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:

15. Word Order
A variety of word orders is attested in ancient Gaulish, due, it is commonly thought, to the flexibility afforded to sentence structure by the grammatical case endings lending meaning to words regardless of sentence position (Lambert 2003, p. 70-72):
e.g.: 1). Licnos Contextos            ieuru        Anualonnacu    caneco       sedlon
              L. C.                       has dedicated   to A.                the golden    seat
                 Subject                      Verb                Object
        2). billicotas     rebellias        tioinuoru          Siluanos
             billicotas  very beautiful   has produced    S.
                Object                               Verb          Subject
        3). sioxti    Albanos   panna     extra        tuss        ccc
             added     A.           vessels    beyond    batch      300
              Verb      Subject    Object
        4). ratin      Briuatiom             Frontu Tarbetisconios   ieuru
             the fort  of the Briuates     F.         T.                       has dedicated
             Object                                 Subject                           Verb
        5). Bratronos Nantonticnos Epađatextorici leucutio     suiroebe           logitoi
              B.             N.                  for E.               the place  with the sisters  has established
                Subject                            Object                                                      Verb
(examples from Delamarre 2003, p. 331-34)
The above examples illustrate the wide variety of word orders that is attested in the ancient Gaulish epigraphy: SVO, OVS, VSO, OSV, SOV. However, most of these examples draw on short inscriptions, mostly of a dedicatory nature. Turning to the long continuous texts, it is possible to discern the following:
        andedion,       uediíu-mi    diíiuion
        Nether-ones,    pray-I         of-the-gods ... (Chamalieres, Delamarre 2003, p. 337))
        [address]          V.     S.         O
        buetid    ollon           reguccambion
        may-be  everything  bone-deformation (id.) (? uncertain)
         V            S                O        
        exops  pissíiu-mi   soccanti
        blind    will-see-I  this-with-it (id.)
                      V         S   O                 
        bissíet                      luge
        it/you-(pl)-will-be   by-the-oath (id.)
           V                             O
        dessu-mi-íis          luge
        prepare-I-them     by-the-oath (id.)
          V        S   O      
        Nemna       líu-mi           beni
        [address] denounce-I    a-woman (Chateaubleau, Mees 2010)
                           V           S      O
        iegu-mi  sini
        curse-I    her (it/this) (id.)
         V      S   O
        iexstu-mi           sendi (id.)
        have-cursed-I     this
                V          S     O
        nitixsintor                       sies    duscelinatia (Larzac)
        not-will-be-bewitched   they    by-bad-omen
                      V                        S          O
       biontutu     se     mnanom (Larzac, Delamarre 2003, p. 338-39)
       may-hit   these   women 
           V                S    
        biontutu   indas   mnas (id.)
        may-hit    these   women
            V                 S
        petidsiont   sies     peti              sagitiontias (id.)
        will save    they    how much    the-seeking-ones
            V             S          O?              (S?)
        se     rinoti    Secundo dinarilu           XXXV (Rèze, Stifter 2012)
        this    sells      S.            for-dinars       35
         O        V        S            
        se         tigi       prino   Ascanius  are  boletu XV (id.)
        this   contract   buys     A.            for      ?      15
                 O               V         S
These extracts from the most important continuous texts from the ancient Gaulish corpus show clearly that the Gaulish language frequently used constructions where the verb was followed by the subject, often in turn followed by the object (VSO word order). While there is variation on the theme, and while various translations continue to be fought over bitterly without consensus, there is no doubt that a word order placing the subject after the verb was in common usage. Furthermore, the Chateaubleau text, which is the most evolved Late Gaulish text available to date, is virtually exclusively VSO (see Mees 2010 for the parsing and translation).
The above observation is supported by Isaac (2007), who asserted that Gaulish had developed a tendency towards VSO word order by the 1st cent. BCE (Isaac 2007). The examples clearly show that verbal forms are followed either by a cliticised subject pronoun, apparently in accordance with Wackernagel’s Law and Vendryes’s Restriction, or, when pronouns are not used, by what is clearly recognisable as a subject (e.g. Rèze, Larzac).
In light of the observations made above, it is deemed reasonable to posit VSO word order as the predominant and default word order for the modern Gaulish language. This is furthermore in analogy with the situation in the modern Celtic languages, where VSO is the standard word order (notwithstanding apparent variations in e.g. Breton, Cornish and Middle Welsh; whilst presenting as SVO, these are historically derived from VSO forms; see e.g. Press 1986).
e.g.: apísa mi téi: see I house
                             > I see a house
          V     S   O
        prina mi ép: buy I horse >
                             I buy a horse
           V    S   O
        gára mi mó gun: call I my dog >
                                    I call my dog
         V     S     O
16. Demonstratives
Demonstratives are well attested in ancient Gaulish under a variety of forms:
        se, sinde, inda, sini, sendi, sondios, so, sosin, sosio
        se: se mnanom, se bnanom (4 x at Larzac, Delamarre 2003, p. 338-39)
             se rinoti (Reze, Stifter 2012)
             se tigi prino (Reze, Stifter 2012)
             se tingi (Chateaubleau, Mees 2010)
             se dagisamo cele (Chateaubleau, Mees 2010)
        so: so adsagsona (Larzac, Delamarre 2003, p. 338-39)
              so adgarie (2 x Chartres, Stifter 2012)
              so cantigarie (Chartres, Stifter 2012)
       sinde: insinde (Larzac, Delamarre 2003, p. 338)
                  sindiu (“today”, Coligny, Delamarre 2003, p. 274)
                  > indas mnas (Larzac, Delamarre 2003, p. 338)
                 iegumi sini (2 x Chateaubleau, Mees 2010)
        sendi: iexstumi sendi (2 x Chateaubleau, Mees 2010)
        sondios: sondios adgario (Chartres, Stifter 2012)
        sosin: sosin celicnon (Vaison, Delamarre 2003, p. 279)
                  sosin celicnon (Alise-Sainte-Reine, Delamarre 2003, p. 279)
        sosio: sosio legasit (Seraucourt, Delamarre 2003, p. 279)
Of these, it is likely that “sinde, sendi, sondi” are variations on the same theme “sinde”. Likewise, “sosin” seems to be a combination of “so” with a variant of “sinde”, and “sosio” a variation of “so”. The form “so” is also associated with the 3rd pers. pl. (see Delamarre 2003, p. 279), and in modern Gaulish is reanalysed as the possessive pronoun for the 2nd and 3rd pers. plural. This makes its use as a demonstrative impractical. That leaves the forms “se” and “sinde” to be used as demonstratives.
It is posited here that the form “sinde” regularly becomes the form “sin” in modern Gaulish, after regular loss of final “–de”. That leaves the forms “se” and “sin” to be used as demonstratives.
The attested form “sindiu” from Coligny (Lambert 2003, p. 112; Delamarre 2003, 274) is widely agreed upon as meaning “this-day” < sinde-diu (Delamarre 2003, p. 274). This permits the deduction that the form “sinde” means “this”. Therefore it is proposed here that the remaining form “se” be interpreted as “that”, permitting the construction of a demonstrative paradigm for modern Gaulish.
In the attested material, the demonstrative is placed before the noun:
e.g.: se mnanom = those women-GEN
        se tigi prino Ascanius = A. bought that contract
        se dagisamo cele = that best companion
All modern Celtic languages have evolved to move the demonstrative after the noun, in combination with the definite article before the noun. Bearing in mind that word order of those languages is default VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) and that this word order is instrumental in conveying grammatical meaning to phrase components, it is easy to see why this happened. It is not only an expression of the tendency of the Celtic languages to have heads precede qualifiers, and to be strongly right –branching, but it is also necessary to be able to convey precise semantic meaning. It has been established that ancient Gaulish was evolving a VSO word order, and that modern Gaulish adopts VSO as its default word order (see section on word order). This means that, if the demonstratives were pre-posed, as in ancient Gaulish, the following phrases would be ambiguous:
        esi sin téi gwin: is this a house white > this is a white house
        esi sin téi gwin: is this house white > this house is white
If the demonstrative precedes the noun it refers to, it is not possible to discern whether the exact meaning of this phrase is “this house is white” or “this is a white house”. However, if the demonstrative is post-posed and combined with a pre-posed article, the meaning becomes unambiguous and clear:
        esi in téi-sin gwin: is the-house-this white > this house is white
        esi sin téi gwin: is this a-house white > this is a white house
Therefore, it is posited here that in modern Gaulish the demonstratives “sin” and “sé”, meaning “this” and “that”, follow the noun they refer to, in combination with the article preceding the noun; they are further cliticised onto the noun by means of a hyphen. This construction is refered to as “bifurcated demonstratives”, and it is a feature that is characteristic of the Celtic language family. These demonstratives are not marked for gender or number.
        in téi-sin: this house (m)
        in ép-sé: that horse (m)
        in lham-sin: this hand (f)
        in ghrá-sé: that sand (f)
Any adjectives refering to the noun being specified will follow the noun and will precede the demonstrative; in this case, the hyphen is dropped:
        gwin: white
        tech: beautiful
        in ép gwin tech sé: that beautiful white horse
17. Locatives
It is posited here that the demonstratives discussed above also serve to construct the locatives, in conjunction with the article. All the surviving Celtic languages construct locatives in this fashion:
        Ir.: an: the
              sinn: that
              seo: this
              ansinn = an + sinn: there
              anseo = an + seo: here
        W.: y: the
               ma: this
               na: that
               yma = y + ma: here
               yna = y + na: there
        Br.: an, ar: the
               ma: this
               se: that
               ama = *an + ma: here
               aze = *an + se: there
While a locative is not clearly attested in the ancient Gaulish material, the inscription of Larzac features the form “insinde”, the very opening word. The form “insinde” apears to be constructed in exactly the way the surviving Celtic languages construct the locatives:
        insinde = *inda-sinde
The word “insinde” is most usually translated as “in-this” (Delamarre 2003, p. 274). However, it is posited here that the modern Gaulish language has reinterpreted this word as meaning “the-this” and hence “here”, in an exact parallel with the surviving Celtic languages. As such, the attested “insinde” is reanalysed as “here”, and its unattested counterpart “inse” will be “there”. With regular loss of word endings and application of modern Gaulish phonology, that gives:
        insin: here
        insé: there
The concept of “over there” (i.e. at a point further away than just “there”) can be expressed with the attested Gaulish word “pel” (< pelos, Delamarre 2003, p. 247-48):
        insé pel: over there (“there far”)