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








Links:

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

www.facebook.com/groups/moderngaulishlanguage/

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

www.glosbe.com/mis_gal/en/

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

https://moderngaulishlessons.wordpress.com

4. A memrise course:

http://www.memrise.com/course/802166/modern-gaulish-1/

5. a) A collection of translations of poetry and prose in modern and in old Gaulish:

https://www.amazon.com/Anthologia-Gallica-Senobrixta-Galáthach-hAthevíu-Poetry/dp/1511644265

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

https://www.amazon.com/CnusVl%C3%A1thu-Gal%C3%A1thach-Modern-Gaulish-Anthology/dp/1546815945

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQZGNIA8g2o&list=PLhTUHvgCLoUAEmRsQ9imUkR0JdoxWkq6K&index=1

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

https://independent.academia.edu/ModernGaulish


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

http://asterixinmoderngaulish.myfreesites.com

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

http://mangainmoderngaulish.myfreesites.com


11. Indication of possession
 
     Genetive of apposition
 
In ancient Gaulish, genetive was indicated by word endings. Exceptionally clear and unambiguous examples of this are found in the long running text of Larzac (Delamarre 2003, p. 338-39; p. 344):
 
        Adiega matir Aiias = Adiega mother of Aia
        Aia duxtir Adiegias = Aia daughter of Adiega
 
In the above example, the genetive relationship is expressed by the word ending –ias. If we apply the postulated loss of case endings, which is a well attested, well agreed upon and important factor in the formation of the modern Gaulish language, to these two phrases, we are left with the following:
 
        Adiega matir Aia
        Aia duxtir Adiega
 
These translate as follows:
 
        Adiega mother Aia
        Aia daughter Adiega
 
It is posited here that the main genetive formation of modern Gaulish is derived from these constructions: the left-overs after case endings disappeared. With the loss of the case endings, the only thing that is left to define the genetival relationship formerly specified by word endings is the word order. Therefore “A mother B” means “A mother of B”. This is known as genetive of apposition: two nouns are put next to each other, and the first belongs to the second. This principle is applied throughout the modern Gaulish language to indicate possession of one thing by another:
 
        ép Belo: horse of Belo > Belo’s horse
        téi Gwina: house of Gwina > Gwina’s house
        cun Garghan: dog of Garghan > Garghan’s dog
 
In the example above, a noun is followed by a name, which therefore owns that noun.
 
The same principle can be applied to two nouns:
 
        coch ép: leg of a horse
        pen gwir: head of a man
        brun ben: breast of a woman
 
The principle of genetive of apposition means that when a noun is followed by another noun, the first noun is owned by or belongs to the second noun.
 
This principle can be extended to include the article “in”. Instead of using a non-specific entity (a horse), we can use a specified entity: the horse.
 
        coch: leg
        in ép: the horse
        coch in ép: leg of the horse
 
The above phrase means “the leg of the horse”. To express the notion “a leg of the horse”, the indefinite can be described as being “one leg”:
 
        on coch in ép: a/one leg of the horse
 
If the possessor is indefinite, this becomes:
 
        on coch ép: a/one leg of a horse
 
or simply:
 
         coch ép: a leg of a horse
 
For strings of more than one item that is possessed, only the article of the possessor is used, all other ones are omitted:
 
e.g.: líu: colour
        in líu: the colour
        bar: top
        in var: the top
        coch: leg
        in coch: the leg
        ép: horse
        in ép: the horse
 
To translate the phrase “the colour of the top of the leg of the horse” all the articles except the last one are dropped:
 
        líu bar coch in ép: the colour of the top of the leg of the horse
                                      “the horse’s leg top colour”
 
     Possessive pronouns
 
Possession can be expressed directly by use of possessive pronouns. Of these, a number can be identified in the attested material:
 
        1st pers. sing.: in mon derco = in my eye
                               (Marcellus of Bordeaux, in Delamarre 2003, p. 139)
                               moni gnatha, gabi buddutton imon = my girl, take my cock
                               (spindle whorl Saint-Révérien, Delamarre 2003, p. 228-29)
                               mon gnat ixs = my son my-own
                               (Chateaubleau L-90, Delamarre 2003, p. 181
         2nd pers. sing.: mentobeto to diuo = remember your god
                                 (Life of Saint Symforien, in Delamarre 2003, p. 181)
                                 cara uimpi, to caranto = dear beautiful, your friend
                                 (spindle whorl Amiens, in Stifter 2009)
        1st pers. pl.: onson = our
                            (Chamalieres, Lambert 2003, p. 160)
 
This can be summarised as follows:
 
        mon, moni = my, mine
        to = your
        onson = our
 
The other forms are not attested. The form “onson” is debated and doubtful, and its translation as the 1st pers. pl. possessive is unsure. This therefore leaves “mon/moni” and “to”. It is posited here that these forms have been taken as the example for the entire paradigm of possessive pronouns in modern Gaulish. By analogy with “to” and conforming to the general loss of word final letters all forms end in “o”. All of the possessive pronouns cause mutation on the first letter of the following word, except the 3rd pers. sing. fem., where the lack of following mutation is the feature that distinguishes the form from the 3rd. pers. sing. masc., which is otherwise identical, and the 2nd pers. pl. which is distinguished from the 3rd pers. pl. in the same way:
 
        mó: my
        tó: your
        ó: his, with mutation
        ó: her, without mutation
        nó: our
        só: your (pl.), without mutation
        só: their, with mutation
 
e.g.: cun: a dog
        mó gun: my dog
        ó gun: his dog
        ó cun: her dog
        nó gun: our dog
        só cun: your (pl) dog
        só gun: their dog
 
     Genetive particle i-
 
A genetive particle i- can be observed in the Saint-Révérien spindle whorl inscription mentioned above:
 
        moni gnatha, gabi buddutton imon
 
This can be translated, litterally, as “my girl, take cock mine/of-me”
 
This same particle is also in evidence in the spindle whorl inscription of Sens (Lambert 2003, p. 126; Delamarre 2003, p. 189-90):
 
        geneta imi daga uimpi = girl mine/of-me good beautiful
 
and possibly in the inscription of Rom (Delamarre 2003, p. 189, 341)
 
        derti imon = my skin, i.e. my girl
 
It seems that “imon” refers to a male object (“buddutton”, “penis”), and “imi” to a female object (“geneta”, “girl”). It is therefore possible to tentatively identify an element i- which appears to have been employed in ancient Gaulish to construct a post-posed genetive pronoun. It is posited here that possessive pronouns are no longer post-posed, but instead that the possessive particle i- is used in fusion with pronouns. These are used to indicate the object of a verbal noun, as well as to indicate ownership of objects in conjunction with personal pronouns only:
 
        imí: of-me
        ithí: of-you
        iché: of-him - etc.
 
See section on “Direct object of verbal noun”, p. 43, for full list.
 
         esi mi en hápis ithí: I am seeing you (“I am in the seeing of-you”)
         esi mi en ghar isú: I am calling you (pl) (“I am in the calling of-you (pl.)”)
 
        esi sin cun: this is a dog
        esi é imí: he/it is mine (i.e. the dog)
 
      Particle of quantity u-
 
A particle indicating the dealing with a quantity of something is attested in the inscription of Limé (Delamarre 2003, p. 187):
 
        ibetis/ uciu/ andecari/ biiete = drink (2nd. pl.)/ of-this/ very-loveable/ you-will-be
 
In this phrase it is possible to identify the particle (or preposition) “u-“, “of”, in conjunction with what may be the adverb “this” in dative or instrumental case (-ciu, cf. ci- in ciallos, Delamarre 2003, p. 116).
 
        u+ci+u= of+this+dative/instrum. ending
 
The modern version of the above form would be “uchí”, “of-this”.
 
It is proposed here that, considering the context of this inscription, the particle u- is used only in association with a quantity of something, not in association with possession or ownership. It causes mutation of the first letter of the following word:
 
        pan: glass
        gwín: wine
        pan u chwín: a glass of wine
        lithr: litre
        curu: beer
        lithr u guru: a litre of beer

 
12. Questions
 
     Question words
 
Question words are not well attested in Gaulish. However, from what is attested it is possible to deduce clues which can be used to construct a question word paradigm. The least controversial is:
 
        ponc = when (Delamarre 2003, p. 252)
 
This is straightforward, and regularly becomes “ponch” in modern Gaulish.
 
Further indications may be derived from the following :
 
        peti VX riuri = ? (Coligny, Delamarre 2003, p. 249)
        peti sagitiontias = save those who seek? how much they seek? (Larzac, id.)
        petidsiont sies = they will save ? (Larzac, id.)
 
While interpretations vary and there is no agreement on the exact meaning of these phrases, Delamarre (2003, p. 249) nevertheless identifies the component “peti-“as meaning “how much”. This is an important assertion, especially in combination with the following analysis:
 
        eti = the adverb “more” (Delamarre 2003, p. 167-68)
 
Therefore:
 
        peti = how much
        eti = more
 
In light of the analysis of “eti” as more, it is possible to analyse “peti” as being a combination of the adverb “eti” with a hypothetical question word starting with “p-“, which is the regular Gaulish reflex of inherited Indo European “kw-“, ubiquitous in the formation of qustion words throughout the spectrum of the Indo European languages (Latin “quot, quom” etc, ”Spanish/French “que” etc., Irish “cé”, Welsh “pa”):
 
        peti > *p-+eti
 
If word internal assimilation of vowels is assumed, it is possible to postulate a form:
 
        peti < *pe+eti = “what-more”, i.e. “how much”
 
The above hypothetical analysis would indicate that the Gaulish word for “what” may have been “pe”. Comparison with the other Celtic languages offers support for this theory:
 
        Welsh: pa
        Irish: cé
 
Using this question word “pe”, “what”, rendered in modern Gaulish as “pé”, it is possible to construct the following forms:
 
        mái: place (< magos, Delamarre 2003., p. 214)
        pé+mái > pémái: where (what place)
 
        ri: for
        pé+ri > péri: why (what for)
 
The word for “who” may be arrived at by analogy, by comparison with neighbouring related and IE languages:
 
     Welsh: pwy, Cornish pyu/piu, Breton piv, French qui, Latin quis, proto Celtic
     kwei-jo
 
From the above forms it may be concluded that a form containing the vocalism [i] may be deemed appropriate; as such, it is posited here that:
 
     pi: who
 
Lastly, a suitable word for “how” may be derived from the Proto Celtic root *pod- (< IE kwod-, Bhrgros 2012 pers. com.):
 
     *pod- > podh: how
 
Alternatively, the concept of “how” can be expressed idiomatically, using attested terms:
 
.....pé gaman: “what road” > which way > how
 
The above attestations, constructions and derivations provide a full question word paradigm, which may be summarised as follows:
 
pé: what
péri: why
péthi: how much
pémái: where
ponch: when
podh / pé gaman: how
pi: who
 
     Question word compounds
 
The above question words can be used in conjunction with other words to ask specific questions. If this is the case, the words directly following question words undergo a mutation of their first letter.
 
e.g.: cun: dog
        pé: what/which
        pé gun a hesi é: what dog is it?
 
        ór: hour
        pé: what/which
        pé hór a hesi í: what time is it
 
The question word “péthi”, “how many”, inquires about a number of something. Therefore, as with numbers, nouns following “péthi” are in the singular form:
 
e.g.: bledhn: year
        bledhné: years
        pethi vledhn: how many years
 
     Question formulation
 
All the surviving Celtic languages currently use or have at a previous stage of their development and evolution used interrogative particles to introduce and mark questions. While there is no attestation of any such particles in the ancient Gaulish material, it is nevertheless posited here that they be included in modern Gaulish, on the basis that it is useful and practical to have unambiguous indication of the interrogative mode. Such indication by particles or phrases is not uncommon cross-linguistically, to wit the French phrase “est-ce que ...”.
 
A certain variety of particles and phrases is attested in the surviving languages (W. a, ai, oni, onid, Corn. a, Br. ha(g), daoust ha(g), Ir. an, Sc. Gael. am). It is proposed here that a single particle “a” be used in the modern Gaulish language. This particle causes a mutation of the first letter of the word following it. The particle introduces questions without question words, and immediately follows question words when these are used:
 
e.g.: gwéla mi ái: I want to go
        a chwéla ti ái: do you want to go?
 
        gwéla mi ávo peth nep: I want to do something
        pé a chwéla ti ávó: what do you want to do?
 
This particle is also used in indirect, embedded questions:
 
e.g.: gní: to know
       a ghnía ti pé a chwéla ti ávó: do you know what you want to do?
 
 
13. Negation
 
     Declarative negation
 
Negation is abundantly attested in the ancient Gaulish material; examples can be found in Lezoux (ne regu; ne dama; ne curri; ne papu; ne tetu), Larzac (ni tixsintor; ne lissatim; ne liciatim; ne rodatim) and Thiaucourt (ni exuertinin) (in Delamarre 2003, p. 233). It appears to be clear that negation in ancient Gaulish was formed by placing the negating particle “ne” immediately before a verb (ne dama = don’t suffer/yield, Delamarre 2003, p. 135).
 
Following the attested pattern discussed above, modern Gaulish constructs its negation by placing a negating particle “né” immediately before a verb, causing mutation of its first letter:
 
e.g.: gwéla mi ái: I want to go
        né chwéla mi ái: I don’t want to go
 
        apísa mi: I see
        né hapísa mi: I don’t see
 
     Interrogative negation
 
In interrogative negation the negating particle “né” takes first position in the sentence, preceding the interrogative particle, which does not get mutated itself but which does cause mutation on the word it is followed by:
 
e.g.: né chwéla mi ái: I don’t want to go
        né a chwéla ti ái: don’t you want to go?
 
        né hapísa mi: I don’t see
        né a hapísa ti: don’t you see?
 
     Replies to questions
 
In analogy with common practice in modern Celtic languages, questions are answered by repeating the main statement either affirmatively or negatively, as the case may be. There is no indication of words for “yes” or “no” being used in ancient Gaulish, so therefore modern Gaulish follows modern Celtic practice as described above, and does not have words for “yes” or “no”:
 
        Q.: a chwéla ti ái: do you want to go?
        A.: gwéla mi: “I want”
 
        Q.: né a hapísa ti ép: don’t you see a horse?
        A.: né hapísa mi: I don’t see