How to make a Celtic lostlang?

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Zythros Jubi
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How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Zythros Jubi » 04 Nov 2019 17:57

What would a Celtic lostlang in Galicia look like? Galicia was a destination for Britons (e.g. Insular Celts) in early Middle Ages like Brittany used to be; however, I wonder whether there were any Continental Celtic speaker left there. Another problem is how would it have been influenced by Ibero-Romance languages, as I have no idea to what extent Breton was influenced by Old French and other Gallo-Romance languages, especially with respect to phonology. A possible scenario of survival might be that Celtic Galician remained in the north of Galicia, while the south became Romance-speaking, akin to the relationship between Breton and Gallo. Anyway, what phonological and morphological features are likely to occur, considering the influence of Continental Celtic langs (e.g. no mutations)?
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Salmoneus » 04 Nov 2019 19:08

Wouldn't it be more fun for you if we didn't tell you what your language should be like? That way, you could decide some of these things for yourself.

A couple of points:
- why would there be no mutations in an insular celtic language? Breton has mutations.
- it's not very helpful to talk of 'continental celtic' - Celtiberian/Gallaecian was not closely related to Gaulish, and some have suggested that it would have branched off before the continental/insular split.
- it'll be influenced as much or as little by romance language as you want it to be.

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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by sangi39 » 04 Nov 2019 22:57

It probably depends a lot on what else is going beyond "Brittonic language spoken in northern Spain", e.g. how its speakers interact with the presumably native population, how neighbouring groups interact with them, the "status" the language holds (and the history behind that), etc.

IIRC, the Celtic languages in Spain aren't attested beyond around the 2nd Century AD, presumably as a result of romanisation in the region, although that's just the written languages, so maybe there was a hold out population somewhere, but honestly it's probably easier to just say they weren't there any more.

As Sal said, Breton still has initial mutations, and I'm not sure French had too much of an influence on its phonology beyond the rise of nasal vowels (I think from vowels before nasal consonants), and palatal consonant (palatalisation adjacent to front vowels), and having a uvular rhotic in more recent times, and apparently the shift of the voiced dental fricative to /z/ in some dialects.

On the other hand, some dialects of Welsh have been losing mutations (using soft mutation where you'd expect nasal mutation, for example, but whether that's the result of influence from English, or the way Welsh is learned, I don't know).

But, yeah, how your Brittonic language develops will likely depend a lot on history, politics, and people.
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Salmoneus » 05 Nov 2019 00:17

sangi39 wrote:
04 Nov 2019 22:57

IIRC, the Celtic languages in Spain aren't attested beyond around the 2nd Century AD, presumably as a result of romanisation in the region, although that's just the written languages, so maybe there was a hold out population somewhere, but honestly it's probably easier to just say they weren't there any more.
Perhaps worth pointing out, though, that Aquitanian is known from only a very small number of actual Roman-era inscriptions, and yet Basque still survived...

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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by dva_arla » 05 Nov 2019 08:39

Not meaning to disappoint you m8 (again), but a Galician Celtic language has been done:

https://conlang.fandom.com/wiki/Galeiga

The fellow has gone as far as to create a Reference Grammar of it:

https://www.reddit.com/r/conlangs/comme ... reference/

w/ sound :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzXYcnq ... 7&index=17

On the other hand, I could see some "flaws" in Gallaecian. For example, gathering from what I heard in Youtube (I haven't read the reference grammar yet, which is bound to be more authoritative) the language still retains the cluster /gd/, while imho it should've lenited to /wd/ or /jd/.

As for the RTL Gallician language, it does have mutation (if you regard it as such). From the Galician phonology Wikipedia:
Voiced plosives (/ɡ/, /d/ and /b/) are lenited (weakened) to approximants or fricatives in all instances, except after a pause or a nasal consonant; e.g. un gato 'a cat' is pronounced [uŋ ˈɡatʊ], whilst o gato 'the cat' is pronounced [ʊ ˈɣatʊ].

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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by qwed117 » 05 Nov 2019 08:52

Iberian Romance and Sardinian both have intervocalic lenition, but I don't think that's ever considered a form of mutation the way it is in modern Insular Celtic languages
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Zekoslav » 05 Nov 2019 08:58

qwed117 wrote:
05 Nov 2019 08:52
Iberian Romance and Sardinian both have intervocalic lenition, but I don't think that's ever considered a form of mutation the way it is in modern Insular Celtic languages
Probably because the phonetic environment which causes intervocalic lenition is still there?
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Salmoneus » 05 Nov 2019 14:19

dva_arla wrote:
05 Nov 2019 08:39
Not meaning to disappoint you m8 (again), but a Galician Celtic language has been done:

https://conlang.fandom.com/wiki/Galeiga

The fellow has gone as far as to create a Reference Grammar of it:

https://www.reddit.com/r/conlangs/comme ... reference/

w/ sound :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzXYcnq ... 7&index=17
I think you may be a bit confused here!

a) your first and third links are for a project called "Galeiga". Your second link is for a project called "Calá". These are clearly different languages!

b) as the simultaneous existence of Calá and Galeiga demonstrates, the fact that something has been "done" is no reason not to do it again!

c) both Calá and Galeiga are Celtiberian/Gallaecian languages - i.e. the languages of the first Celtic settlers in Iberia - whereas the OP is talking about a Brythonic language, i.e. the language of settlers from Britain after the fall of Rome. These are two totally different models for a celtic language in gallaecia, so aren't really the same thing at all. [e.g. celtiberian lacks the distinctive /kw/ > /p/ change of brythonic]

[there are at least three other viable celtic-gallician models. Two are goidelic languages - spoken either by Irish pirates and slavers settling in gallicia in the first few centuries after Rome (i.e. branching off from Primitive Irish, perhaps with some Old Irish features due to continued contact for a century or two), or else by Norsegael invaders (Irish-speaking Vikings, who dominated the hebrides for a few centuries) around the turn of the millennium (i.e. branching off from late Old or from Middle Irish). The third alternative is to accept the Irish myth of settlement from Gallicia, and do the goidelic language of the gaels who didn't go to ireland (i.e. from before primitive irish). However, since this relies on a myth, and more importantly since I'm not sure a language splitting off so early would really be particularly distinctive, I wouldn't recommend that option).
On the other hand, I could see some "flaws" in Gallaecian. For example, gathering from what I heard in Youtube (I haven't read the reference grammar yet, which is bound to be more authoritative) the language still retains the cluster /gd/, while imho it should've lenited to /wd/ or /jd/.
A different conlanger not doing what you'd have done is not a "flaw". There is no "should've" - nothing about the clust /gd/ inherently 'should' lenite, it appears in a great many languages, including English!

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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by sangi39 » 05 Nov 2019 21:17

Salmoneus wrote:
05 Nov 2019 00:17
sangi39 wrote:
04 Nov 2019 22:57

IIRC, the Celtic languages in Spain aren't attested beyond around the 2nd Century AD, presumably as a result of romanisation in the region, although that's just the written languages, so maybe there was a hold out population somewhere, but honestly it's probably easier to just say they weren't there any more.
Perhaps worth pointing out, though, that Aquitanian is known from only a very small number of actual Roman-era inscriptions, and yet Basque still survived...
I thought that was due to different levels of romanisation within the areas inhabited by the Vascones and the areas inhabited by other Vasconic speakers like the Aquitani?
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by sangi39 » 05 Nov 2019 21:20

I'm with Sal, again, on the "already done" point. That hasn't stopped people making Romlangs, Germlangs, Slavlangs, etc. in areas that people have already tried putting them.

Different histories and factors will have different affects on how languages might develop, giving conlangers freedom to take the same basic concept and going in different directions with it. It's not about whether it's been done before or not, but whether you feel like it could be worth doing, or even just whether it could be fun to try.
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Salmoneus » 05 Nov 2019 21:37

I don't think the 'why' matters, does it? My point is that Vasconic is known from Aquitanian inscriptions - which I can't find solid details on but apparently are from the 3rd to 5th centuries? - and then from fragmentary sentences in Basque from the 11th century, with nothing in between. The fact that Basque does exist, and must have existed all that time, shows that you don't need attestations to exist. So the fact that Gallaecian isn't attested after the 2nd century doesn't mean an alt-history can't realistically have it popping up again in the mountains of gallicia in, say, the 9th century.

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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by sangi39 » 05 Nov 2019 23:21

Salmoneus wrote:
05 Nov 2019 21:37
I don't think the 'why' matters, does it? My point is that Vasconic is known from Aquitanian inscriptions - which I can't find solid details on but apparently are from the 3rd to 5th centuries? - and then from fragmentary sentences in Basque from the 11th century, with nothing in between. The fact that Basque does exist, and must have existed all that time, shows that you don't need attestations to exist. So the fact that Gallaecian isn't attested after the 2nd century doesn't mean an alt-history can't realistically have it popping up again in the mountains of gallicia in, say, the 9th century.
Ohhhhhhh, I think I missed your point. I meant that its existence now was, at least partly, due to relatively less romanisation in those areas than in others, regardless of attestations during the Roman period or before, not that the lack of attestation meant it wasn't there at all. I actually made that point in an earlier post:
IIRC, the Celtic languages in Spain aren't attested beyond around the 2nd Century AD, presumably as a result of romanisation in the region, although that's just the written languages, so maybe there was a hold out population somewhere
My later point, about it being easier just to say the Celtiberian languages died out, was more to do with effort and layering, I guess. But then, yeah, Brittonic speakers were migrating into Galicia from around the 5th Century AD as well, which overlaps with attestations of Gallaecian language, so, yeah, could work.
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Zythros Jubi » 06 Nov 2019 07:41

Actually, I've seen the page about Galeiga before, but I think its aesthetics not impressing enough. Maybe its phonology should become more similar to Iberian Romance languages, especially phonotactics. I originally intended to imitate Latin-to-Galician sound changes, but that's also boring; I should as well check out when Britons emigrated there and what the Brythonic languages are like at that time. Have the endings like -a, -on and -os vanished at that time?
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Zekoslav » 06 Nov 2019 10:18

I think final syllables were already lost when Britons emigrated to Brittany, but don't hold my word.

Also, I agree that "X-ic language in Y-ia with same changes from proto-X as Y-ic had from proto-Y" is actually not that interesting nor realistic. Languages under heavy contact with neighboring languages may end up having same or similar phonologies, but don't need to end up having them the same way. Romanian, for example, is heavily influenced by Slavic, but didn't share any particular sound changes with the neighbouring Slavic languages (except /sk/ palatalising to /ʃt/, funnily enough).
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Zythros Jubi » 07 Nov 2019 07:50

According to the author of Brittonica:
Brittonica (Brittoníca) is a reconstructed form of late Common Brythonic dating to about the early 6th century, the time of King Arthur, shortly before the loss of final syllables led to the development of the earliest daughter languages (ancestors of Welsh, Breton and Cornish).
Of course King Arthur is fictional; but it is possible that Britons had started leaving for Galicia before this change happened?
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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Salmoneus » 07 Nov 2019 16:46

Zythros Jubi wrote:
07 Nov 2019 07:50
According to the author of Brittonica:
Brittonica (Brittoníca) is a reconstructed form of late Common Brythonic dating to about the early 6th century, the time of King Arthur, shortly before the loss of final syllables led to the development of the earliest daughter languages (ancestors of Welsh, Breton and Cornish).
Of course King Arthur is fictional; but it is possible that Britons had started leaving for Galicia before this change happened?
Zekoslav, in the post immediately before yours, says that he thinks that final syllable loss had already happened by the time of the settlement of Brittany. And indeed, the fact that Breton has it does suggest it had already happened, or else was very strongly incipient in late common brythonic.

One small ray of light for you if you want to avoid this is (most, many, all) final syllables were lost in the Germanic languages, Gallo-Romance, and Goidelic as well as Brythonic, but WEREN'T lost in Iberian Romance. So MAYBE you could chalk it up to areal influence?

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Re: How to make a Celtic lostlang?

Post by Zekoslav » 07 Nov 2019 18:29

To be fair, the apocope can't be dated precisely and most sources put it in the 6th century. As for Wiktionary/Wikipedia having a Proto-Brythonic without apocope even if all Brythonic languages share it, that's probably due to a strict definition of Proto-Something (undifferentiated common ancestor of a family) and Common Something (differentiated but still mutually intelligible common ancestor of a family). Apparently they suppose the apocope spread through an already differentiated dialect continuum, and it's presence in Brittany may be due to the fact that it was right next to Britain. Maybe if your Hispanian Britons move there, say, during the 400's, and cease all contact with Britain, then their language may be spared the apocope.

That doesn't mean it would necessarily preserve cases. In an unofficial Middle Welsh textbook for students, Matasović says that some people suppose cases were already lost before the apocope (rather like in Romance, actually (and it's the apocopated Gallo-Romance which kept cases the longest!).).

Considering Brythonic and Romance common heritage and areal influences, a Celtic language with masculines/neuters ending in -o and feminines ending in -a is very likely if you decide not to include the apocope. [;)]
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