p & q Celtic (was Names)

Anna Skarzynska theania at freeuk.com
Tue Nov 28 13:11:51 EST 2000

Philip wrote:
> Just one thing, though.  P-celtic and q-celtic.  Do you mean Brittannic
> Goidelic?  If so, which is which?
Dorian wrote:
>So go on telling us about how Irish and
>welsh fit together, please!

You may yet regret that last request....
But, here goes:
P-Celtic = Brythonic, Q-Celtic= Goidelic. In their common ancestor, Common
Celtic (CC), there was a q sound (kw phonetically), which was inherited from
Indo-European (IE). IE is pre-writing, so all _its_ reconstructions are
hypothetical. But there are some Celtic inscriptions which predate the p and
q Celtic division. Anyway, it seems that p- Celts had a problem vocalising
the -kw- sound and rendered it as -p-. The q-Celts reduced it to -k-. (This,
btw, is what my old lecturer termed "the principle of mumbling")
Example: in a CC inscription we get MAQQOS ("son"), pronounced [makwos]
This eventually gives us Old Irish macc, Mod. Ir. mac, Welsh map, turning
into mab due to another sound change on which I shan't dwell here, you'll be
relieved to hear.
The first person to note the relationship between Welsh and Irish was Edward
Lhuyd, a Welsh polymath (I love this word!) who died in 1607 or so. There
are other pairs of sounds in Ir. and W. which correspond and much fun can be
had identifying examples.
Such as: W gw - Ir f, as in gwyn/fionn, "white"
W ff (pron. f) - Ir. s, as in ffwrn/sorn, "oven, furnace", ffrwd/ sruth
"stream" ffenest/sinistear "window"
W h - Ir. s, as in halen/salann "salt"
W ll (that's that weird peculiarly Welsh sound, ask a native to render it
for you!) - Ir. sl, as in llu/ sluagh "host, multitude"
and the aforementioned W p - Ir c (pron. k), as in pwyll/ ciall "sense",
pen/ceann "head" and many others.

I hope this wasn't too boring/ technical/ whatever for you all!
Ania, happy to be back.

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