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Lecture1. Theme: Subject and aims of the history of the English language.
The earliest historical data about Germanic tribes.
Ancient Germanic languages. Evolution of East Germanic, North Germanic and
West Germanic subgroups.
History of the English language is a discipline which studies the origin, the
phonetic system, grammatical structure and vocabulary of the English language at
different stages of its development. The purpose of the history of the English
language is a systematic study of the language development from the earliest times
to the present day. It enables to acquire a more profound understanding of the
language of today. The aim of the course is to give an idea of the processes of
evolution of the English language in relation to the evolution of the English people.
Objectives are expanding the range of information on the formation and
development of the English language in close connection with the history of the
English people and a description of historical transformation under the influence of
intralinguistic and extralinguistic factors that contributed to the formation and
development of the English language in all its diversity; explanation of the factors
and processes that have influenced the formation of the modern English language,
the functioning of different variants of the English language (U.S. English,
Australian, Canadian).
Any language as a historical phenomenon has been gradually, slowly but
constantly changing throughout its history.
A language can be considered from different angles.
Social variation
Human language is a specific unique system. First of all, a language is a social
phenomenon. It is inseparably connected with the people who are its creators. It
originates and develops in the process of social interaction between the members
of community. Society affects a language in the sense that any important aspect of
social structure is likely to have a linguistic counterpart. People belong to different
social classes, perform different social roles and carry on different occupations.
Their use of language is affected by their age, ethnic group and educational
Temporal variation
Language is a very variable social phenomenon in the sense that it varies
through time. Time affects a language both in the long term and short term. Long
term: English has changed through the centuries; it has clearly distinguishable
linguistic periods as Old English, Middle English, and Elizabethan English. Short
term: English changes within the history of a single person. This is the most
noticeable while children are acquiring their mother tongue, but it is also seen
when people learn a foreign language develop their style as adult speakers and
Personal variation
People affect the language in the sense that an individual’s conscious or
unconscious choices and preferences can result in a distinctive or even unique
style. Such variations in self expression are most noticeable in those areas of
language use where great care is being taken such as in literature and humor. But
the uniqueness of individuals, arising out of differences in their memory
personality intelligence social background makes distinctiveness of style inevitable
in everyone.
Regional variation
Geography affects language both within a country and between countries,
giving rise to regional accent and dialects. Intranational regional varieties have
been observed within English from the earliest days we say Scottish English,
London English.
International varieties are more recent in origin, as we say American English,
Australian English, Indian English, African English and etc.
The model of the representation of the language from different angles
Temporal Variation
Social variation
Personal variation
If we make a model of the uses of English so as to provide an abstract
representation of its central characteristics it becomes easier to see how it is used..
Next model is the model of the structure of any language The language
incorporates three constituent parts: phonology –the pronunciation system of a
language Phonological study has two main aspects: the sound segments of the
spoken language, which takes the form of vowels and consonants; and various
patterns of intonation, rhythm, tone of voice. Lexicon is the vocabulary of a
language. Grammar is the system of rules governing the construction of sentences.
Grammatical study is divided into main aspects: syntax, dealing with the structure
and connection of sentences; and morphology, dealing with the structure and
formation of words.
Language is a system at many levels. All languages have two levels which are
meaningful and meaningless components.
A. Meaningless components, the phonemic system: Phonemes are the
smallest meaningless components that constitute the sound system of a language.
B. Meaningful components or morphosyntax: Morphemes are the smallest
meaningful components of a language. For example, the word cats consists of two
morphemes, {cat} and {-s}. Morphemes can be grammatical (having dictionary
definitions) or lexical (affixes and function words). They can be free (able to stand
alone) or bound (complete only when combined with other morphemes. Bound
lexical morphemes (or affixes) can be either derivational (used to create new
words) or inflectional (used to signal grammatical relationships). Syntax: Syntax
governs the way words come together to create sentences. The syntax of English
has become less synthetic (grammatical structures are signaled primarily by
inflectional endings) and more analytic (grammatical structures are signaled
primarily by word order and function words).
Language is arbitrary. Aside from echoic words, there is no intrinsic
relationship between words and the objects or concepts that they represent.
Language is conventional. Language is passed down from one generation to the
next. It is the nature of language to change. Notions of absolute correctness are
imposed by writers, linguists, scholars, etc. and may slow down but do not
prevent the natural process of language evolution.
English is a Germanic language which belongs to the Indo-European
languages. The Germanic languages in the modern world are as follows: English,
German, Netherlandish (known also as Dutch and Flemish), Danish, Swedish,
Norwegian, Icelandic, Frisian, Faroese, Afrikaans (in the South African Republic)
and Yiddish. If we make a model of the uses of English so as to provide an abstract
representation of its central characteristics it becomes easier to see how it is used.
We will have the following model of the use of English.
The history of the Germanic group begins with the appearance of what is
known as the Proto-Germanic language (PG). PG is the linguistic ancestor or the
parent language of the Germanic group. It is supposed to have split from related
Indo-European languages sometimes between the 15th and 10th century B.C.
PG is an entirely pre-historical language: it was never recorded in written
form. It is believed that at the earliest stages of history PG was fundamentally one
language, though dialectically coloured. In its later stages dialectal differences
grew, so that towards the beginning of our era Germanic appears divided into
dialectical groups and tribal dialects.
The external history of the ancient Teutons around the beginning of our era
is known from classical writings. The first mention of Germanic tribes was made
by Pitheas, a Greek historian and geographer of the 4 th century B.C., in an account
of a sea voyage to the Baltic Sea. Julius Caesar described some militant Germanic
tribes – the Suevians – who bordered on the Celts of Gaul in the North-East. In the
1st century A.D. Pliny the Elder, a prominent Roman scientist and writer, in
NATURAL HISTORY (NATURALIS HISTORIA) made a classified list of
Germanic tribes grouping them under six headings.
Toward the beginning of our era the common period of Germanic history
came to an end. The Teutons has extended over a larger territory and the PG
language broke into parts. PG split into three branches: East Germanic (Vindili
among them were the Goths, the Vandals and the Burgundians in Pliny’s
classification), North Germanic (Hilleviones) and West Germanic (which embraces
Ingveones, Istaveones and Herminones in Pliny’s list). Then these branches split
into separate Germanic languages: East Germanic, North Germanic and West
Germanic languages
(with dates
of the
North Germanic
Gothic (4th c.)
Old Norse or Old
Scandinavian (2nd-3rd c.)
Old Icelandic (12th c.)
Old Norwegian (13th c.)
Old Danish (13th c.)
Old Swedish (13th c.)
No living
West Germanic
Anglian, Frisian, Jutish,
Saxon, Franconian, High
German (Alemanic,
Thuringian, Swavian,
Old English (7th c.)
Old Saxon (9th c.)
Old High German (8th c.)
Old Dutch (12th c.)
All the Germanic languages of the past and present have common linguistic
features. They preserved many IE features in lexis as well as at other levels. The
most ancient etymological layer in the Germanic vocabulary is made up of words
shared by most IE languages. They refer to a number of semantic spheres: natural
phenomena, plants, animals, terms of kinship, family relations, parts of the human
body, verbs, denoting basic activities of man, some pronouns and numerals.
Lecture 2
Theme: The main historical events of the ancient period.
Celtic tribes and languages on the European continent and British Isles (1000
BC). Celtic languages in modern Britain.
The main historical events of the ancient period.
Modern man arrived in Britain 37000 years ago before the last ice age but
retreated to Southern Europe when much of Britain was ice covered, with the
remainder being tundra. At this time the sea level was about 127 m (417 ft.) lower
than it is today, so Britain was joined to Ireland and by the area known as
Doggerland to the continent or mainland of Europe.
The environment during the ice age period would have been largely treeless
tundra, eventually replaced by a gradually warmer climate. Around 10,000 years
ago the ice age finally ended. Temperatures rose, probably to levels similar to
those today, and forests expanded further. By 9,500 years ago, the rising sea levels
caused by the melting glaciers cut Britain off from Ireland and by around 6500 to
6000 BC continental Europe was cut off for the last time. Humans spread and
reached the far north of Scotland during this period. Farming of crops and
domestic animals was adopted in Britain around 4500 BC at least partly because of
the need for reliable food sources.
The Neolithic (around 4000 – 2000 BC).The Neolithic was the period of
domestication of plants and animals, a more settled way of life which led to
societies becoming divided into differing groups of farmers, artisans and leaders.
Forest clearances were undertaken to provide room for cereal cultivation and
animal herds
The settlement of Britain began in New Stone Age (Neolitic times) with
tribal groups coming from the Iberian Peninsula. They came by sea from about
4000 B.C. settling near the coasts of south and west Britain as well as in Ireland.
They brought with them the agricultural methods which had been developed
around the Mediterranean coasts, the raising of cattle and planting of wheat. As the
lowlands of Britain were still covered with forests, these settlers lived on hills such
as the chalk uplands of southern England. These tribes did not use metals yet, but
they made axes and arrowheads from flint which was mined in the chalk of
Norfolk in East Anglia. In this period the large stone circles of Stonehenge on the
chalk plateau of Salisbure Plane were begun constructing. This stone monument
consists of concentric circles of stones. It was used as observatory for planning the
times of farming operations in a society with no calendar. The construction of the
earliest earthwork sites in Britain began during the early Neolithic (c. 4400 BC –
3300 BC) in the form of long barrows used for communal burial and the first
causewayed enclosures, sites which have parallels on the continent.
The Middle Neolithic (c. 3300 BC – c. 2900 BC) saw the development of
circus monuments close to earlier barrows and the growth and abandonment of
causewayed enclosures as well as the building of impressive chamber tombs. The
earliest stone circles and individual burials also appear.
The Bronze Age (around 2200 to 750 BC).This period can be subdivided
into an earlier phase (2300 to 1200) and a later one (1200 – 700). From around
2,150 BC smiths had discovered how to make bronze (which was much harder
than copper) by mixing copper with a small amount of tin. With this discovery, the
Bronze Age arrived in Britain. Over the next thousand years, bronze gradually
replaced stone as the main material for tool and weapon making. Britain had large,
easily accessible reserves of tin in the modern areas of Cornwall and Devon in
what is now southwest England, and thus tin mining began. After about 2000 B.C.
farming people came from the east and south east, the present day France and
Belgium. They brought the use of bronze and a special kind of pottery. These
people seem to have mixed peacefully with the former settlers. After most of the
British Isles had been populated by these tribes, further settlers came from Rhine
valley. They were successive tribes of Celts. The earliest inhabitants whose
linguistic affiliation has been established are the Celts. The Celts came to Britain in
the three waves and immediately preceded the Teutons. Celtic tribes invaded
Britain about 500 B.C. Economically and socially the Celts were a tribal society
made up of kins, kinship groups, clans and tribes; they practiced a primitive
agriculture, and carried on trade with Celtic Gaul. The first millennium B.C. was
the period of Celtic migrations and expansion. Traces of their civilization are still
found all over Europe. Celtic languages were spoken over extensive parts of
Europe before our era; later they were absorbed by other IE languages and left very
few vestiges behind.
The Bronze Age people lived in round houses and divided up the landscape.
Stone rows are to be seen on, for example, Dartmoor. They ate cattle, sheep, pigs
and deer as well as shellfish and birds. They carried out salt manufacture. The
wetlands were a source of wildfowl and reeds.
The Iron Age (around 750 BC – 43 AD)
In around 750 BC iron working techniques reached Britain from southern
Europe. Iron was stronger and more plentiful than bronze, and its introduction
marks the beginning of the Iron Age. Iron working changed many aspects of life,
most importantly agriculture. Iron tipped ploughs could churn up land far more
quickly and deeply than older wooden or bronze ones, and iron axes could clear
forest land far more efficiently for agriculture. There was a landscape of arable,
pasture and managed woodland. There were many enclosed settlements and land
ownership was important. By 500 BC most people inhabiting the western British
Isles were speaking some form of Insular Celtic. Among these people were skilled
craftsmen who had begun producing gold jewellery, in addition to tools and
weapons of both bronze and iron. Place names and tribal names from the later part
of the period suggest that a Celtic language was spoken. Iron Age Britons lived in
organized tribal groups, ruled by a chieftain. As people became more numerous,
wars broke out between opposing tribes. This was traditionally interpreted as the
reason for the building of hill forts, first had been built about 1,500 BC, hill fort
building peaked during the later Iron Age. There are over 2000 Iron Age hill forts
known in Britain. By about 350 BC many hill forts went out of use and the
remaining ones were reinforced.
Celtic tribes and languages on the European continent and British Isles
The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather
Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture (ca. 800-450 BC), named
for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria. By the later La Tène period (ca. 450
BC up to the Roman conquest), this Celtic culture had expanded over a wide range
of regions, whether by diffusion or migration: to the British Isles (Insular Celts),
the Iberian Peninsula (Celtiberians, Celtici ), much of Central Europe, (Gauls) and
following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC as far east as central
Anatolia (Galatians).
The earliest directly attested examples of a Celtic language are the Lepontic
inscriptions, beginning from the 6th century BC. Continental Celtic languages are
attested only in inscriptions and place-names. Insular Celtic is attested from about
the 4th century AD in ogham inscriptions, although it is clearly much earlier.
Literary tradition begins with Old Irish from about the 8th century. Coherent texts
of Early Irish literature, such as The Cattle Raid of Cooley, survive in 12th-century
recensions. According to the theory of John T. Koch and others, the Tartessian
language may have been the earliest directly attested Celtic language with the
Tartessian written script used in the inscriptions based on a version of a Phoenician
script in use around 825 BC.
The Gaelic branch has survived as Irish (or Erse) in Ireland, has expanded to
Scotland as Scotch-Gaelic of the Highlands and is still spoken by a few hundred
people on the Isle of Man (the Manx language). The Britonnic branch is
represented by Kymric or Welsh in modern Wales and by Breton or Armorican
spoken by over a million people in modern France( in the area called Bretagne or
Britanny, where the Celts came as emigrants from Britain in the 5th c.); another
Britonic dialect in Great Britain, Cornish, was spoken in Cornwall until the end of
the 18th c.
By the early 1st millennium AD, following the expansion of the Roman
Empire and the Great Migrations (Migration Period) of Germanic peoples, Celtic
culture had become restricted to the British Isles (Insular Celtic), and the
Continental Celtic languages ceased to be widely used by the 6th century.
Insular Celtic culture diversified into that of the Gaels, the Welsh and the
Bretons of the medieval and modern periods.
Latin "Gallus" might originally be from a Celtic ethnic or tribal name,
perhaps borrowed into Latin during the Celtic expansions into Italy of the early 5th
century BC. Its root may be the Common Celtic "*galno", meaning power or
strength. Galli and Galatae most probably go with Old Irish gal 'boldness, ferocity'
and Welsh gallu 'to be able, power'. The Greek "Galatai" seems to be based on the
same root, borrowed directly from the same hypothetical Celtic source which gave
us "Galli" (the suffix "-atai" is an Ancient Greek inflection).
Today, the term Celtic is generally used to describe the languages and
respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man and
Brittany, also known as the Six Celtic Nations. These are the regions where four
Celtic languages are still spoken to some extent as mother tongues: Irish Gaelic,
Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton plus two recent revivals, Cornish (one of the
Brythonic languages) and Manx (one of the Goidelic languages). There are also
attempts to reconstruct the Cumbric language (a Brythonic language from
Northwest England and Southwest Scotland). 'Celtic' is also sometimes used to
describe regions of Continental Europe that claim a Celtic heritage, but where no
Celtic language has survived; these areas include the western Iberian Peninsula, i.e.
Portugal, and north-central Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and León,
Extremadura). "Continental Celts" refers to the Celtic-speaking people of mainland
Europe. "Insular Celts" refers to the Celtic-speaking people of the British Isles and
their descendants. The Celts of Brittany derive their language from migrating
insular Celts from west Britain and so are grouped accordingly.
The Celtic languages form a branch of the larger Indo-European family. By
the time speakers of Celtic languages enter history around 400 BC, they were
already split into several language groups, and spread over much of Western
continental Europe, the Iberian peninsula, Ireland and Britain.
Proto-Celtic, the latest common ancestor of all known Celtic languages, is
considered to have been spoken in the early 1st millennium BC. The spread of the
Celtic languages to Iberia, Ireland and Britain would have occurred during the first
half of the 1st millennium BC, the earliest chariot burials in Britain dating to ca.
500 BC. Over the centuries they developed into the separate Celtiberian, Goidelic
and Brythonic languages.
Celtic river-names are found in great numbers around the upper reaches of
the Danube and Rhine, which led many Celtic scholars to place the ethnogenesis of
the Celts in this area.
Diodorus Siculus and Strabo both suggest that the Celtic heartland was in
southern France. The former says that the Gauls were to the north of the Celts but
that the Romans referred to both as Gauls. It was generally considered that the
Celtic heartland was southern France.
Proto-Celtic language
The Proto-Celtic language is usually dated to the early European Iron Age.
The earliest records of a Celtic language are the Lepontic inscriptions of Cisalpine
Gaul, the oldest of which still predate the La Tène period. Other early inscriptions
are Gaulish, appearing from the early La Tène period in inscriptions in the area of
Massilia, in the Greek alphabet. Celtiberian inscriptions appear comparatively late,
after about 200 BC. Evidence of Insular Celtic is available only from about 400
AD, in the form of Primitive Irish Ogham inscriptions. Besides epigraphical
evidence, an important source of information on early Celtic is toponymy. At the
dawn of history in Europe, the Celts then living in what is now France were known
as Gauls to the Romans. The territory of these peoples probably included the low
countries, the Alps and what is now northern Italy. Their descendants were
described by Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars. Eastern Gaul was the centre of the
western La Tène culture. In later Iron Age Gaul, the social organization was
similar to that of the Romans, with large towns. Following the Gallic Wars of 5851 BC, Caesar's Celtica formed the main part of Roman Gaul. This territory of the
Celtic tribes was bounded on the south by the Garonne and on the north by the
Seine and the Marne. Place and personal name analysis and inscriptions suggest
that the Gaulish Celtic language was spoken over most of what is now France.
Until the end of the 19th century, traditional scholarship dealing with the
Celts acknowledged their presence in the Iberian Peninsula as a material culture
relatable to the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures. Since according to the definition of
the Iron Age in the 19th century Celtic populations were rare in Iberia and did not
provide a cultural scenario that could easily be linked to that of Central Europe.
Three divisions of the Celts of the Iberian Peninsula were assumed to have existed:
the Celtiberians in the mountains near the center of the peninsula, the Celtici in the
southwest, and the celts in the northwest.
Modern scholarship, however, has clearly proven that Celtic presence and
influences were most substantial in what is today Spain and Portugal (with perhaps
the highest settlement saturation in Western Europe), particularly in the central,
western and northern regions.The Celts in Iberia were divided into two main
archaeological and cultural groups. One group was spread out along Galicia and
the Iberian Atlantic shores. They were made up of the Lusitanians (in Portugal)
and the Celtic region that Strabo called Celtica in the southwestern Iberian
peninsula, including the Algarve, which was inhabited by the Celtici, the Vettones
and Vacceani peoples(of central-western Spain and Portugal), and the Gallaecian,
Astures and Cantabrian peoples of the Castro culture of northern and northwestern
Spain and Portugal.
The Celtiberian group of central Spain and the upper Ebro valley originated
when Celts (mainly Gauls and some Celtic-Germanic groups) migrated from what
is now France and integrated with the local Iberian people.
The origins of the Celtiberians might provide a key to understanding the
Celticization process in the rest of the Peninsula. The process of celticization of the
southwestern area of the peninsula by the Keltoi and of the northwestern area is,
however, not a simple Celtiberian question. Recent investigations about the
Callaici in northwestern Portugal are providing new approaches to understanding
Celtic culture (language, art and religion) in western Iberia.
In 391 BC Celts "who had their homes beyond the Alps streamed through the
passes in great strength and seized the territory that lay between the Appennine
mountains and the Alps". The Po Valley and the rest of northern Italy (known to
the Romans as Cisalpine Gaul) were inhabited by Celtic-speakers who founded
cities such as Milan. Later the Roman army was routed at the battle of Allia and
Rome was sacked in 390 BC by the Senones.
At the battle of Telamon in 225 BC a large Celtic army was trapped between
two Roman forces and crushed.
The defeat of the combined Samnite, Celtic and Etruscan alliance by the
Romans in the Third Samnite War sounded the beginning of the end of the Celtic
domination in mainland Europe, but it was not until 192 BC that the Roman armies
conquered the last remaining independent Celtic kingdoms in Italy.
The Celts also expanded down the Danube River and its tributaries. One of the
most influential tribes, the Scordisci, had established their capital at Singidunum in
3rd century BC, which is present-day Belgrade, Serbia. The concentration of hill-
forts and cemeteries shows a density of population in the Tisza valley of modernday Vojvodina, Serbia, Hungary and into Ukraine.
Further south, Celts settled in Thrace (Bulgaria), which they ruled for over a
century, and Anatolia, where they settled as the Galatians (see also: Gallic Invasion
of Greece). Despite their geographical isolation from the rest of the Celtic world,
the Galatians maintained their Celtic language for at least 700 years. St Jerome,
who visited Ancyra (modern-day Ankara) in 373 AD, likened their language to that
of the Treveri of northern Gaul.
Galatia in central Turkey was an area of dense Celtic settlement.
The Boii tribe gave their name to Bohemia, Bologna and possibly Bavaria,
and Celtic artefacts and cemeteries have been discovered further east in what is
now Poland and Slovakia. A celtic coin (Biatec) from Bratislava's mint is
displayed on today's Slovak 5-crown coin. Celtic tribes inhabited land in what is
now southern Germany and Austria.Many scholars have associated the earliest
Celtic peoples with the Hallstatt culture. Boii, Scordisci and the Vindelici are some
of the tribes that inhabited Central Europe, including what is now Slovakia, Serbia,
Croatia, Poland and the Czech Republic as well as Germany and Austria.. Celts
also founded Singidunum present-day Belgrade, leaving many words in Serbian
language (over 5000).
As there is no archaeological evidence for large scale invasions in some of the
other areas, one current school of thought holds that Celtic language and culture
spread to those areas by contact rather than invasion. However, the Celtic
invasions of Italy and the expedition in Greece and western Anatolia, are well
documented in Greek and Latin history.
There are records of Celtic mercenaries in Egypt serving the Ptolemies.
Thousands were employed in 283-246 BC and they were also in service around
186 BC. They attempted to overthrow Ptolemy II.
A large portion of the indigenous populations of Britain and Ireland today
may be partially descended from the ancient peoples that have long inhabited these
lands, before the coming of Celtic and later Germanic peoples, language and
culture. Little is known of their original culture and language, but remnants of the
latter may remain in the names of some geographical features, such as the rivers
Clyde, Tamar and Thames, whose etymology is unclear but possibly derive from a
pre-Celtic substrate (Gelling). By the Roman period, however, most of the
inhabitants of the isles of Ireland and Britain were speaking Goidelic or Brythonic
languages, close counterparts to the Celtic languages spoken on the European
Historians explained this as the result of successive invasions from the
European continent by diverse Celtic-speaking peoples over the course of several
centuries. The Book of Leinster, written in the 12th century, but drawing on a
much earlier Irish oral tradition, states that the first Celts to arrive in Ireland were
from Iberia. In 1946 the Celtic scholar T. F. O'Rahilly published his extremely
influential model of the early history of Ireland which postulated four separate
waves of Celtic invaders. It is still not known what languages were spoken by the
peoples of Ireland and Britain before the arrival of the Celts.
Celtic languages in modern Britain.
The Celtic languages are 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 Black
Sea and the Upper Balkan Peninsula, and into Asia Minor (Galatia). Today, Celtic
languages are limited to a few areas on the western fringe of Europe, notably
Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the peninsula of Brittany in France, and Cornwall and the
Isle of Man. Celtic languages are also spoken on Cape Breton Island and in
Patagonia. The spread to Cape Breton and Patagonia occurred in modern times.
Celtic languages were spoken in Australia before federation in 1901. Some people
speak Celtic languages in the other Celtic diaspora areas of the United States,
Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In all these areas the Celtic languages are
now only spoken by minorities although there are continuing efforts at revival.
Six "living" Celtic languages, of which four have retained a substantial
number of native speakers are Welsh and Breton, descended from the British
language of the Roman era, and Irish and Scottish Gaelic, descended from the
common Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic of the Early Modern period.
The other two, Cornish and Manx, were extinct or near-extinct in the 20th
century, and are now "living" only as the result of language revival efforts, with a
small number of children brought up as bilingual speakers. Taken together, there
were roughly one million native speakers of Celtic languages.
Proto-Celtic divided into four sub-families:
1) Gaulish and its close relatives Lepontic, Noric, and Galatian. These
languages were once spoken in a wide arc from France to Turkey and
from Belgium to northern Italy. They are now all extinct.
2) Celtiberian, anciently spoken in the Iberian peninsula in parts of modern
Aragón, Old Castile, and New Castile in Spain. Lusitanian, from
Southern Portugal, may also have been a Celtic language. These are now
also extinct.
3) Goidelic, including Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. At one time there
were Irish on the coast of southwest England and on the coast of north
and south Wales.
4) Brythonic, including Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Cumbric, and possibly also
Pictish though this may be a sister language rather than a daughter of
British (Common Brythonic). Before the arrival of Scotti on the Isle of
Man in the 9th century there may have been a Brythonic language in the
Isle of Man.
Differences between the Goidelic and Brythonic languages arose after these
split off from the Continental Celtic languages. Other scholars (such as Schmidt
1988) distinguish between P-Celtic and Q-Celtic, putting most of the Gaulish and
Brythonic languages in the former group and the Goidelic and Celtiberian
languages in the latter. The P-Celtic languages (also called Gallo-Brittonic) are
sometimes seen (for example by Koch 1992) as a central innovating area as
opposed to the more conservative peripheral Q-Celtic languages.
The Breton language is Brythonic, not Gaulish. When the Anglo-Saxons
moved into Great Britain, several waves of the native Britons crossed the English
Channel and landed in Brittany. They brought with them their Brythonic language,
which evolved into Breton – still partially intelligible by modern Welsh and
Cornish speakers.
In the P/Q classification scheme the first language to split off from ProtoCeltic was Gaelic. It has characteristics that some scholars see as archaic but others
see as also being in the Brythonic languages (see Schmidt). With the
Insular/Continental classification scheme the split of the former into Gaelic and
Brythonic is seen as being late.
The distinction of Celtic into these four sub-families most likely occurred
about 900 BC
Celtic languages, since no Continental Celtic language has living
descendants, such as Q-Celtic" is equivalent to "Goidelic" and "P-Celtic" is
equivalent to "Brythonic".
The Celtic nations are territories in North-West Europe in which that area's
own Celtic languages and cultural traits have survived.
The six territories recognised as Celtic nations are Brittany (Breizh),
Cornwall (Kernow), Ireland (Éire), the Isle of Man (Mannin), Scotland (Alba), and
Wales (Cymru). Limitation to these six is sometimes disputed by people from
Asturias and Galicia (including Northern Portugal). Until the expansions of the
Roman Republic and Germanic tribes, a significant part of Western Europe was
mainly Celtic.
Each of the six nations has its own living Celtic language. In Wales,
Scotland, Britanny, and Ireland, these have been spoken continuously through
time, while Cornwall and the Isle of Man have languages that were spoken into
modern times but later died as spoken community languages. In both of the latter
regions, however, revitalization movements have led to the adoption of these
languages by adults and produced a number of native speakers.
Ireland, Wales, Brittany and Scotland contain areas where a Celtic language
is used on a daily basis – in Ireland the area is called the Gaeltacht, Y Fro Gymraeg
in Wales, and in Brittany Breizh-Izel. Generally these communities are in the west
of their countries and in upland or island areas. The term Gàidhealtachd
historically distinguished the Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland (the Highlands)
from the Lowland Scots-speaking areas. More recently, this term has also been
adopted as the Gaelic name of the Highland council area, which includes nonGaelic speaking areas. Hence, more specific terms such as sgìre Ghàidhlig
("Gaelic-speaking area") are now used.
In Wales, the Welsh language is a core curriculum (compulsory) subject,
which all pupils study.[ Additionally, 20% of school children in Wales go to Welsh
medium schools, where "they are taught entirely in the Welsh language". In
Ireland, 7.4% of primary school education is through Irish medium education.
Lecture 3
The theme: The Roman occupation of Britain and its influence on
different spheres of life in Britain.
In the first century B.C. Gaul was conquered by the Romans. Having
occupied Gaul, Julius Caesar made two raids on Britain in 55 and 54 B.C. The
British Isles had long been known to the Romans as a source of valuable tin ore;
Caesar attacked Britain for economic reasons – to obtain tin, pearls and corn, -and
also for strategic reasons, since rebels and refugees from Gaul found support
among their kinsmen. But these Caesar’s attacks failed. The Roman conquest of
Britain was a gradual process, beginning effectively in AD 43 under Emperor
Claudius, whose general Aulus Plautius served as first governor of Britannia.
However, Great Britain had already frequently been the target of invasions,
planned and actual, by forces of the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. In
common with other regions on the edge of the empire, Britain had enjoyed
diplomatic and trading links with the Romans in the century since Julius Caesar's
expeditions in 55 and 54 BC, and Roman economic and cultural influence was a
significant part of the British late pre-Roman Iron Age, especially in the south.
Between 55 BC and the 40s AD, the status quo of tribute, hostages, and
client states without direct military occupation, begun by Caesar's invasions of
Britain, largely remained intact. Augustus prepared invasions in 34 BC, 27 BC and
25 BC. The first and third were called off due to revolts elsewhere in the empire,
the second because the Britons seemed ready to come to terms.
Caligula planned a campaign against the British in 40 AD, but its execution
was bizarre: according to Suetonius, he drew up his troops in battle formation
facing the English Channel and ordered them to attack the standing water.
Afterwards, he had the troops gather sea shells, referring to them as "plunder from
the ocean, due to the Capitol and the Palace", his invasion attempt readied the
troops and facilities that would make Claudius' invasion possible 3 years later (e.g.
a lighthouse was built by Caligula at Boulogne-sur-Mer, the model for the one
built soon after 43 at ancient Dover).
Three years later, in 43, possibly by re-collecting Caligula's troops, Claudius
mounted an invasion force to re-instate Verica, an exiled king of the Atrebates.
Aulus Plautius, a distinguished senator, was given overall charge of four legions,
totalling about 20,000 men, plus about the same number of auxiliaries.
The main invasion force under Aulus Plautius crossed in three divisions. The
port of departure is usually taken to have been Boulogne, and the main landing at
Rutupiae (Richborough, on the east coast of Kent). Richborough has a large natural
harbour which would have been suitable, and archaeology shows Roman military
occupation at about the right time. By Claudius’s time, no foreign territory was
deemed immune to conquest. The recently enthroned Claudius needed to
consolidate his authority. The Romans swept rapidly through south-east England,
brutally eliminating whatever resistance they encountered, which wasn’t much.
British resistance was led by Togodumnus and Caratacus, sons of the late
king of the Catuvellauni, Cunobelinus. A substantial British force met the Romans
at a river crossing thought to be near Rochester on the River Medway. The battle
raged for two days. The British were pushed back to the Thames. The Romans
pursued them across the river causing them to lose men in the marshes of Essex;
one division of auxiliary Batavian troops swam across the river as a separate force.
Togodumnus died shortly after the battle on the Thames. Aulus Plautius
halted and sent a message for Claudius to join him for the final push. Cassius Dio
presents this as Plautius needing the emperor's assistance to defeat the resurgent
British, who were determined to avenge Togodumnus. However, Claudius was not
a military man. Claudius's arch says he received the surrender of eleven kings
without any loss, and Suetonius says that Claudius received the surrender of the
Britons without battle or bloodshed. It is likely that the Catuvellauni were already
as good as beaten, allowing the emperor to appear as conqueror on the final march
on Camulodunum. Cassius Dio relates that he brought war elephants and heavy
armaments which would have overawed any remaining native resistance. Eleven
tribes of South East Britain surrendered to Claudius and the Romans prepared to
move further west and north. The Romans established their new capital at
Camulodunum and Claudius returned to Rome to celebrate his victory. Caratacus
escaped and would continue the resistance further west. Campaigns under Aulus
Plautius focused on the commercially valuable southeast of Britain. A tribal
chieftain, Caratacus, retreating tactically from the early Roman capital
Camulodunum (Colchester) to south Wales, managed to put up enough of a fight
for the Romans to spare his life after he was captured and brought to Rome. There
was also continued resistance in Wales, largely led by Druid priests.
Late in 47 the new governor of Britain, Ostorius Scapula, began a campaign
against the tribes of modern day Wales, and the Cheshire Gap. The Silures of south
east Wales caused considerable problems to Ostorius and fiercely defended the
Welsh border country. Caratacus himself was defeated in the Battle of Caer
Caradoc and fled to the Roman client tribe of the Brigantes who occupied the
Pennines. Their queen, Cartimandua was unable or unwilling to protect him
however given her own truce with the Romans and handed him over to the
invaders. Ostorius died and was replaced by Aulus Gallus who brought the Welsh
borders under control but did not move further north or west, probably because
Claudius was keen to avoid what he considered a difficult and drawn-out war for
little material gain in the mountainous terrain of upland Britain. When Nero
became emperor in AD 54, he seems to have decided to continue the invasion and
appointed Quintus Veranius as governor, a man experienced in dealing with the
troublesome hill tribes of Asia Minor. Veranius and his successor Gaius Suetonius
Paulinus mounted a successful campaign across Wales, famously destroying the
druidical centre at Mona or Anglesey in AD 60. Druids oppose landing of Romans.
After Caratacus, the next spirited fightback was a decade later, when the
widowed tribal queen, Boudicca, spearheaded a combined rebel force of her own
Iceni people and the neighbouring Trinovantes.
Boudica (pronounced /ˈbuːdɨkə/; also spelled Boudicca), formerly known as
Boadicea /boʊdɨˈsiːə/ and known in Welsh as "Buddug" [ˈbɨ̞ðɨ̞ɡ][1] (d. AD 60 or
61) was a queen of a Celtic tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces
of the Roman Empire.
Boudica's husband Prasutagus, ruler of the Iceni tribe who had ruled as a
nominally independent ally of Rome, left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and
the Roman Emperor in his will. However, when he died his will was ignored. The
kingdom was annexed as if conquered, Boudica was flogged and her daughters
raped, and Roman financiers called in their loans.
In AD 60 or 61, while the Roman governor, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, was
leading a campaign on the island of Anglesey in north Wales, Boudica led the Iceni
people, along with the Trinovantes and others, in revolt. They destroyed
Camulodunum (modern Colchester), formerly the capital of the Trinovantes, but
now a colonia (a settlement for discharged Roman soldiers) and the site of a temple
to the former emperor Claudius, which was built and maintained at local expense.
They burned down three major southern towns, including the newly founded
Londinium. When this coalition army was annihilated, Boudicca swallowed poison
to avoid the indignity of capture.
During the decades of the 70s and 80s, the Romans extended their sway over
the island, pushing north-westwards from their southern base. They caused panic
and terror wherever they arrived, but their presence also led to the founding of
many towns and cities, such as Bath, Lincoln, Chester and York, connected by
long, straight roads like Watling Street and Fosse Way. The push eventually
crossed into Scotland, but the further north the imperial forces penetrated, the less
appetite they appeared to have for hanging on to the new territories won.
Final occupation of Wales was postponed however when the rebellion of
Boudica forced the Romans to return to the south east. The Silures were not finally
conquered until circa AD 76 when Sextus Julius Frontinus' long campaign against
them began to have success.
Following the successful suppression of Boudica, a number of new Roman
governors continued the conquest by edging north. Cartimandua was forced to ask
for Roman aid following a rebellion by her husband Venutius. Quintus Petillius
Cerialis took his legions from Lincoln as far as York and defeated Venutius near
Stanwick around 70. This resulted in the already Romanised Brigantes and Parisii
tribes being further assimilated into the empire proper. Frontinus was sent into
Roman Britain in 74 AD to succeed Quintus Petillius Cerialis as governor of that
island. He subdued the Silures and other hostile tribes of Wales, establishing a new
base at Caerleon for Legio II Augusta and a network of smaller forts fifteen to
twenty kilometres apart for his auxiliary units. During his tenure, he probably
established the fort at Pumsaint in west Wales, largely to exploit the gold deposits
at Dolaucothi. He retired in 78 AD, and later he was appointed water commissioner
in Rome. The new governor was Gnaeus Julius Agricola, made famous through the
highly laudatory biography of him written by his son-in-law, Tacitus.
Arriving in mid-summer of 78, Agricola found several previously defeated
peoples had re-established their independence. The first to be dealt with were the
Ordovices of north Wales, who had destroyed a cavalry ala of Roman auxiliaries
stationed in their territory. Knowing the terrain from his prior military service in
Britain, he was able to move quickly to defeat and virtually exterminate them. He
then invaded Anglesey, forcing the inhabitants to sue for peace. The following year
he moved against the Brigantes of northern England and the Selgovae along the
southern coast of Scotland, using overwhelming military power to re-establish
Roman control. Details of the early years of the Roman occupation in North
Britain are unclear but began no earlier than 71, as Tacitus says that in that year
Petillius Cerialis (governor 71 – 74) waged a successful war against the Brigantes
whose territory straddled Britain along the Solway-Tyne line. Tacitus praises both
Cerialis and his successor Julius Frontinus (governor 75 – 78), but provides no
additional information on events prior to 79 regarding the lands or peoples living
north of the Brigantes. However, the Romans certainly would have followed up
their initial victory over the Brigantes in some manner. In particular, archaeology
has shown that the Romans had campaigned and built military camps in the north
along Gask Ridge, controlling the glens that provided access to and from the
Scottish Highlands, and also throughout the Scottish Lowlands in northeastern
Scotland. In describing Agricola's campaigns, Tacitus does not explicitly state that
this is actually a return to lands previously occupied by Rome, where Roman
occupation either had been thrown off by the inhabitants, or had been abandoned
by the Romans. The Romans subdued the Britions and colonized the country
establishing a great number of military camps which eventually developed into
English cities. Under the emperor Domitian, about 80 A.D. they reached the
territory of the modern cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow.
After a prolonged general withdrawal from the Scottish outposts, the
emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of a defensive wall across the border in
AD 122, from Carlisle to Newcastle. This stone wall built to protect the province
from the inroads of the Celtic Scots and non-Indo-European Picts, the Celtic tribes
of Caledonia. Although the wall was never finished, it marked the northern border
of what was by then a continent-wide empire. In 138, Hadrian’s successor
Antonius Pius ordered a new wall to be built across Scotland, pushing the
boundary further north again. An attempt was made to push this line north to the
River Clyde-River Forth area in 142 when the Antonine Wall was constructed.
However, this was once again abandoned after two decades and only subsequently
re-occupied on an occasional basis. The Romans retreated to the earlier and
stronger Hadrian's Wall in the River Tyne-Solway Firth frontier area. Roman
troops, however, penetrated far into the north of modern Scotland several more
times. Indeed, there is a greater density of Roman marching camps in Scotland
than anywhere else in Europe as a result of at least four major attempts to subdue
the area. The most notable was in 209 when the emperor Septimus Severus,
claiming to be provoked by the belligerence of the Maeatae tribe, campaigned
against the Caledonian Confederacy. He used the three legions of the British
garrison (augmented by the recently formed 2nd Parthica legion), 9000 imperial
guards with cavalry support, and numerous auxiliaries supplied from the sea by the
British fleet, the Rhine fleet and two fleets transferred from the Danube for the
purpose. According to Dio Cassius, he inflicted genocidal depredations on the
natives and incurred the loss of 50,000 of his own men to the attrition of guerrilla
tactics before having to withdraw to Hadrian's Wall. He repaired and reinforced the
wall with a degree of thoroughness that led most subsequent Roman authors to
attribute the construction of the wall to him. It was during the negotiations to
purchase the truce necessary to secure the Roman retreat to the wall that the first
recorded utterance, attributable with any reasonable degree of confidence, to a
native of Scotland was made (as recorded by Dio Cassius). The emperor Septimus
Severus died at York while planning to renew hostilities, but these plans were
abandoned by his son Caracalla.
Later excursions into Scotland by the Romans were generally limited to the
scouting expeditions in the buffer zone that developed between the walls, trading
contacts, bribes to purchase truces from the natives, and eventually the spread of
Christianity. The degree to which the Romans interacted with the island of
Hibernia is still unresolved amongst archaeologists in Ireland. The successes and
failures of the Romans in subduing the peoples of Britain are still represented in
the political geography of the British Isles today, with the modern border between
Scotland and England running close to the line of Hadrian's Wall.
The local nobility survived by reaching accommodations with Roman
power. Wholesale Romanization of local culture and customs was the price paid
for a relatively peaceable coexistence with the occupying power. Despite the
popular image, most ordinary people probably remained fairly untouched by the
conquest. Life at the most primitive level continued unscathed, but by the third
century, Britain was booming under Roman tutelage. Wool and grain, animal
skins, and metals such as silver and tin, underpinned a flourishing export trade.
When the end of the Roman era came, Britain was far from being the
ruthlessly oppressed colony suddenly breaking the chains of its bondage. It had
established its own economic and political traditions within the Empire, even
electing its own rulers, either from within the Roman military ranks or not.
The Roman occupation of Britain lasted nearly 400 years; the province was
carefully guarded: about 40,000 men were stationed there. Two fortified walls ran
across the country, a network of paved Roman roads connected the towns and
military camps. Scores of towns with a mixed population grew along the Roman
roads – inhabited by Roman legionaries, civilians and by the native Celts; among
the most important trading centres of Roman Britain was London. The Roman
occupation came to an end in the early 5th c. In A.D. 410, the Roman troops were
officially withdrawn to Rome by the emperor Constantine. This temporary
withdrawal turned out to be final, because the Empire was breaking up due to
internal and external causes, - particularly the attacks of barbarian tribes (including
the Teutons) when Rome itself was threatened by an incursion of the Goths under
king Alaric in this very year 410 the city of Rome was captured by the Goths. The
other cause was the growth of independent kingdoms on former Roman territories.
The expansion of Franks to Gaul in the 5th c. cut off Britain from the Roman world.
By AD 410, the date usually given for the end of the Roman era, the Empire was
riddled with internal conflicts and weakened by attacks in its own heartland. As the
British at last stood up to it, rejecting the idea of government from the heart of the
continent, they had sensed – correctly – that the Romans had neither the resources
nor the administrative will to hold on to Britain. A celebrated letter from the
Roman emperor Honorius gave the command to withdraw troops, warning the
British that they would have to look to their own defence.
Four centuries of Roman occupation had a profound effect on the country,
had meant far- reaching Romanization, or Latinization, of life in Great Britain,
including Christianization of its inhabitants and the establishment of Latin, besides
Brittonic( a sub-branch of Common Celtic from which Welsh, Cornish and Breton
are said to have been derived), as the language of administration and law as well as
of the Church and at least the second language of the upper strata among the
urban and rural population of Roman Britain. Romanization of distant Britain was
more superficial than that of continental provinces (e.g. Gaul and Iberia, where the
complete linguistic conquest resulted in the growth of new Romance languages,
French and Spanish.
After the departure of the Roman legions the richest and most civilized part
of the island, the south-east, was laid waste. Many towns were destroyed. Constant
feuds among local landlords as well as the increased assaults of the Celts from the
North and also the first Germanic raids from beyond the North Sea proved ruinous
to the civilization of Roman Britain. The Britons had to rely on their own forces in
the coming struggle with Germanic tribes.