p & q Celtic (was Names)

Philip.Belben at pgen.com Philip.Belben at pgen.com
Tue Nov 28 20:03:44 EST 2000

First, apologies to anyone whose mail software was confused by the incorrect
date on my system when I last posted...

Anyway, Ania on languages:

> P-Celtic = Brythonic, Q-Celtic= Goidelic. In their common ancestor, Common
> Celtic (CC), there was a q sound (kw phonetically), which was inherited from

Thank you.  All is clear.

> 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")

:-)  I like it.

Reminiscent, too, of G and H in slavonic languages.  AFAICT, most of them have
both sounds, but Russian renders practically all Hs and all Gs as G, while Czech
goes the other way and turns them all into H.  It can be fun spotting examples
there as well: Russian GORAD (-grad in placenames) being cognate with Czech
HRAD, etc.  (although ISTR Gorad means a town, while Hrad means a castle)

> 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.

Fair enough.  But could you explain why the M disappears altogether in Welsh

> 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.

Fun!  What interests me is that these sound changes seem to be after the Celtic
languages picked up so many Latin words.  Is this because Latin had ceased to be
an influence (presumaby 5th century or later, then)?  Or because the common
Latin words got in much earlier and were already regarded as Celtic?  Or some
other reason?

> I hope this wasn't too boring/ technical/ whatever for you all!

I am well out of my depth technically, but finding it all so much fun that I
couldn't possibly accuse you of being boring!



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