather poor aside from toponyms, consisting of a few domestic words, which may include hubbub, peat, bucket, crock, noggin, gob (cf. Gaelic gob), nook; and the dialectal term for a badger, i.e. brock (cf. Welsh broch, and Gaelic broc). Arguably, the use of periphrastic constructions (using auxiliary verbs like do and be) in the English verb (which is more widespread than in the other Germanic languages) is traceable to Brythonic influence.

Some researchers (Filppula et al., 2001) argue that English syntax reflects more extensive Brythonic influences. For instance, in English tag questions, the form of the tag depends on the verb form in the main statement (aren't I?, isn't he?, won't we? etc). The German nicht wahr? and the French n'est-ce pas?, by contrast, are fixed forms which can be used with almost any main statement. It has been claimed that the English system has been borrowed from Brythonic, since Welsh tag questions vary in almost exactly the same way. This view is far from being generally accepted, though.

Far more notable, but less well known, are the many Brythonic influences on Scottish Gaelic. Like English, periphrastic constructions have come to the fore, but to a much greater degree. Scottish Gaelic contains a number of apparently P-Celtic loanwords, but as there is a far greater overlap in terms of Celtic vocabulary, than with English, it is not always possible to disentangle P and Q Celtic words. In particular, the word srath (anglicised as "Strath") is a native Goidelic word, but its usage appears to have been modified by the Brythonic cognate whose meaning is slightly different.

References

  • Filppula, M., Klemola, J. and Pitkänen, H. (2001). The Celtic roots of English, Studies in languages, No. 37, University of Joensuu, Faculty of Humanities, ISBN 9 5245 8164 7
  • Hawkes, J. (1973). The first great civilizations: life in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and Egypt, The history of human society series, London: Hutchinson, ISBN 0 09 116580 6
  • Jackson, K., (1994). Language and history in early Britain: a chronological survey of the Brittonic languages, 1st to 12th c. A. D, Celtic studies series, Dublin: Four Courts Press, ISBN 1 85182 140 6

External links

Celtic languages
Continental CelticGaulish †| Lepontic † | Galatian † | Celtiberian † | Noric †
GoidelicIrish | Galwegian † | Manx | Scottish Gaelic (ScotlandCanada)
BrythonicBreton | Cornish | British † | Cumbric † | Ivernic † | Pictish † | Welsh
Mixed languagesShelta | Bungee †
Extinct
Cornwall
Kernow


(Flag)
Motto: Onen hag oll
(Cornish: One and all)


Geography
Status Ceremonial & (smaller) Non-metropolitan county
Region South West England
Area
- Total
- Admin.
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Motto
Cymru am byth   (Welsh)
"Wales forever"
Anthem
"Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"
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Brittany (Breton: Breizh pronounced /bʁejs/; French: Bretagne, pronounced ?· i
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A language family is a group of languages related by descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language. As with biological families, the evidence of relationship is observable shared characteristics.
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Breton}}}
Language codes
ISO 639-1: br
ISO 639-2: bre
ISO 639-3: bre Breton (Brezhoneg) is a Celtic language spoken by some of the inhabitants of Brittany (Breizh) in France.
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Cornish}}} 
Official status
Official language of: Not an official language but a recognised minority language in the United Kingdom
Regulated by: Kesva an Taves Kernewek (KK), Agan Tavas (UC, UCR), Cussel an Tavas Kernuak (RLC)
Language codes
ISO 639-1:
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Cumbric was the Brythonic Celtic language spoken in England in Cumbria, some parts of Northumbria and in southern Lowland Scotland, i.e. the area anciently referred to as the Hen Ogledd.
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 Pictish
}}}
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2:
ISO 639-3: xpi

Pictish is a term used for the extinct language or languages thought to be spoken by the Picts, the people of northern and central Scotland
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Welsh}}} 
Writing system: Latin alphabet (Welsh variant) 
Official status
Official language of: Wales (de facto)
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: cy
ISO 639-2: wel (B) 
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Insular Celtic hypothesis concerns the origin of the Celtic languages. The six Celtic languages of modern times can be divided into:
  • the Goidelic languages (Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic); and
  • the Brythonic languages (Breton, Cornish and Welsh).

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Goidelic languages (also sometimes called, particularly in colloquial situations, the Gaelic languages or collectively Gaelic) have historically been part of a dialect continuum stretching from the south of Ireland, through the Isle of Man, to the north of Scotland.
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Welsh}}} 
Writing system: Latin alphabet (Welsh variant) 
Official status
Official language of: Wales (de facto)
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: cy
ISO 639-2: wel (B) 
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Brython and Brythonic are terms which refer to indigenous, pre-Roman, Celtic speaking inhabitants of most of the island of Great Britain, and their cultures and languages, the Brythonic languages.
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Brython and Brythonic are terms which refer to indigenous, pre-Roman, Celtic speaking inhabitants of most of the island of Great Britain, and their cultures and languages, the Brythonic languages.
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Anglo-Saxon is the collective term usually used to describe the ethnically and linguistically related peoples living in the south and east of the island of Great Britain (modern Great Britain/United Kingdom) from around the early 5th century AD to the Norman conquest of 1066.
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Gaels are an ethno-linguistic group which originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to Scotland and the Isle of Man. Their language is of the Gaelic family, a division of Insular Celtic languages.
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Goidelic languages (also sometimes called, particularly in colloquial situations, the Gaelic languages or collectively Gaelic) have historically been part of a dialect continuum stretching from the south of Ireland, through the Isle of Man, to the north of Scotland.
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A hypothesis (from Greek ὑπόθεσις) consists either of a suggested explanation for a phenomenon or of a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible correlation between multiple phenomena.
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Celtic languages are the languages descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic", a branch of the greater Indo-European language family. During the 1st millennium BC, they were spoken across Europe, from the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, up the Rhine and down the Danube to the
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Welsh}}} 
Writing system: Latin alphabet (Welsh variant) 
Official status
Official language of: Wales (de facto)
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: cy
ISO 639-2: wel (B) 
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Breton}}}
Language codes
ISO 639-1: br
ISO 639-2: bre
ISO 639-3: bre Breton (Brezhoneg) is a Celtic language spoken by some of the inhabitants of Brittany (Breizh) in France.
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Cornish}}} 
Official status
Official language of: Not an official language but a recognised minority language in the United Kingdom
Regulated by: Kesva an Taves Kernewek (KK), Agan Tavas (UC, UCR), Cussel an Tavas Kernuak (RLC)
Language codes
ISO 639-1:
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twentieth century of the Common Era began on January 1, 1901 and ended on December 31, 2000, according to the Gregorian calendar. Some historians consider the era from about 1914 to 1991 to be the Short Twentieth Century.
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Cumbric was the Brythonic Celtic language spoken in England in Cumbria, some parts of Northumbria and in southern Lowland Scotland, i.e. the area anciently referred to as the Hen Ogledd.
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 Pictish
}}}
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2:
ISO 639-3: xpi

Pictish is a term used for the extinct language or languages thought to be spoken by the Picts, the people of northern and central Scotland
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Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (born at Beddington, Surrey on 1 November 1909, died on 20 February 1991) was an English linguist and a translator who specialised in the Brythonic languages.
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worldwide view.


2nd millennium
Centuries: 19th century - 20th century - 21st century

1920s 1930s 1940s - 1950s - 1960s 1970s 1980s
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
1955 1956 1957 1958 1959

- -
- The 1950s
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Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred related languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, the northern Indian subcontinent (South Asia), the Iranian plateau (Southwest Asia), and much of Central Asia.
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 Pictish
}}}
Language codes
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2:
ISO 639-3: xpi

Pictish is a term used for the extinct language or languages thought to be spoken by the Picts, the people of northern and central Scotland
..... Click the link for more information.
Primitive Irish is the oldest known form of the Irish language, known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the Ogham alphabet in Ireland and western Great Britain up to about the 6th century.
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