Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

The Celtic Languages

48 Replies to “The Celtic Languages”

  • As many viewers have noted, there are some pronunciation problems with the Irish samples in the video. Click here for a mini-video containing new and improved Irish audio samples with more authentic pronunciation:
    (it's about 30 seconds long). Thanks!

  • I live in Como, Italy, and am presently preparing a course of lectures in English on the History of Great Britain & the Evolution of the English Language to Italians who know English. In the first one (already delivered) I concentrated mainly on the Celts, their languages and the few Celtic words which have passed into English (even from their into Italian). I don't speak any Celtic language, apart from some odd words & phrases, but am fervently in favour of their survival!  My maternal grandmother came from Shropshire, a county on the Welsh border and when I was a child she used to tell me not to "mither" (pester) her. I was delighted when I discovered that it came from a Welsh word "moedro". Celts of the World work on your young generations to get back to one million speakers each (perhaps not in the Isle of Man or Cornwall, but 100,000 + would be fine!)

  • We learn Irish until 17 or 18. We study some poetry, a novel or a book of short stories. Higher level students study a few extra books. In general we can sing some or most of our national anthem in Irish. We used to recite the Lords prayer or the Hail Mary at school in Irish. Sadly it is not used much by people outside school. Some people are hostile to it saying it is pointless and a waste of money. However there is quite a lot of goodwill towards it. Personally I hope it survives and do not begrudge the money spent on it. There are an increasing number of Gaelscoileanna for children to complete their studies through Irish. Anyway I like Irish and welcome any initiatives to promote it.

  • I'm a Spanish native speaker, and I once studied Irish Gaelic, only the basics. But I liked it, though I didn't know (and still don't know) how they spell words. I just can't believe Gaelic languages are on the verge of extinction :/ Please, Celtic languages speakers, keep using them, I believe more people would be glad to learn them!

  • Serbs and Celts lived together 2000 years ago and we have about 1000 common words, specialy with Welsh language. Save your culture and language at all costs. Geetings from Serbia. 🇷🇸

  • I am Irish and am able to hold regular conversation in Irish but it is not my first language. I speak it outside of school sometimes but only to a couple of my friends. I think it is important to be able to speak the language of my homeland but I hate the way it is taught in school. It is taught in a way which you just have to learn off essays about poetry and you don't actually really learn the language. I think Irish would be a much more prominent language in the country if it was taught with the intention of teaching the language rather than to learn off essays upon essays.

  • Dude, are you saying that the Celts that exist in the British Isles–with their language–crossed from Brittany at some point during the Roman Invasions and that those are the Celts today? First of all, there were Celts in the British Isles long before that conjecture you just stated. Empirical evidence clearly shows that the first peoples that called themselves Celts crossed from Iberia–namely Galicia–and mixed with the Hunter Gatherers that existed there at a point during the Neolithic era. The Celts arrived in the British Isles on or about the same time as farming from the Middle East did, and they populated the Isles (Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Scotland, Mann and Britain). None of those Hunter Gatherers have any DNA that match the Celts today, neither do the Celts from Central Europe–Hallsttatt Celts. In fact, there is little to non-existent evidence that shows the Halsttatt Celts have any DNA matches to any in the British Isles. However, when compared to the DNA of Galicians, Asturians, and Basque Country in Spain, the concentrations and similarities are astounding. I suggest you do not show this pseudo-scientific video as if it is real because it just misleads the lay watcher. It is actually offensive. I suggest you should do some research before making these claims you are making. Please read "The Blood of the Isles" by Bryan Sykes.

  • I am a Brazilian guy who loves Celtic culture… Honestly, I always think about my Portuguese and Spanish ancestors as having some part of celtiberian blood rsrs. That maybe could explain my passionate relation with the Celts… I am very glad to be learning Welsh on Duolingo and feeling even more near to that wonderful culture. I think Celtic nations must be proud and do everything they could to keep Celtic languages alive. Hwyl, paub!

  • Post Card From Brittany: Breton is still widely spoken here in Trégor …..(Maybe not so much the towns, but certainly in the countryside). Contradicting the video, many children benefit from a bilingual early education – Skol Diwan, which along with a re-emergence of interest in Celtic culture and sports has created an upturn in the spoken language. I use Breton everyday, but more often than not in conjunction with French. Because of it's recent history Breton has a primarily oral tradition and with the four principle dialects being much less homogeneous than one might expect given the relatively small geographical area. Both Vocabulary, Pronunciation and Idiom can vary enormously over 20 to 30 kms though the language remains mutually intelligible (with some effort) over the four dialects.

  • I'm a Native Welsh speaker didn't speak English until 7years old, I still struggle with Enlish and am always translating in my head when speaking English, from a Welsh only speaking area.

  • Direct English control of Ireland didn't begin until 1536, and only really got established after the flight of the Northern Earls in 1607. Ireland had a separate legal system (Brehon law) and clan-based power structure before that.

  • This is a much better post on Celtic Languages. But first on the extermination thesis. I believe all stories in ancient times of extermination are simply the victor boasting including the Punic Wars by Julius Caesar. The leadership was exterminated but the women and children were mostly assimilated into the conquering hoard or, if the attack was a warning/revenge, left to their own devices. In a continent where literally everyone is related to both Charlemagne and his page and charwoman (c. 800) that means that literally all Europeans have Celtic blood. If we move forward to the age of the Celtic Romance (800 CE to 1600) which is clearly Northern Europe's reaction to Charlemagne (not good), those chivalric stories (Tristan and Isolde, Arthurian, etc.) and their message of fair play and peace are Celtic. And it was the Irish monks who re-Christianized Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire c 600-1170 CE. These missionaries may have spoken Latin formally but informally most of the regions where they were readily welcomed were formerly Celtic (especially in the upper Rhine and Modern Switzerland). And they preached the old, pre-schism (with Orthodoxy) religion. A sin in the eyes of the Papacy that took the German Pope Benedict to close the monasteries they founded along the Rhine c. 2010. They never forget!

    But let's go backwards. On the Northern Coast of the Iberian Peninsula are Galicia (where Santiago de Compostela was built starting in CE 40 with the burial of Apostle James) and Andalusia. In the 1860's, a revival of Spanish poetry after almost 170 years of moribund and mediocre poetry was re-started by Rosalia de Castro who wrote a book of poems in Galician which, with other Spanish and Catalan writers, started a revival of Spanish literature that flowed to South America while they were finally quashed by Franco during WWII with the murder of Federico Lorca. (Rosalia went on to write ground-breaking feminist novels in Castillian Spanish. Leon is the lowlands just South of Andalusia, which borders Castille just South of Leon and includes Madrid. So without the mountains of Galicia and Andalusia, Spain does not exist since the Celtic region was the only effective resistance against Islam.

    And in the same times as the Romance literature, there were the ongoing summer pilgrimages to Santiago de Compestela on foot from the British Isles and Western Coast of France and from Eastern Germany and Poland continuing on through today.

    The big mistake of the Aryan theorists in the 1930's was to identify race with language. I think we are making that mistake again.

    Languages arise from the women and children within a tribe. Once that tribe must join a larger entity all sorts of changes take place. And some languages become ghosts, but not exactly extinct. In the 18th century, every major language exploded with new vocabulary to support industry, technology, science, war, government and peace. Those words are mostly nouns or adjectives (see pscycho-babble). But few if any new verbs were created. And "urban verbs" are rare. In English they are mostly the verb forms of nouns like tabled or manufactured. In science, the verb is actually each equation to which a noun (aka argument, value) is passed as a variable to the universal mathematical language. So if you do not know math in the 2000s you are simply not literate.

  • I speak Welsh as a first language and the main problem I see in my community is that people believe that speaking Welsh isn't "cool". It's obvious that the number of people who speak Welsh on a day to day basis is on a decline partly due to this reason. I hope that these kind of attitudes towards the language change and that people see the Welsh language as something valuable and important. Cymru am byth.

  • There are places in Galicia Spain that speak it as well, I'm mind-blown to hear of a culture from Turkey called Galacian, maybe this is a correlation….

  • No, the survival of the languages (Welsh in particular for me, being Welsh) does not necessarily depend on the locals, although obviously we must thoroughly play our part. But most of blame lies at the feet of Westminster. They have allowed swathes of English people to flood into the Welsh speaking heartlands of the north (The south fell to the same tactic a century before). Many assert (as I do myself) that it is a deliberate ploy to (as Henry VIII stated centuries ago) English the Welsh language out of them.

    And so here`s the problem. Most English migrants do not assimilate into the local culture, especially when they come en masse, because there is simply no need for them to do so when they have their own countrymen in abundance around them. When immigration numbers are light, there is assimilation, and I have witnessed this assimilation first hand. But en masse is utterly destructive. This forces the Welsh to either utterly ignore them to avoid gradually being anglicized over time (at the risk of being called Anglo-phobes, narrow minded or ignorant) or to speak English with the English migrants. This same social dynamic extends to the children they bring with them, who speak English with the Welsh speaking children, who then form a habit of mostly speaking English on a daily basis, and consequently the youth become Anglicized over time, and in quite as short period of time at that. Again, how can the Welsh speaking children simply ignore the English children? they cannot, they will not, they do not.

    This is the real cause of the decline of the language. We didn`t all of sudden just all unanimously decide not to speak it any longer in favour of English. The Welsh have had TV for as long as it has been available, and have watched English TV programs, English films, and listened to the English language music scene for the same amount of time, AND have been taught English in schools for as long as we have had schools. But this never influenced the Welsh to abandon their beloved language. It is only in the last 60 or so years that the language has declined, and this has obviously coincided with the influx of the English from major cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool (especially Liverpool) All of the northern coastal towns cannot be called Welsh in any real sense, and what you hear is a Scouse accent without any trace of Welshness. At least the valleys have their distinctive Welsh accent, although they cannot speak Welsh for the best part. Many more inland towns have also fallen.
    These towns have simply been totally anglicized through 50-60 or more years of constant influx from the cities mentioned.

    Now without wanting to sound like the eternal victim with Marxist sentiments (I`m certainly no Marxist or socialist, my political leanings are quite conservative) the historical antipathy and bigotry of The English towards the Welsh and their language and culture has been prevalent for centuries, and it still survives to this day, although a minority of English people (God bless them) are slightly more sympathetic to the plight of the Welsh to keep their cultural identity, and even assist it by becoming Welsh, so to speak. . But this is obviously not enough in any remedial sense. This is simply the truth of the matter, and I do not harbour any hatred towards the English. I do not hate them, because I always try to put the shoe on the other foot, you know, if I myself was English, and so on.

    Now since Wales is not a fully independent nation, and only has a devolved government with limited powers, they cannot legislate effectively regarding the survival of the language. And even if they did, the measures to reverse the effect of mass immigration would be extreme, and would have to be, and certainly would be deemed so by many of the English settlers and their descendants. But as far as Westminster is concerned, we must look at it from a practical perspective from their point of view. Westminster has to finance the following 1. Road signs and road markings in both languages 2. Official DSS letters (and similar documents) in both languages. 3. S4C the Welsh TV station. 4. The local Radio stations. 5. All the bilingual literature for Schooling in Welsh speaking schools, just to mention a few. That`s a lot of paper, double the amount they would have to otherwise do if the Welsh spoke English only. Do you not think they they would rather not have to constantly finance this? You`d be a fool to think otherwise.

    The plan has been, since many decades now, conspiratorial though it may seem, to make the language extinct through mass immigration from England, to once and for all rid this island of what they have always deemed a backward, difficult to speak and unnecessary language that has always been a bugbear to them, and an utter inconvenience, both culturally and financially. It`s particularly an inconvenience and a source of paranoia to them when they travel here on their holidays to hear locals speak Welsh. They constantly accuse us of only speaking it when they are present and that we are always talking about them behind their backs. I had one English lady in a local shop once tell me that it was rude of me to speak to the shop owner in Welsh when an English person was present. Yeah, she actually had the gall to say that to me here in my own damn country. The English never lack the nerve, that is for sure. I politely told her that she didn`t have to be here if she didn`t like it, and that moving back to England might be a solution for the offence she felt.

    But this is precisely what we Welsh speakers are faced with here in Wales, and the ignorance and disrespect of the English people (and their government) seems to have no end. Don`t get me wrong, we Welsh have our many faults also, and are not immune to the same moral maladies the English suffer from. I guess that is all across the board when it comes to human beings. And so, sorry for this long winded comment, but people have to understand the truth about why the Welsh language is in drastic decline, and who is largely responsible for it`s decline, the English government and mass English migration. What do we do to save it? Do we fight them? How can we beat such a huge population of people compared to our own with their obvious military prowess? We don`t even have our own army for God`s sake. Or just kiss it all goodbye and lose our distinct cultural identity, along with all the beautiful literature and music that it has produced over the centuries? Our backs are against the wall, and without an intervention of some sort, possibly divine, I don`t see how we can possibly keep it alive over the next century. I will speak it to my dying day, and I will speak it with the locals and all my family members, adults and children alike, at least those who are of a similar mindset to me, who love the language. But I have witnessed my own family`s children as they have grown up becoming quite anglicized through obvious interaction with English migrants. It almost seems hopeless and inevitable that it will die out. But make no mistake, our fault it is definitely not, not for the very best part at least. Like I said initially, we must play our part, and there can certainly be apathy and laziness among many of the Welsh. But the blame lies largely (if not solely in some respects) at the feet of the "eternally frosty, indifferent and hubristic" attitude of Westminster toward the Welsh.

    On a final note, speaking of the common English folk. Those who come to live here for the obvious beauty and tranquility of the Welsh landscape, and to escape city life (and who are in many cases fleeing muslim immigration in their inner cities – White flight) I say this, and this does sound scathing but is not without merit. The vast majority of English people have never EVER respected us enough to consider what our own culture, language, and national identity means to us. Sadly, I don`t expect to see this attitude change any time soon.

  • Having considerable French ancestry, I decided not too long ago to look into Gaulish to see how much of the language is attested. It turns out there's a professionally constructed Modern Gaulish (Galáthach hAthevíu, literally "revitalized Galatian") that has a small online community of speakers and some learning materials, but sadly it doesn't seem to be a very active group. It's a really pretty language though. Some of the usual Celtic features are there – VSO, initial consonant mutation, inflected prepositions – while other features are strangely absent. I grew up listening to Enya and learning what all her songs in Irish Gaelic mean, and now to see a distant cousin language with some familiar elements, it's really cool.

  • All countries in Britain are dying. No matter if we are from Ængland, Cymru, Alba, or Eire we need to keep our cultures alive

  • Come on celte people!!!!greetings from Basque country…..its not the same origin ….but is my friends🤝🤝🤝

  • There is a simple reason why today Welsh is florishing whilst Cornish had died (but is being revived from death). Queen Elizabeth I commissioned that the Bible should be translated into Welsh (as well as into English). Welsh was one of the earliest languages to have a full translation of the Bible. With the Welsh having a language which wasn't just based on conversation but on something that could also be read, Welsh had that extra provision enabling it to better survive. Churches in Cornwall had Bibles in English even though, in the 16th century, few Cornish would have understood English & would have better understood Welsh. Even today, the Bible has never been translated into Cornish. Considering how important church was at that time, in made a big impact on the survival or death of languages.

  • Is mise Mheiriceánach agus tá mé comhráol modhúlacht i nGaeilge. Usuaidím í gach lá ar an idirlíon. (Is mishah Vericanak ah gus taw may corah hool mo ooluck ih nailgyah Owh sawjgeem ee gahk law air un idjerlean) I am an American and I am modestly conversational in IRISH I use it everyday on the internet.

    I also count money and tell time and other common actions to myself in IRISH. I have also been published in IRISH in The Irish Times "Letters to the Editor" section in Dublin.There is a small community of IRISH speakers here in NYC and we use the language among each other. I learned IRISH as an adult and I feel it is an important part of Irish Culture and knowing and using it enriches my personal life and creates a deep connection to my ethnic heritage.

    I find that I am much freer in my use of IRISH than Irish people, with the exception of fluent speakers. I attribute this to the fact that as anAmerican of Irish decent, I have no Shame around speaking and using the language. The English were VERY successful in making the Irish think their language is second class due to colonialism!!

    Is mise,

    Maidhc (Mike)


  • Ireland is not part of the British isles and never will be . It boils our blood my friend ☘☘☘☘☘☘

  • I live in West Cumbria and Cumbric is another Brythonic language that lives here to a small degree.

  • Given that the majority of English DNA is actually Brythonic, I would love to have been given the chance to learn a Celtic language at school.

  • Ireland was an English colony until 1949????? I am very disappointed to see such an error. I don’t understand. Your programs usually seem so well researched and I don’t understand why I am the only one commenting on this either.

  • I'm a fluent welsh speaker from Caernarfon. (one of the most oppressed towns in wales when wales got invaded in the 11th century) To be able to speak welsh as a first language is really important because the younger generation like myself need to never forget our roots and pass on our knowledge to the next.

  • Thank you for posting this interesting vlog.

    I was born in England to Welsh parents then moved to mainly English-speaking parts of Wales (the NE). My parents sometimes spoke Welsh to each other (and ocasionally to me) as I grew up. I also heard Welsh spoken often in the wider family, who live mainly in Welsh-speaking NW Wales. In those days Welsh did not have legal status in Wales but the Welsh Language Act was passed into law in 1968 giving Welsh better legal status. This status has been improved following devolution of Governmental powers from the UK Parliament in London to the Welsh Assembly (now called Welsh Government) at the end of the 20th century. When devolution powers were strengthened in 2011 to permit the Welsh Assembly to make its own primary statute laws the first legislation to be passed by the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff was the Welsh Language Measure 2011, which provides additional protection to the language.

    In NW Wales around 70% of residents speak Welsh as their first language. That proportion drops to around 40-50% in SW Wales and perhaps 10-15% in NE and SE Wales, although the absolute numbers of Welsh speakers may be higher in the east than in the west. This is because the eastern areas of Wales are more urbanised and have been subject to higher levels of in-migration by English-speakers from England and elsewhere.

    The Welsh language is crucial to the cultural identity of the people of Wales and to Wales as a constitutional entity, but the Welsh Government will have to go much further in ensuring promotion and usage of the language if Welsh is to survive in the long term. In part this is due to the level of out-migration of Welsh speakers seeking higher level education and employment (such as myself) and high levels of of in-migration to Wales from England. Most English people – even those with a good standard of education – are either completely unaware that Welsh is still spoken as a living language and that there is a distinctively different Welsh culture or unaware of the extent to which the language is spoken and to which the community culture and social values are different from those of urban England.

    In a period where the virtues of diversity and respect for other cultures are urged by those in Government the population of Britain as a whole should be properly educated regarding the long-established minority cultures extant within the UK. At the moment I find that the levels of ignorance regarding these cultures and languages in England are surprisingly high.

  • I use a mix of Welsh and English daily, at work and at home. I've heard people say they know no Welsh even though they may have lived here their whole lives but when they pronounce place names which are nearly all in Welsh, they do so perfectly. I suppose it could be argued that it's not possible for anyone to live in Wales without using the language on an almost daily basis which is a nice thought.

  • I heard that the predominance of the progressive in English is from Celtic speakers. Have you heard anything about that?

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