A Conversation for History of the Celts
[...] Started conversation Jun 27, 2003
The celts have stopped being around for a thousand years... Why does this go up until 1999?!
Bran the Explorer Posted Jul 23, 2003
It is a modern identity issue. The term Celt was re-used in the early 17th century by linguists to describe the languages of the non-English peoples of Britain and Ireland: Welsh, Cornish, Scots Highlanders, Manx, Irish (and the Bretons of western France were also included). It is now conventional to use the term Celt as the umbrella for all of these peoples, even though its modern usage is strictly only linguistic. It is certainly not an ethnic designation and should not be taken as such.
Pwilpers2 Posted Aug 30, 2003
Fit like min Bran! A pedantic point but you mention the languages of non-English peoples and then fail to mention Scots. Scots or 'Lallans', the language of Burns and many others, is accepted as a true language. It has many roots in common with English but is a seperate language. For example my greeting above translates literally as 'what like man' but fully as 'hi' how are you' or similar. Other small examples would be words for eye - een, ankle - queet, mess - kirn etc.
In common with all the other non-English languages of these Isles it's use is falling away sadly. Part of this is down to the 'Scottish Cringe' where people used to be made to feel ashamed of what they were. One was meant to be 'North British' and talk RP English. It's not so long since kids were beaten at school for using their local dialect of Lallans (i.e. Doric in the NE of Scotland where I live) rather than RP English. There are still people who say it is not a 'real' language and is just slang or a local accent. Partly the Scottish cringe and partly ignorance.
I can see in my 40 years the increasing disappearance of Doric (especially in urban areas) and reckon that in another generation or so it'll be almost totally gone. A lot of this is to do with global media which I suppose is an inevitable thing but it's sad that we lose the rich heritage of our languages this way. After all if you don't know where you came from how can you know where you're going?
Lang may yer lum reek min!
Bran the Explorer Posted Sep 12, 2003
Fit like min! back at you. I was very interested to read your post. I guess I was being a little specific in that I really meant the Celtic group of languages, and not those dialectical variations that are Germanic-based in structure, like modern English variants in some counties, and your case of Lallans which I think is quite distinct. Is this like Doric? I have heard that this is spoken in the east of Scotland around Aberdeen. Or is Lallans a different language again?
Thanks so much for the post, I would love to hear more about this.
gammajonny Posted Sep 10, 2004
iPad Posted Apr 28, 2006
Central Europe as I understand it. The "Celts" once ran from Ireland to the black sea sandwiched between the Greeks/Romans and the Germans. The Romans, Germanic Tribes and Vikings/Saxons/Normans eventually left the last remnants of the "Celts" in Ireland then England invaded ending that.
The concept of the Celts is a highly artificial one. There was no one Celtic people, just a shared culture and many kingdoms, unlike the Romans for example. It was this dis-unity both in politics and military that led to the "Celts" downfall. There was a hint in the article, where the Roman Generals are banned from settling battles in single combat with the Celtic Cheiftens. This was with good reason, much of the Celtic culture focused on Warriors and that of the hero. The Roman focus was in the achievements of the armies as a whole. The Celtic Cheiftens were reputed for their extraordinary strength and skill in single combat and not neccessarily their tactics.
My personal interest in this subject comes from the fact my ancestor is Brian Boru, who was interesting the first and only king of the whole of Ireland ever...
The Celts... not an "artificial" concept
RenaC Posted Aug 10, 2010
The concept of the Celts is not artificial at all. It’s simply not the same as the concept of a nation, or an empire. They were indeed “unlike the Romans,” but that doesn’t make them unreal. “Just a shared culture and many kingdoms” is something quite interesting, and worth having a name for.
When the great anthropologist Alfred Kroeber studied Native American societies in California, one group he described was the Pomo people. They aren’t one tribe, much less a nation or empire. They lived in small hunting-gathering bands spread over a wide geographic area. Their related languages let anthropologists trace their cultural connections, see how culture and beliefs evolved as they moved into different environments and were influenced by groups with different cultural pasts, etc. That’s not “artificial.” Having ways to talk about linguistic and cultural groups is useful for people who like to understand human history and societies.
The Celts are particularly interesting because of how strong their cultural continuity has been. The Roman empire came and went, and the Celts are still around, still raising sheep and weaving plaids as they have for over 2000 years, and feeling a special respect for oak trees and hawthorn, though the goddess Brighid is generally known as a saint these days. Their clan structure survived until the 1600s in Ireland, until the 1700s in Scotland, took a second empire (Britain) to destroy, and isn’t totally gone yet.
The name “Celts” is somewhat arbitrary, as is “Indo-European,” or “Pomo people.” The Celts could equally well have been called the Keltoi, or the Gallicians, or some other version of one of their names could have been generalized. But the Celts are worth talking about, so a name has evolved.
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