The Modern Gaulish Language
The revival of the Gaulish language: Galáthach hAthevíu


1. A discussion group on, for and in the modern Gaulish language:

2. A comprehensive English-Modern Gaulish-English dictionary:

3. A series of step-by-step lessons in several languages, including English, Portuguese, French, German and Italian:

4. A memrise course:

5. a) A collection of translations of poetry and prose in modern and in old Gaulish:áthach-hAthevíu-Poetry/dp/1511644265

b) a collection of original poetry, songs and stories in the modern Gaulish language:

6. A collection of soundfiles, including songs, in  modern Gaulish:

7. A collection of essays on aspects of Gaulish language and culture:

8. A translation of Asterix The Gaul in modern Gaulish:

9. A translation of Agrippa, a manga about Vercingetorix:

4. Personal pronouns

     Personal pronoun morphology

The personal pronouns of Gaulish are reasonably well attested in the historical material, and are as follows:
For a discussion of attested forms, see Lambert (2003, p. 69, 160) and Delamarre (2003, p. 269, 277).

For all intents and purposes, the 3rd pers. sing. fem.and neutre have become one and the same. As such, í is used to indicate feminine subjects as well as neutre subjects, i.e. undefined, generalistic subjects such as the weather, or subjects which have not or nor yet been specified.

     e.g.: cána í – she sings
             esi í math – it [the weather] is fine

     Personal pronouns as subject or object of a verb

The above pronouns are used when they are the subject of a sentence. When used as object in a sentence, the personal pronouns are largely the same as the above, with a few exceptions. Based on the following Classical Gaulish data, it is possible to extrapolate tentative forms for object pronouns:

     avot-ni: made us
     avot-ide: made it
     avot-i: made her
     avot-e: made him
     avot-is: made them
     (in “Receuil des Inscriptions Gauloises”, from Bernard Mees, pers. com. 2009)

This indicates that when used as object (in the accusative case), the Gaulish pronouns take the same form as when used as subject (in the nominative case). An example of this is “avot-ni” where the form “ni”, used in the accusative, is the same as the form “ni” encountered elsewhere in the nominative (e.g. at Thiaucourt, Delamarre 2003, p. 336, B. Mees, 2009).

This position is further reinforced by the Banassac word “tieđi”, which is translated as “at/to you-is”, where the accusative form of the second person singular pronoun appears to be the same as the nominative form of the same pronoun, also attested elsewhere (Lambert 2003, p. 69).

Nevertheless, the 3rd pers. pl. is attested as “-is” when used as object:

     avot-is – made them (RIG, B. Mees p.c. 2009)
     dessu-mi-is – I prepare them (Henry 1984, in Delamarre 2003, p. 141; B. Mees

This is divergent from the attested third person plural (fem.) “sies”. While there may be an unattested difference between the third persons plural masculine and feminin, since modern Gaulish no longer distinguishes between masculine and feminin in the third person plural, it is posited here that “-is” represents the generic third person plural.

In view of the above information, a position is proposed for modern Gaulish where the personal pronouns when used as object are the same as the subject pronounption of the third person plural, and with the addition of phonetic modifications to the third persons singular and plural when necessary. These are introduced to allow for clear phonetic distinction to be made between two words ending and starting on a vowel where such a distinction is deemed important, and only occur if the word preceding the object pronoun ends in a vowel. In these cases the third persons singular and plural are provided with a semantically empty particle “ch- “, a practice which is current in modern Breton (see MacAuley 1992).

Bearing the above in mind, the modern Gaulish personal pronouns when used as object present as follows:

     mi – me                   ni - us
     ti – you                    sú – you(s)
     é/ché – him             ís/chís - them
     í/chí - her

While in Classical Gaulish both the subject pronoun and the object pronoun were cliticised onto the verb, as shown in the example below, in modern Gaulish these have become detached. Revisiting the previously used example, the evolution sketched above can be illustrated:

     dessumiis > désa mi chís – I prepare them

Further examples are provided below:

     apísa mi chí – I see her
     apísa í mi – she sees me
     batha mi ché – I hit him
     batha é mi – he hits me

The need for the particle “ch- “ as a phonetic bridge is demonstrated below:

     apísa í chí – she sees her
     apísa é ché – he sees him
     apísa í chís – she sees them

instead of apísa í í, apísa é é and apísa í ís, which would be phonetically awkward.

However, when the preceding word does not end in a vowel, the phonetic bridge particle is not used as it is not required:

     apísa in gwir í – the man sees her

Unambiguous meaning is further conveyed by the strict VSO word order, which places the subject always before the object in a multiple pronoun phrase.

     e.g.: apísa mi ti – I see you
             apísa ti mi – you see me

     Personal pronouns and prepositions

An unusual feature of modern Celtic languages is the fusion of personal pronouns with prepositions, sometimes referre to as conjugated prepositions. It is a feature not frequently found among modern languages, although it was present in Latin. In the well known Classical Latin expression “vade mecum”, meaning “come with me”, the word “mecum” is a fusion of “me-“ (me) and “-cum” (with) (W. De Reuse, pers. com. 2011). Forms such as this are no longer found in modern Romance languages; they are, however, common, even ubiquituous, in modern Celtic languages. It seems reasonable to assume that such features are archaic grammatical forms no longer used in many modern languages.

In the attested Gaulish material, there is precisely one instance which can be identified as a conjugated/fused preposition. The lead tablet of Chamalieres (Delamarre 2003, p. 337), which is one of the most important continuous texts in Gaulish found to date, features at line 9-10:

     exsops pissíiumí i tsocanti rissuis onson

A reasonable translation of this would be:

     no-eye will–see-I-it/her with-this for-you (pl.) our ...

.....i.e.: blind I will see it with this for you our ...

In this line, the word “rissuis” appears to be quite certainly made up of the preposition “ris” (for, before) and the 2nd pers. pl. pronoun “suis”; as such, “rissuis” is to be taken to mean “for-you (pl)”.

This appears to be formed on exactly the same lines as comparative modern Insular Celtic fused prepositions, e.g. Welsh gennyf < *cantimi.

From this admittedly modest and humble example of a fused preposition, a system of fused prepositions is devised that is analoguous with those found in the modern Celtic languages. The preposition “ris” would, under the influence of phonetic erosion of the end of words (apocope), be shortened to “ri”. To this would be attached the various modernised forms of the prepositions discussed above. For the 2nd pers. pl. of the attested example, this would give:

     ris + suis > ri + sú = risú “for-you (pl)”

The forms for the other pronouns would look like this:

     ris + mi > ri + mi = rimi
          + ti > ri + ti = riti
          + es > ri + é = rié
          + i > ri + í = rií
          + ni > ri + ni = rini
          + is > ri + is > riis

Applying the insertion of the sematically empty phonetic particle “ch-“ as discussed above to the 3rd persons singular and plural would give:

     ri-é > riché
     ri-í > richí
     ri-ís > richís

A position is here adopted that holds that for the sake of clarity and unambiguousness, a process of metathesis and vowel differentiation applies to the remainder:

     rimi > ri-im > riem
     ri-ti > ri-it > riet > rieth
     ri-ni > ri-in > rien

The fusion of the preposition “ri” (for) with the personal pronouns would therefore be:

     riem: for me
     rieth: for you
     riché: for him
     richí: for her / it
     rien: for us
     risú: for you (pl.)
     richís: for them

In the above cases the two vowels “i” and “e” are pronounced separately, with emphasis on the latter, the word final syllable which receives the emphasis for all the fused prepositions:


Extending the above principles to the other preposition encountered at Line 10 of Chamalieres, “canti” (with), would give:

     canti + mi > cantimi > canthim

However, a position is adopted here that holds that the preposition *canti > *canth (with), when used independently from pronouns, was subject to apocope and phonetic erosion, and in analogy with other words on word final –nth dropped the final –th (see above under “treatment of –nt-“) for reasons of ease of pronunciation. This would reduce the preposition to “can”. It is postulated that in analogy with the shortening of “canth” to “can”, all fused forms of “canth” also dropped their (in those cases word medial) –th-.

The result would be the following:

     canim: with me
     canith: with you
     cané: with him
     caní: with her
     canin: with us
     cansú: with you (pl.)
     canís: with them

In analogy with the two examples illustrated above, it is postulated that modern Gaulish applies two models of fusing prepositions with pronouns:

1. prepositions on –i follow the first model: -em, -eth etc.

e.g. di (off) (Delamarre 2003, p. 143): diem, dieth, diché, dichí, dien, disú, dichís

2. prepositions on all other endings follow the second model:

e.g. gwó (under) (Delamarre 2003, p. 324): gwóim, gwóith, gwóé, gwóí, gwóin, gwósú, gwoís.

There a small number of prepositions which ended on stops in Classical Gaulish. Due to phonetic erosion, apocope and a desire for ease of pronunciation, these have lost their word final stops in independent usage. However, in their fusion with pronouns these are retained.

e.g. ad (to, towards) (Delamarre 2003, p. 31)
       > a in independent usage
       > adh- in fusion: adhim, adhith, adhé, adhí, adhin, adhú, adhís

e.g. ex (from, out of, Delamarre 2003, p. 169)
       > e in independent usage 
       > ech- in fusion: echim, echith, eché, echí, echin, echú, echís


The following prepositions are attested or can be extrapolated from the Classical Gaulish material. While some are clearly used in a prepositional way, others are only attested as preverbal particles or prefixes. However, it is posited here that as Gaulish would have become increasingly analytic in its grammatical construction, such prepositional preverbal particles as are attested would have evolved to fully fledged independent prepositions. Their counter parts are found in both the modern Celtic and Romance language families. The following table provides an overview of such prepositions and their derivations. All are found in Delamarre 2003, unless otherwise indicated.

5. The Verbal Paradigm
The verbal paradigm is an area of greyness and uncertainty in the study of Gaulish. While a considerable number of verbal forms are known and understood, no full conjugations are available in any tense, mood or aspect. Therefore, modern Gaulish proposes a verbal paradigm in which verbs are not conjugated, but are instead marked for number and person by way of personal pronouns. This is not unusual in the context of Celtic languages and in the broader framework of western and northern European languages. For instance, the Gaelic languages conjugate only two out of seven persons and number for regular verbs, their copula is uniform across all seven persons and numbers, all Brittonic languages have verbal constructions where al persons use the third person singular form, in the French language the conjugations of all but the first and second plural number are phonetically indistinguishable, western Germanic verbs often only have two or three forms, and continental Scandinavian languages only have one.
     Verb classes
Gaulish shows indications of having had several classes of verbs. Among these, thematic as well as athematic forms can be distinguished. Examples of some of these are:
     Thematic: uediiu-mi, liiu-mi, iegu-mi
     Athematic: peta-me, senant, dama, axat
Tentative, approximative historical paradigms for the present tense of the above could be drawn up as such for the verbs “uedi-“ (to pray) and “peta” (to ask):

It would seem that personal pronouns were used as clitics in combination with conjugation endings. It is posited here that with the evolution of apocope and phonetic erosion, these conjugation endings were eroded and lost, leaving a bare stem or verbal root, followed by personal pronouns to convey information regarding person, number and gender. In modern Gaulish, ten tenses are constructed using this verbal root and a number of pre-verbal particles and suffixes that are attested in the Gaulish material.
     Present tense
It is proposed here that through apocope and phonetic erosion verbal stems are left with a vestigial conjugation vowel, accompanied by a personal pronoun (itself reduced and eroded) to accord information about person and number. For reasons of practicality, unambiguousness and ease of pronunciation, it is suggested here that all verbal stems take the vowel –a of the erstwhile athematic ending in combination with the appropriate personal pronoun. Verbal stems ending on a vowel (i or é) therefore drop that vowel and add –a:
For instance, the verbal stem uedi- goes through the following evolution:
     uediiu > uedii- > guedi > gwédhi
The form “gwédhi” has thus become the new verbal stem for the verb “to pray”. This verbal stem is a verbal noun with specific and special properties, which will be discussed in detail below.
To mark the new verbal stem “gwédhi” for person and number in the present tense, the word final vowel –i is dropped, and replaced with –a:
     gwédhi > gwédha
This present tense form of the verb “gwédhi” is then endowed with the appropriate personal pronoun to convey information about person and number:
     gwédha mi: I pray
     gwédha ti: you pray
     gwédha é/í: he/she prays
     gwédha ni: we pray
     gwédha sú: you (pl.) pray
     gwédha sí: they pray
Exceptions to this model are mono syllabic verbs on a vowel, -í or other. Unlike all other verbal stems, these forms do not lose their word final vowel, but instead add the present tense marking word final vowel –a on after the vowel:
e.g.: bé: to cut
       > béa mi: I cut
        gní: to know
        > gnía mi: I know
Verbal stems ending in consonants simply add the vowel –a to the end of the word:
e.g.: gwel: to want
        gwéla mi: I want
e.g.: ápis: to see
       apísa mi: I see
The verb “ávó”, the only modern Gaulish verbal stem to end in –o, drops its word final –ó and replaces it with the present tense marker –a:
e.g.: ávó: to do, to make
        áva mi: I do, I make
There are some verbal stems that end in –a. These retain their final –a and remain unchanged throughout the present tense:
e.g.: cara: to love
        cara mi: I love
     Past tense
The past tense in modern Gaulish is constructed by way of the preverbal particle “ré” placed before the verbal stem. This particle is identified in “readdas”, “(has)placed” (Delamarre 2003, p. 255), and is asserted as having been used to construct the past tense by Eska (2008, p. 869). Similar use of this particle is known in the Insular Celtic languages (e.g. Old Irish, Cornish). There is no change to the end of the verbal stem: stems in i or é retain these. However, the initial consonant of the verbal stem changes in accordance to the systematic modification of word initial consonants known as Initial Consonant Mutation (ICM). This will be discussed in great detail further below.
e.g.: gwel: to want
        ré chwel mi: I wanted
e.g.: ápis mi: to see
        ré hápis mi: I saw
This construction is postulated on the basis of the attestation of preverbal particle “re” in Gaulish past tenses (e.g. readdas, Lambert 2003, p.66, Delamarre p. 255), which has been identified as giving a “perfective value” or “diverse modalities” to verbs (Delamarre 2003, p. 261). Furthermore, the use of re (> *ro) in the formation of past tenses is well attested in insular Celtic, not only in Old Irish (De Bernardo-Stempel n. d., Williams 1908), but also in Late Cornish (Norris 1859, p. 49, Williams 1908) and Old to Middle Welsh (Williams 1908). While “re” is most often, though not always, associated with the perfective tense in the other languages, it has been identified by Eska (2008, see above) as being used in Gaulish to construct the past tense. Therefore, modern Gaulish employs it as such.
An important corrollary of this past tense formation is that it illustrates quite clearly that ancient Gaulish used the process of re-analysis of a preposition as an aspect marker. The pre-verbal, past tense-marking particle “re” is derived from an inherited Indo European preposition *pre-, meaning “before” (Indo European *pre- > Proto Celtic *φre- > Celtic re-), well attested in other languages (e.g. Latin). As such the phrase “ré hápis mi”, “I saw”, is semantically derived from a prepositional phrase “before I see” > “I saw”. This fact is very important in the discussion about the formation of the progressive form, which will be discussed in detail in the appropriate section below.
     Future tense
The future is constructed by way of the suffix –sí, from attested *-si(o), which is identified as a marker for the future (Delamarre 2003, p. 251; Lambert 2003, p. 65). The emphasis is put on this marker: apisí mi.
e.g.: gwelsí mi: I will want
        ápisí mi: I will see
Verbal stems ending on vowels add the suffix –sí to the end vowel:
e.g.: rethi: to run
        rethisí mi: I will run
        ávó: to do / make
        ávósí mi: I will do / make
     Conditional tense
A conditional tense is formed by the combination of the two affixes discussed above: the preverbal particle “ré” and the suffix “-sí”:
e.g.: ré chwelsí mi: I would want
        ré hapisí mi: I would see
        ré rhethisí mi: I would run
        ré hávósí mi: I would do / make
     Present perfect
The present perfect formation of ancient Gaulish is reliably attested in a number of instances. The first of these involve the well known and discussed form “carnitu”, found in the funerary inscriptions of Todi:
       carnitu artuas Coisis Druticnos = has-built tomb Coisis Druticnos
                                                              > C. D. has built the tomb
       > carnitu- = has built
       (Delamarre 2003, p. 106; Lambert 2003, p. 75-77)
The form “carnitu” is universally accepted as being the present perfect form of a verb “carni-“, “to pile up stones” (Delamarre 2003, p. 106).
A further attestation of a present perfect form is found at Chateaubleau:
        iexstumisendi = iexstu-mi-sendi = have-cursed-I-this
                                                                > I have cursed this
        (Mees 2010, p. 105)
From the above examples it is possible to deduce that the present perfect verbal form in ancient Gaulish was constructed with the suffix “-tu”, followed by the subject of the phrase:
        carnitu C. D. = has built C. D.
        iexstu mi = have cursed I
A similar construction is found in the Irish verbal adjective on –te, -ta, –the, -tha, which is also attested in ancient Gaulish, e.g. “nantosuelta”. This is translated as “vallee ensoleilé”, “sunned valley” (Hansen 2012, Bhghros 2012 pers. com.), with the second component “suelta” literally meaning “ensoleillé”, i.e. .”sunned”, or, in English, “sunny”. See also “lubitias” and “caratos” (Delamarre 2003, p. 209, 107). Therefore, it is posited here that the present perfect form in modern Gaulish will be constructed with the verbal suffix “–thu”, followed by the subject of the phrase.
e.g.: carni: to build
        carníthu mi: I have built
        gar: to call:
        garthu mi: I have called
        gwelthu mi: I have wanted
        gní: to know
        gníthu mi: I have known
However, for verbal stems ending on –thi, -dhi or –s, this suffix is reduced to
-ú. Stems on –thi and –dhi drop their final vowels –i and instead affix –ú. Stems on –s affix –ú after the –s. In both cases, this perfective marker –ú receives the emphasis.
The reason for the use of emphasised –ú rather than regular –thu for stems on –thi and –dhi is that the addition of –thu would result in a word that is altogether too fricative for ease of pronunciation: rethíthu would be awkward to pronounce. Therefore a position is adopted here that holds that the two successive fricatives have assimilated to form just one: *rethíthu > *rethú; *gwedhíthu > *gwedhú.
In the case of verbal stem on –s, a perfect form with ending –sú would be the normal phonetic end-result of the suffixation of –s with (pre-sound change) –tu, giving *-stu, which, through regular Gaulish sound changes, would assimilate to –sú (-stu > -tsu > -ssu > -su). Therefore, stems on –s take the perfective marker –ú. The use of a perfective marker –u is attested in the forms “ieuru, iouru”, “has offered/ has dedicated” (Delamarre 2003, p. 188-89) and “tioinuoru”, “has produced” (Delamarre 2003, p. 297).
e.g.:rethi: to run
       rethú mi: I have run
       gwédhi: to pray
       gwedhú mi: I have prayed
       ápis: to see
       apisú mi: I have seen
       brís: to break
       brisú mi: I have broken
     Past perfect
The past perfect is constructed with the preverbal particle “ré” before the present perfect form:
e.g.: ré garníthu: I had built
        ré chwelthu: I had wanted
        ré rhethú mi: I had run
        re hapisú mi: I had seen
As with the past tense, the first consonant of the verbal stem undergoes mutation.
     Future perfect
For the future perfect the future marking suffix –sí is inserted between the verbal stem and the perfective marker –thu, which is the only one used, since the insertion of the future marker –si between the verbal stem and the perfect marker removes the phonetic issues that give rise to the use of –ú only in the present and past perfect:
e.g.: carnisíthu mi: I will have built
        gwelsíthu mi: I will have wanted
        rethisíthu mi: I will have run
        apisíthu mi: I will have seen
     Conditional perfect
For the conditional perfect, the preverbal preterising particle “ré” is placed before the future perfect form:
e.g.: ré garnisíthu mi: I would have built
        ré chwelsíthu mi: I would have wanted
        ré rhethisíthu mi: I would have run
        ré hapisíthu mi: I would have seen
The imperative form is well attested in ancient Gaulish (Delamarre 2003, p. 173, 209), and consists of the bare verbal stem, with imperative intonation:
e.g.: carni!: build!
        gar!: call!
        réthi!: run!
        ápis!: see!
     Verbal noun
In addition to not having any conjugations, Gaulish does not have an infinitive either. Instead it uses the bare stem of the verb, referred to as a “verbal noun”. The verbal noun in the Celtic languages is a word that can at the same time function as a verb and as a noun, and is an important component of the verbal paradigm. As a verb, it carries an infinitival meaning: “gar” means “to call”. However, as a noun “gar” also has the meaning of “the calling”.
e.g.: gar: to call / the calling
        ápis: to see / the seeing
        réthi: to run / the running
The verbal noun follows modal verbs directly:
e.g.: gwéla mi ápis: I want to see / I want seeing
        gwéla mi réthi: I want to run / I want running
     Direct object of a verbal noun
An important aspect of the fact that the verbal noun is a noun is the treatment of the direct object of a verbal noun:
e.g.: gwéla mi ápis ép: I want to see a horse (ép < epos “horse”, Delamarre 2003, p.163 - 64)
This is actually a genitival construction, of which more further below. Because genitive in modern Gaulish is expressed by apposition, the phrase “ápis ép” really means “the seeing of a horse”. Because the genitive in Gaulish is not marked in any way on a noun, this looks and translates exactly the same as “to see a horse”. However, when personal pronouns are the direct object of a verbal noun, this genitive is expressed explicitly. For this the genitive particle i- is used, derived from the attested forms “imon” and “imi”, both meaning “mine” (masculine and feminine respectively) (Delamarre 2003, p. 189-90). This particle is followed by fused forms of the personal pronouns:
e.g.: gwéla mi ápis ithí: I want the seeing of you = I want to see you
Without the use of the particle i-, the above phrase would be:
       gwéla mi ápis ti = I want the seeing you
This is not possible.
The particle i- is not otherwise used in many other contexts: it only occurs as the genitival marker for the personal pronouns as used as direct object of a verbal noun, and to indicate ownership of objects in conjunction with personal pronouns only. As such, it behaves like a preposition in the way it fuses with the pronouns:
     imí: of-me
     ithí: of-you
     iché: of-him
     ichí: of her
     iní: of-us
     isú: of-you (pl.)
     ichís: of them
The third person singular and plural forms are formed with the semantically empty particle –ch- for phonetic reasons, as in the fusion of prepositions with pronouns. See above.

     Summary of verbal paradigm
The following table provides an overview of the verbal paradigm in modern Gaulish. Examples are given for verbal stems on a consonant, on –thi and on –s. All verbal forms are marked for person and number by personal pronouns only; only the first person singular is given.
     The verb “to be”
The verb “to be”is the only irregular verb in the modern Gaulish language. Its formation is different from that of all other verbs.
The verbal noun may be derived from the attested Gaulish word “bissiet” (Delamarre 2003, p. 76). This can be analysed as containing the future marker –si, suffixed to what appears to be the verbal root “bis-”: bis+si (future marker)+ -et (3rd p.s. ending) (analysis by Lambert, discussed in Delamarre 2003, p. 76). The attested form has a double –ss- which does not appear to indicate a Tau Gallicum. A similar double –ss- is found in the attested form “pissiiumi” (Demarre 2003, p. 251). Since in the latter case the word “pissiiumi” is analysed as consisting of a future marker –si- suffixed to a verbal stem “pis-”, it is reasonable to extend this to “bissiet” and by analogy to deduce that “bis-“ represents the verbal stem or verbal noun.
The present tense is thought to be attested in the form “esi” (Delamarre 2003, p. 167). While “esi” is thought to be either a 2nd or a 3rd person singular, a position is proposed here where “esi” is the verbal stem that is used across the present tense, augmented with personal pronouns to mark for person and number, as is the case with all other verbs in modern Gaulish.
The past may be derived from the form “buetid”, (Delamarre 2003, p. 93-94). Comparisons with Welsh (Modern Welsh “bues i” = “I was”; Middle Welsh “bu” 3rd p. s., “was”) suggests that it is reasonable to accord a past value to this form. As such, the verbal stem to be used across the past tense will be “bú”.
The future form may be found in the attested forms “bissiet, bisiete” (Delamarre 2003, p. 76), as well as, possibly, in the form “biiete” (Delamarre 2003, p. 74-75). Again, comparison with Welsh (Modern Welsh “bydda i”: “I will be”; Middle Welsh “byd” 3rd p. s., “will be”) permits to posit that this form holds a future indicating connotation. As such, the verbal stem to be used across the future tense will be “bí”.
A conditional form is not attested, but may be constructed by analogy with the paradigm of all other Gaulish verbs. As such, the preceding of the future form “bí” by the preverbal particle “ré” will denote the conditional form: “ré ví”, with mutation of the first letter of the verbal form, as discussed previously.
An imperative is attested in Chamalieres as “sete”, from which a modern form “séthé”, “be!” can be derived (Mees 2010).
Finally, a perfect present may be attested in the form “biietutu” (Delamarre 2003, p. 75). While this is unsupported academically, a position is proposed here where the component “-etu-“ represents the perfect present form of to be: éthu mi = I have been.
The above form can further be analysed as a fusion of future stem “bi” + “etu”, which would, in analogy with the perfective tense formation of the other Gaulish verbs, therefore amount to the construction of the perfect future: “bietu-“, becoming “biéthu mi”, “I will have been”. Again, this is unsupported academically, but is plausible and can reasonably be argued in favour of.
An analogy with the above would then permit the construction of a perfect past with the past verbal stem “bu-“, fused with the perfective “etu-“. This would give “buéthu mi”, “I had been”. Once again, there is no academic support for this position, but it is plausible and can reasonably be argued in favour of.
Lastly, a perfect conditional would then, by analogy with the construction of other verbs in modern Gaulish, be able to be constructed by means of the preverbal particle “ré”, preceding the perfect future form. This would give “ré viéthu mi”, “I would have been”.
      Summary of “to be” paradigm
The paradigm of the verb “to be” can be summarised in the following table. All verbal stems are marked for person and number by personal pronouns, as with all other verbs. Only the first person is given here.
     The verb “to have”
Modern Gaulish, like all other modern Celtic languages, does not have a separate verb “to have”. Instead, as is the case in its related languages, it uses a construction with the verb “to be”. This construction is attested in the inscription of Banassac (Delamarre 2003, p. 167; Lambert 2003, p. 142): “tieđi ulano celicnu”, translated as “at-you-is the satisfaction of the banquet”, where “at-you-is” translates as “you have”.
The formation therefore of the expression “to have” in modern Gaulish consists of the appropriate personal pronoun, suffixed by the appropriate verbal stem of the verb “to be” (bis). The pronoun and the stem will be separated by a hyphen, and internal spirantisation will apply to the first consonant of the stem of “bis”.
e.g.: mi-esi: I have
        ti-esi: you have
        é-esi: he has
        í-esi: she has
        ni-esi: we have
        sú-esi: you have (pl.)
        sí-esi: they have
The various tenses are constructed by analogy:
        mi-vú: I had
        ti-ví: you will have
        é-rhé-ví: he would have
        í-éthu: she has had
        ni-vuéthu: we had had
        su-viéthu: we will have had
        si-rhé-viéthu: they would have had
Alone among the verbs of modern Gaulish, this verbal construction has neither a verbal noun, nor an imperative form. Intentional and imperative phrases can be constructed as a subordinate clause, using the relative pronoun “o”, seemingly attested in Chateaubleau (Mees 2010) and in Marcellus of Bordeaux (Delamarre 2003, p. 268):
        gwéla mi o mi-esi: I want that I have = I want to have
        gwéla mi o ti-esi = I want that you have =I want you to have
     Passive or impersonal forms
Ancient Gaulish had passive (or impersonal) verbal forms on –r, analoguous with Brittonic and Goidelic. Attested are “uelor” (one wants, is wanted; Delamarre 2003, p. 312), nitixsintor (p. 236) and diligentir (p. 144-45). It is widely agreed upon that the suffix –or marks the verbal form for the passive construction. Therefore, this suffix is adopted for that purpose. It occurs in concurrence with all other regular verbal particles and suffixes. However, while the perfective suffix –thu is added after the passive marker -or, the future marker –sí- is added after the verbal stem itself, and therefore before the passive marker. This is attested in the form “nitixsintor sies” (ni-tix-si-ntor + pers. pron. 3rd, Delamarre 2003, p. 236). The order of suffixes and particles is thus as follows:
     ré [verbal stem]+sí+or+thu + personal pronoun
An overview, using the verb “ápis”, “so see”, is provided below:
     apísor mi: I am seen (“one sees me”)
     ré hapísor mi: I was seen
     apisíor mi: I will be seen
     ré hapisíor mi: I would be seen
     apisorthu mi: I have been seen
     ré hapisorthu mi: I had been seen
     apisíorthu mi: I will have been seen
     ré hapisíorthu mi: I would have been seen
     apísor!: be seen!
An intentional passive phrase can be expressed by means of a subordinate clause:
     gwéla mi och apísor mi: I want that I am seen/ that one sees me > I want to be seen
In the above phrase, the particle “o” is the subordinating pronoun. It receives the semantically empty particle “-ch-“ before a vowel, as is the case with prepositions (see that section).
Parallel with the attested passive system on –or, it is also possible to achieve a passive construction by using the appropriate form of “bis” (to be) combined with the perfect present participle, exactly as in other Western European languages:
     esi mi apisú: I am seen
     bú mi apsiú: I was seen
     bí mi apisú: I will be seen
     ré ví mi apisú: I would be seen
     éthu mi apisú: I have been seen
     buéthu mi apisú: I had been seen
     biéthu mi apisú: I will have been seen
     ré viéthu mi apisú: I would have been seen
     séthé apisú!: be seen!
Both forms can be used at will. There are no semantic differences between them.
     Ablative absolute
In the important long running text of Late Gaulish known as the tablet of Chateaubleau the following verbal form is attested:
        anmanbe gniiou: the names which know
        sini siaxsiou: these which seek
        sue cluiou: you (pl.) who hear
(Mees 2010)
It appears that the verbal form with suffix –iou, used in the above context, refers back to a predicate subject in a way which has been interpreted by Mees (2010) as resembling a relativising or subordinate construction. The form appears to fulfill a function that is very similar to that fulfilled by a Latin ablative absolute (Bellovesos 2012, pers. com.). Furthermore, it bears a close resemblance to the suffixed relative pronoun –io well attested in Gaulish: the suffixed particle –iou appears to act in the same way as the attested particle –io.
A position is adopted by modern Gaulish where, due to regular evolution of the diphthong –ou [o:w] to –o [o:], the ablative absolute suffix –iou and the relativising pronoun –io have amalgamated in the modern suffixed particle –íó. As such, -íó functions as a verbal suffix to refer back to a predicate subject immediately preceding it, and can be used to construct subordinate clauses:
        apísa mi ép rethíó: I see a horse that/which runs
This will be further explored in the section on subordinate clauses, further below.
     Progressive form
A progressive verbal form expresses an action that is ongoing, happening right at the moment of discussion. Within the attested Gaulish material, there are two indications of how such a form might be constructed. While the interpretation of these attestations is not uniformly agreed upon, there is nevertheless a degree of consensus regarding their plausibility and historical acceptability (Bhrghros 2012, pers. com.) and their practicality of use in terms of clarity of expression (Bellovesos 2012, pers. com.) for the modern language.
One potential attestation of a progressive form in the attested ancient Gaulish material is the word “atenoux”, found on the Coligny calendar (see Lambert 2003, p. 111-18). While there is contention over the interpretation of this word, as there is over everything remotely connected with the Coligny calendar, Lejeune (1995, In Delamarre 2003, p. 58) proposes the following etymology:
     atenoux = ate-en-oux, “again-in-rising”
This was supported by Schmidt (1999, in Delamarre 2003, p. 58) and is considered plausible by Delamarre (2003, p. 58) and Bhrghros (2012, pers. com.).
A second potential attestation of a progressive form may be found in the etymology of the Gaulish names Enistalus (Delamarre 2003, p. 163) and Enissa (Gwinn 2012, pers. com.). These words have been linked to the widely accepted etymology for the insular Celtic word “inis”, meaning “island” (Finsen 2012, pers. com.; Wiktionary, etymology of “inis”):
     inis = *enisti (standing in [the water]/ in-standing), from eni- (in)+ *steh2
The above can be interpreted as “eni-sti” = “in-standing” (Strachan, in MacBain 1982, “innis”). This would provide a construction identical to “at-en-oux”. The preposition “eni-“, “in”, is attested in ancient Gaulish (Delamarre 2003, p. 163).
Based on these admittedly scant and contentious indications, a position is proposed here where modern Gaulish uses the preposition “en” to construct a progressive verbal form in conjunction with the verb “bis”, “to be”. Direct parallels are found in all Celtic languages, and in western Germanic. Because “en” is a preposition, it causes mutation on the first letter of the verbal noun following it. This will be discussed in greater detail in the section dealing with initial consonant mutation.
e.g.: esi mi en garni: I am building
        esi mi en ghar: I am calling
        esi mi en rhéthi: I am running
While the periphrastic construction thus achieved is not attested in the ancient Gaulish material, its inclusion in modern Gaulish may be deemed acceptable for two reasons. First, such forms are by no means unusual or exceptional in modern Western European languages (see Isaac 2007) and may as such be considered a development that may reasonably be expected to have occurred.
Second, and more importantly, the use of a preposition to form a verbal form requires a process of re-analysis of a preposition as a verbal aspect marker (Borsley, Tallerman & Willis, 2007). This process is attested precisely as such in ancient Gaulish, with the re-analysis of the ancient IE preposition *pre-, “before”, via Proto-Celtic *φre- to Gaulish re-, used as a pre-verbal particle to mark the past or preterite aspect of a verbal form. This shows that the process of re-analysis of a preposition as a verbal aspect marker was internal to the Gaulish language, as it manifestly is to its related languages, all of which have used the same process. As such it is perfectly reasonable to posit this process happening to construct a progressive verbal form in modern Gaulish.