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


18. Syntax
 
The interpretation of the syntax of the available ancient Gaulish texts is to a large extent a matter of speculation and debate, as they are often poorly understood and hotly debated. Nevertheless there are a number of features that can be observed and which can be used in the modern Gaulish language to construct sentences. These will be detailed below.
 
     Verbal noun clauses
 
Verbal nouns form one of the corner stones of modern Gaulish syntax. Unfortunately they are not well attested in ancient Gaulish, or, if attested, they are not well understood. According to Mees (2010) the text of Chateaubleau, which is the latest and most evolved example of continuous Gaulish writing available today, features several examples of verbal forms which can be thought of as verbal nouns. They are described by Mees (2010) as “deverbalised forms” or “deverbal constructions” and appear to be used throughout the Chateaubleau document in a uniform manner, regardless of their various morphologies and markings for number, aspect or tense (Mees 2010, p. 103). As such, they “display a clear tendency to appear after clitics either to negators or verbs” (Mees 2010, p. 103). This situation is refered to as a situation of “collapsing-cum-generalsing” of verbal nouns of various origins (Mees 2010, p. 103). Examples of such verbal noun forms and their usage are as follows:
 
        líu mi beni ueionna = I denounce a woman wishing
        anmanbe gniíou = names knowing
        sue resetesi iegiíinna  = may you fix her a cursing
        siaxsiou beíiassu né biti = seeking punishment let her not be
        cluiou se dagisamo cele = hearing this best companion
 
(from Mees 2010)
 
Of the above, the verbal nouns are:
 
       ueionna, gniíou, iegiíinna, siaxsiou, cluiou
 
These display a wide variety of suffixes and morphological features, including a future marker (-si- in siaxsiou) and – possibly – an adverbial marker –inna, among others (the interpretation of these suffixes is debatable).
 
A position is proposed here where the modern Gaulish language strips these various deverbalised verbal noun constructions of their various suffixes, leaving just the root or stem of the verb:
 
        uei = to wish
        gni = to know
        ieg- = to curse
        siag- = to seek
        clui = to hear
 
These forms will be considered the verbal noun form of modern Gaulish verbs: the bare, stripped back root, denuded of any suffixes. These are the forms used in the section on verbs (see further above). As such, these verbal nouns are the equivalent both of an English infinitive (clúi = to hear) and of an English gerund (clúi = the hearing). In keeping with Bernard Mees’ observation that the verbal nouns of Chateaubleau “display a clear tendency to appear after clitics either to negators or verbs” (Mees 2010, p. 103), these verbal nouns are placed immediately after the personal pronoun which is in clitic position to an absolute verb:
 
e.g.: gwél: to want
        mi: I
        ái: to go
        > gwéla mi ái: I want to go
 
        ápis: to see
        in épé: the horses
        > gwéla mi ápis in épé: I want to see the horses
 
Therefore, the first verbal noun used in a complex sentence always follows immediately after the absolute verb, without undergoing any changes to its structure. If the verbal noun used requires a preposition, as is the case with the verbal noun “go” (> go to), then this preposition will cause a mutation of the following word. If the following word is another verbal noun, then this will mutate like any other noun would:
 
e.g.: a: to
        ái: to go
        ápis: to see
        > gwéla mi ái a hápis in épé: I want to go to see the horses.
 
Since “a”, “to” is a preposition, the following word, the verbal noun, is marked by ICM.
 
It is important to bear in mind that the verbal noun is a deverbalised nominal construction, i.e. a noun, not a verbal form. “ápis” means “the seeing”. Therefore
 
        gwéla mi ápis: I want the seeing
 
Because a genetive relationship is expressed by apposition of two nouns, the phrase below is genetival:
 
        ápis in épé: the seeing of the horses
 
        > gwéla mi ápis in épé: I want the seeing of the horses
        > gwéla mi ái a hápis in épé: I want the going to the seeing of the horses
 
        clúi: to hear / hearing
        can: to sing / singing
        ethné: birds
        > gwéla mi clúi can in ethné: I want the hearing of the singing of the birds
                                                          > I want to hear the birds sing
 
Because the relationship between the verbal noun and the following object is genetival, if the object is a personal pronoun it must be used in conjunction with the genetival particle “i-“, used with personal pronouns only (see section on pronouns):
 
        ti: you
        i-: of
        > gwéla mi ápis ithí: I want the seeing of you
                                          > I want to see you
        > gwéla mi ái a hápis ithí: I want the going to the seeing of you
                                                   > I want to go to see you
 
     Adjectival clauses
 
Verbal noun phrases such as the above can be further specified by the addition of an adjectival clause, which complements a preceding object. This requires a specific object to be stated:
 
        gwéla mi ái a hápis in épé
        gwéla mi clúi can in ethné
 
In the above phrases, “épé” and “ethné” are objects. Adjectival clauses can be used to provide further information about the preceding objects of a main clause. To do this, a verbal noun is used.
 
Verbal nouns in adjectival relationships to preceding objects are attested in Chateaubleau at several reprises:
 
        ne-i anmanbe gniíou = not by the names knowing it
        iegumi sini, siaxsiou beiassu ne biti = I curse her, seeking punishment not let it be
        beiassu sete sue, cluiou se dagisamo cele = punishing may be you, hearing this best companion
 
(in Mees 2010)
 
In these examples, the adjectival verbal nouns are
 
        gniíou = knowing
        siaxsiou = seeking
        cluiou = hearing
 
From these attested forms it is possible to deduce that in ancient Gaulish a verbal form expressing an adjectival relationship with a preceding object was constructed by means of the suffix –iou. Following regular Gaulish sound changes, this suffix would become –ió (-ou > -o:).
 
A comparison with the attested Gaulish relativising particle –io is immediate. This particle is attested in several instances:
 
        gobedbi dugiiontiio ucuetin = the smiths who honour (or fashion/shape) Ucuetis
        (Alise-Sainte-Reine, Delamarre 2003, p. 153-54)
        secoui toncnaman tonsiíontío = the victors who swear an oath/who destin a destiny
        (Chamalieres, Delamarre 2003, p. 298)
        scrisumio uelor = that I spit is wanted
        (Marcellus of Bordeaux, Delamarre 2003, p. 268)
 
The resemblance between the relativising particle “–io” and the adjectival verbal suffix
“–iou” may be coincidental. Nevertheless, they appear to perform very closely related functions. As such, it is posited here that in modern Gaulish the two have collapsed into one particle “-íó” through assimilation, and are used only in adjectival phrases with verbal nouns refering back to an immediately preceding object.
 
e.g.: rethi: to run
        gwer: on
        in: the
        tráith: beach (< traxta)
        > gwéla mi ái a hápis in épé rethíó gwer in dráith: I want to go to see the horses that run on the beach
 
        in ven: the woman
        can: to sing
        in dech: beautifully
        lavar: to speak
        > lavára mi can in ven caníó in dech: I speak with the woman who sings beautifully
 
In both the above examples, the suffix –íó is used with a verbal noun that immediately follows the noun that the adjectival clause provides information about. Essentially, the suffix “-íó” provides a “dummy subject” for the verbal form, referring back to the preceding object:
 
        lavára mi can in ven caníó in dech
 
translates as:
 
        speak I with the woman sing-that in beautiful
 
As such, the relative particle “-íó” is in subject position following the verbal noun.
 
However, these adverbial clauses can be constructed in a more analytic and modern way using the progressive verbal form, using the preposition “en”:
 
        gwéla mi ái a hápis in épé en rhethi gwer in dráith
        > I want to go to see the horses running on the beach
 
        > lavára mi can in ven en gan in dech: I speak with the woman singing beautifully
 
In both the above examples, the preposition “en” is used with a verbal noun that immediately follows the noun that the adjectival clause provides information about. Essentially, the prepositonal progressive form provides an verbal-adjectival phrase, qualifying the subject of the main clause:
 
        lavára mi can in ven en gan in dech
 
translates as:
 
        speak I with the woman in singing in beautiful
 
 
     Subordinate clauses
 
Subordinate clauses that have a separate subject embedded within them do not use the suffix –íó discussed above, as the subject in a modern Gaulish phrase always follows the verb. An adjectival verbal noun can not refer to a subject that follows after it. The following phrase
 
         I speak with the woman whose daughter sings beautifully
 
can NOT be constructed as follows:
 
        ó dúithir: her daughter
        > lavára mi can in ven caníó ó dúithir in dech
 
This can NOT convey the meaning “I speak with the woman whose daughter sings beautifully”. As the particle “–íó” effectively provides a “dummy subject” refering back to the previously stated noun, the phrase above would have two subjects, which can not be.
 
To construct the above phrase a separate particle introducing a subordinate clause with embedded subject is required. In the ancient Gaulish text of Chateaubleau it is possible to identify a particle that appears to fulfill this function:
 
        iexsetesi    sue  regeniatu o    quprinno = may you curse the family that is purchasing
        may-curse you family    that  purchases / is purchasing
 
(in Mees 2010, p. 101)
 
It appears that the particle “o” fulfills a subordinating function in this phrase. Therefore, it is posited here that the modern Gaulish language will use this particle “o” as a single, all-purpose, non-referential relativising subordinating particle. The use of non- referential relative and subordinating particles is uniform across the modern Celtic languages (Isaac 2007).
 
e.g.: lavára mi can in ven o cána ó dúithir in dech
        “I speak with the woman that sings her daughter beautifully”
        i.e. I speak with the woman whose daughter sings beautifully
 
Since a subject is embedded in the subordinate clause, the main verb is in absolute form, not in verbal noun form:
 
        can: to sing
        cána ó dúithir: her daughter sings
 
The relativising particle “o” is augmented by the semantically empty phonetic clitic“-ch“ if the following word starts with a vowel, for ease of pronunciation, as is the case in Modern Breton.
 
        gal: to be able to
        ápis: to see
        dái: good
        > gala mi ápis och esi í dái: I can see that it is good
 
Using the above particles complex compound sentences can be constructed:

        petha: to ask
        adhim: to-me
        ma: if
        gwel: to want
        ré chwelsí mi: would want I
        suling: dance (su “good” + ling “jump” > good-jumping > dance)
        techi: to leave
        ré dechi: left
        ó: her
        caran’wir: her boyfriend (caran “friend” + wir “man/male” suffix)
        geneth: girl
        al: other
 
        > lavára mi can in ven o ré betha adhim ma rhé chwelsí mi suling can ó dúithir o ré
           dechi ó caran’wir can gheneth hal
 
        I speak with the woman who asked to-me if I would want to dance with her daughter whose boyfriend left with another girl
 
The example used in the section on adverbial clauses can also be expressed using the relativising particle “o”:
 
        lavára mi can in ven o cana in dech: I speak with the woman who sings beautifully
 
     Conjunction clauses
 
The above example shows that subordinate clauses can also be headed by conjunctions, such as:
 
“ma”, “if”:
 
        petha in ven adhim ma chwéla mi suling can ó dúithir:
        the woman asks to-me if I want to dance with her daughter
 
“gwé”, “or”:
 
        a chwéla ti suling gwé né a chwéla ti?: do you want to dance or don’t you?
 
“ach”, “and”:
 
        gni: to know
        gwéla í suling canim ach né ghnía mi ma chwéla mi: she wants to dance with me
                                                                                              and I don’t know if I want to
 
“éithr”, “but”:
 
        gwéla í suling canim éithr gwéla mi ívi curu: she wants to dance with me but I want to drink beer
 
Any other conjunctions can be used in a similar fashion.
 
 
     Question word clauses
 
Question words and their attendant interrogative particles can be used to head subordinate clauses in a way similar to that described above:
 
        pi: who
        esi: is
        > né ghnía mi pí a hesi ó dúithir: I don’t know who her daughter is
 
        pé: what
        ór: hour
        í: it
        > a ghnía ti pé hór a hesi í?: do you know what time it is?
                                                     (“do you know what hour it is”)
 
       pémái: where
       > né ghnía mi pémái a hesi ó dúithir: I don’t know where her daughter is
 
        podh / pé gaman: how
        > né ghnía mi podh / pé gaman a hesi í: I don’t know how she is
 
        ponch: when
        techi: to leave                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        > né ghnía mi ponch a rhé dechi í: I don’t know when she left
 
        pérí: why
        > né ghnía mi pérí a chwéla í suling canim: I don’t know why she wants to dance with me
 
        pethi: how much / many
        pané: glasses
        u: of
        curu: beer
        > né ghnía mi pethi bané u guru a hivíthu í: I don’t know how many glasses of beer she has drunken