Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby poor_mouse » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:21 pm

Tha same thing in Old Slavonic: "бяху/суть людие стояще" (lit.: were/are the people standing).
But it might be the borrowed construction (from Greek).


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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Seonaidh » Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:06 pm

Inntinneach!

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Níall Beag » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:10 pm

Not to forget the Indic languages (Hindi etc), which I just said were like backwards Celtic languages. This includes the use of the progressive (aka continuous) aspect, which as elsewhere noted was present in Ancient Greek. It appears that the progressive aspect is something that has been lost from various languages. If colloquial German speech allows it, it suggests to me that it was never fully lost, but that the written form took on other rules - either due to translationese from other languages, or the fact that the progressive aspect wasn't appropriate to the types of texts being written (a history book would probably favour preterite and imperfect over progressive, for example).

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Seonaidh » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:11 am

A rèir Krishnamurti (2003):
A number of grammatical features of Vedic Sanskrit not found in its sister Avestan language appear to have been borrowed from Dravidian languages. These include the gerund, which has the same function as in Dravidian, and the quotative marker it.

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Níall Beag » Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:08 pm

Ah, interesting.

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Mairead » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:37 am

Seonaidh wrote:That is, you can say "I am running" in English, or "Rydw i'n rhedeg" in Welsh, or "Tha mi a' ruith" in Gaelic - but you can't really say, e.g., "Je suis courant" in French. No doubt GC will confirm or otherwise the situation vis-à-vis German. Also, if I mind right, this sort of construction is not at all common in such early works as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which suggests it's probably not something the Anglo-Saxons brought with them when they came to Britain: rather, it seems to be something that the "insular Celtic" speakers took with them when they changed their speech from Celtic to English way back when - and it then developed into the English norm.

The remaining question is - where did these "insular Celts" pick it up from, if it's not an Indo-European thing? For, obviously, the first people in Britain were not speakers of a Celtic language.


I hadn't realised this was such an unusual feature, and it's quite interesting that you can't do that in French because in Spanish you can: "Estoy corriendo" (I am running) versus "Correo" (I run). In Spanish this is not as common a construction as in English, but it does exist and conveys more immediacy than "correo" (which can be a current or habitual action). If it's true that Spanish and Portuguese are the only Romance languages that have this (which I'm extrapolating from the fact that you said French doesn't, and how you've said this is an unusual feature), then I wouldn't be surprised if they picked this up from the Celtic languages due to the Iberian Celtic presence. I would be interested to know whether or not you can do this in Basque, that most mysterious of non-IE European languages...
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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby jeltzz » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:25 am

I think, one of the problems with this kind of discussion is that not all 'features' of languages are necessarily 'borrowed' by contact with others. Some of them develop over time. It's just a bit too simplistic to line up different languages, note similar structural features, and then attribute 'influence'.

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Mairead » Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:00 pm

That's definitely true! There are lots of things that seem like they can't have evolved naturally but make perfect sense to someone who understands how sounds and structures have evolved over time. I did some more research on this and found that the theory of Celtic influence on English/Spanish/etc for the present progressive is one that has been hotly contested. As more knowledge about Gaulish and other early Celtic languages spreads throughout the discipline (such as Old Welsh, which hasn't always been given fair due when it comes to influences on English), it will be interesting to see how many of these things we wonder about turn out to be influence, and how many turn out to be coincidental/not directly influenced.
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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Seonaidh » Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:04 am

There's not a lot of Gaulish - or, for that matter, Celtiberian - around to look at. It is very difficult to extrapolate the everyday use of a language from fragmentary and somewhat formal fragments, e.g. lists and engravings. I cannot mind much of what's known about Gaulish, but I think (open to correction) it's either SOV or SVO, i.e. like Latin or English rather than modern Celtic languages (which are VSO as a rule).

As for Basque, the word order is highly variable: you tend to put the most important bit of the sentence first, whether that's technically a subject, object, verb or whatever. It has very few verbs that actually conjugate and a marked tendency to use periphrastic forms (e.g. "I am running" rather than "I run"). For those verbs that do conjugate, you can get different verb forms according to (a) who is doing it, (b) what is being done and (c) how it's being done - to name but a few. Fortunately, though, Basque is "agglutinative", which means the endings etc. tend to be pretty similar whatever they're stuck onto. It would be a possible "substrate" candidate for unusual periphrastic forms in the Romance Iberian languages, especially Castilian and Aragonese. However, while the appearance of such ancient towns as "Illiberris" (modern Granada, once Elvira) suggests some form of proto-Basque language was widespread in Iberia (the name is fairly transparent Basque for "new town"), there is no proof that Basque was even related to Iberian, whatever that was. The oldest recoded Basque is a few Roman carvings from Aquitaine, which does seem to show that Basque was probably an early language of Gascony (modern Gascon, technically a dialect of French, often looks and sounds more like Spanish).

Anyway, I've never come across any "Illiberris"-type places in the British Isles, so there is no way one can "assume" that a similar language to Basque was once spoken here. All one can really do is not to dismiss such an idea out of hand. As to whether whatever was spoken here before Celtic languages arrived influenced the development of "Insular Celtic", it's highly likely: no language is in a vacuum. But whether that influence included such things as the typical periphrastic form of all modern Celtic languages is speculation.

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Níall Beag » Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:54 pm

Seonaidh wrote:(modern Gascon, technically a dialect of French, often looks and sounds more like Spanish).

I can't let that one pass. Gascon is a "langue d'Oc" -- it's a dialect of Occitan if anything. There's also a dialect of it spoken across the border in Spain: Aranese. Just an aside.

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Re: Relationship of Gaelic to Classical Languages

Unread postby Seonaidh » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:02 pm

OK - or Oc. Aranese is also somewhat interesting because "aran" is actually the Basque word for "gleann". For instance, I visited a nice funicular railway recently, with the two closest railway stations being Trapaga and Valle de Trapaga - or Trapagaran (a little west of Bilbo).