A Gallo-Brittonic Grammar

9.1.11 § 7 commentarii

I’ve been sitting on this for, well, yonks.

It’s a (very) unfinished first draft of a Gallo-Brittonic grammar sketch. It started life as a simple table of inflectional endings, a simple aide-memoire for my personal use when composing texts in Gallo-Brittonic (what? You didn’t think I kept all that stuff in my head, did you?), and then I started expanding it a little, adding in notes on sources. Then I started writing accompanying text, with a view to eventually publishing it.

It’s still very rough, and there are some significant holes. There’s syntax section to speak of, simply a guide to case usage. Similarly, there’s no real phonology section, as descriptions of the reconstructed phonology are easy enough to come by. Additionally, reflecting its origin as a set of notes for my own use, it’s probably rather impenetrable in places to the non-specialist.

Nevertheless, I thought it might be of some amusement to those who fancy “following along at home,” as it were, when I post something in Gallo-Brittonic. To that end, there is an accompanying lexicon, drawn primarily from Matasović’s Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic, but with additional words taken from Delamarre’s Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise and a few other sources.

Who knows, one day I might actually get this finished. I have a horrible habit of beginning projects and not bringing them to completion: there’s about half an essay on domestic sacrifice waiting to be finished, as well as an essay on the gods, and another on ritual purity. Ah, for the time and the self-motivation to actually get something finished.

The Grammar
The Lexicon

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§ 7 Response to “A Gallo-Brittonic Grammar”

  • Frenchie says:

    Ooh an updated version, thanks!

  • Bo says:

    Amazing achievement. I'd never have been so...bold! ;)

  • Deiniol says:

    I believe the word you're looking for is "foolhardy"!

  • Bo says:

    One day I might post my 'Edhellen Iuithadren'...

    Seriously, a wonderful achievement. A few things gave me pause---your phrasing in the line about a gallo-brittonic dialect continuum (which I had favoured) actually made me incline the other way (S Scotland to the Pyrenees is actually a very long way, surely---easily enough for dialectical variants to be enough to render mutual intel. unlikely.)

    Secondly, could you say something about abs./conj. double inflection in British?

  • Deiniol says:

    Thanks :D

    In honesty, I don't think a dialect continuum from the Scottish Lowlands to the Pyrenees is too far at all. We have historical evidence that such continua can spread at least that far: the Romance continuum stretched at least from the Straits of Gibraltar to the English Channel. Of course, mutual intelligibility would be variable along its length: as I said, I doubt a Votadinian and someone from Gallia Narbonensis would have found conversation easy (at first, at least). On the other hand, I don't think it would have been entirely impossible. The expansion of the La Tène culture (and presumably a p-Celtic variety) was, in linguistic terms, remarkably rapid. Less than five centuries, IIRC. We can point to a similarly rapid expansion for the Germanic varieties, and by the time of their first attestation in writing there's still a large amount of mutual intelligibility going on.

    As to abs./conj. inflection, I'm of the opinion that during the time period in question it probably did not exist per se. It is possible that I'm relying too much on the (rather scanty) Gaulish evidence here, but it seems to me that the absolute-conjunct distinction (along with Cowgill's particle, whatever it might have been) is ultimately the product of a shift towards VSO word-order, which according to Eric Hamp was not rigidly grammaticalised during this time period.

  • Deiniol says:

    Also, "Edhellen Iuithadren"? Do tell!

  • Bo says:

    Grand---oh, it's a mortaring of JRRT's Sindarin to make it functional. A bit like Arthur Evans did with Knossos ;) I'm so bored of it being fragmentary.

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