Celtic Team - Study Group

An area with study groups for various languages. Group members help each other, share resources and experience. Study groups are permanent but the members rotate and change.
David1917
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby David1917 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 2:06 pm

For those who have studied both Goldeic and Brythonic Celts - what's the interference like? I'm considering the Celtic family as an upcoming project for vaguely heritage reasons, and I want to begin with Irish and Cornish. I understand that the discount from one to the other is not great, but on the other hand, would learning both at the same time also be somewhat of an overly difficult task? Would we compare languages within the same branch to, say, Spanish and Italian, but across branches as French and Romanian? Any tips, advice, etc. are greatly appreciated!
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby IronMike » Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:02 pm

David1917 wrote:For those who have studied both Goldeic and Brythonic Celts - what's the interference like? I'm considering the Celtic family as an upcoming project for vaguely heritage reasons, and I want to begin with Irish and Cornish. I understand that the discount from one to the other is not great, but on the other hand, would learning both at the same time also be somewhat of an overly difficult task? Would we compare languages within the same branch to, say, Spanish and Italian, but across branches as French and Romanian? Any tips, advice, etc. are greatly appreciated!

Had no issues years ago when I went from a year of Cornish to a year of Irish. Understanding about consonant mutations and inflected prepositions helped me, thanks to Kernewek.

I wrote this somewhere else, but I highly recommend Kernewek Dre Lyther, which is pretty much free unless you want a tutor.
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:22 pm

David1917 wrote:For those who have studied both Goldeic and Brythonic Celts - what's the interference like? I'm considering the Celtic family as an upcoming project for vaguely heritage reasons, and I want to begin with Irish and Cornish. I understand that the discount from one to the other is not great, but on the other hand, would learning both at the same time also be somewhat of an overly difficult task? Would we compare languages within the same branch to, say, Spanish and Italian, but across branches as French and Romanian? Any tips, advice, etc. are greatly appreciated!


Across branches: minimal interference, minimal discount.
Within the same branch: possible interference, likely discount.

Speaking from a Goidelic point of view, my Irish has helped my comprehension of Gaelic. I still have too few hours of Gaelic (and no productive skills to speak of) to give a really good answer. And that's within the same branch, and the two closest languages. (I don't think the Brythonic languages are that similar to each other.) I only know one person who has learned all six.
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby David1917 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:25 pm

IronMike wrote:
David1917 wrote:For those who have studied both Goldeic and Brythonic Celts - what's the interference like? I'm considering the Celtic family as an upcoming project for vaguely heritage reasons, and I want to begin with Irish and Cornish. I understand that the discount from one to the other is not great, but on the other hand, would learning both at the same time also be somewhat of an overly difficult task? Would we compare languages within the same branch to, say, Spanish and Italian, but across branches as French and Romanian? Any tips, advice, etc. are greatly appreciated!

Had no issues years ago when I went from a year of Cornish to a year of Irish. Understanding about consonant mutations and inflected prepositions helped me, thanks to Kernewek.

I wrote this somewhere else, but I highly recommend Kernewek Dre Lyther, which is pretty much free unless you want a tutor.


I looked at this yesterday, and I'll definitely add it to my list. Thank you!
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby David1917 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:39 pm

jeff_lindqvist wrote:Across branches: minimal interference, minimal discount.
Within the same branch: possible interference, likely discount.

Speaking from a Goidelic point of view, my Irish has helped my comprehension of Gaelic. I still have too few hours of Gaelic (and no productive skills to speak of) to give a really good answer. And that's within the same branch, and the two closest languages. (I don't think the Brythonic languages are that similar to each other.) I only know one person who has learned all six.


That's good to know. I'd like to know Irish, Gaelic, and Cornish the most. I'd maybe add Welsh later on, and probably only look at Manx/Breton in the most passive manner. So I could, theoretically, begin right now with Irish and Cornish. At the point that I feel well-grounded in Irish, I could then branch into Gaelic, and likewise for Cornish to Welsh, should the opportunity present itself.

I finished editing the audio files of the Linguaphone Irish course yesterday, and put them on my phone for my walk this morning. I really enjoy the phonology so far. I'll probably not access the actual course until maybe August or September, but I like to plan (obsessively) in advance and gather materials/propose timelines.
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:22 am

David1917 wrote:I finished editing the audio files of the Linguaphone Irish course yesterday, and put them on my phone for my walk this morning.


Oh, I've planned to do that for years. Instead, I don't listen to my digitized audio at all. That course was my first real exposure to the Irish language. Apart from a few songs (Chieftains, Clannad, Dubliners, Enya) I hadn't heard the language at all, but felt I just had to learn it. Some of the first lessons have entered my long term memory. :)
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby David1917 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:17 pm

Well against my better judgement I began listening to Say Something in Cornish yesterday. Did Lesson 1 and then repeated it this morning.

My a vynn kewsel kernewek lemmyn!

Irish will continue to be shadowed but I won't start digging in until later this year.
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby Cèid Donn » Wed May 01, 2019 4:13 pm

While I don't wish to mute your enthusiasm, I honestly would not recommend shadowing any language before you have studied its grammar and phonology a bit. Simple passive listening would be better if you are new to any language. When I started to learn Scottish Gaelic, which was my first Celtic language, I simply listened to audio passively for about two months without even attempting to make the sounds, because I had never heard the language before. I've been studying Gaelic for about a decade now and i still think that was time well spent. I think we often get too impatient with approaching a new language and try to learn too much at once. Sometimes just spending the time to get to know a language before trying to really learn it is better in the long run.

I don't know if there's anyone else here who also has spent some time with all 6 Celtic languages, but I think I may be the only one, at least among the recently active users here. Unfortunately, my experience some of the languages is much more in-depth (Gaelic, Breton) than with others (Cornish), but I do know enough to grasp the general differences and similarities. I had previously considered making a specific thread here devoted to exploring this topic but I decided that interest in and appreciation for the Celtic languages was too low here to warrant the amount of work and time that would have required.

But since you asked specifically i can share a few bits.

David1917 wrote:Would we compare languages within the same branch to, say, Spanish and Italian, but across branches as French and Romanian? Any tips, advice, etc. are greatly appreciated!


I wouldn't compare the Celtic languages to the Romance family like that. These language groups evolved quite differently. The Celtic languages were all long rooted in their own Proto-Celtic origins and for many centuries were largely uninfluenced by other languages in any significant way nor did they "graft" their language onto existing vernacular languages the way Vulgar Latin did. This helped their modern forms to retain some very distinct syntactical and grammatical similarities with each other--VSO word order, no indefinite article, conjugated prepositions, initial mutations,etc.--despite divergence in vocabulary, phonology and orthography over time and geography.

I'll give you an example of a basic sentence in each language to help point out a couple of the similarities and differences (although one sentence will hardly be exhaustive on this topic).

I like that song.

GA: Is maith liom an t-amhrán sin
GD: 'S toil leam an òran sin
GV: S'mie lhiam yn arrane shen

KW: Da yw genev an gan na
BR: Ar ganaouenn-mañ a blij din
CY: Dw i'n hoffi'r gân yna



1) The words for "song"--amhrán/òran/arrane and kan/kanaouenn/cân--are obviously related within the two branches, despite clear orthographic changes. Note that in the Brittonic languages, they all have the same initial mutation following the definite article. Overall, you will frequently see common words within the two branches, and sometimes common words across all 6 of them. Often times there are commonalities between when to use an initial mutation, but not always the same mutation or for the same grammatical purpose.


2) All six languages use the same construction for expressing "this/that [noun]" that consists of definite article+noun+that/that

an t-amhrán sin
an òran sin
yn arrane shen

an gan na
ar ganaouenn-mañ
ar gân yna



3) Each language uses idiomatic constructions to express certain common actions, such as to like something. The Gaelic languages all use the copula (or assertive verb) is/'s/s' with an adjective (maith/toil/mie) and a conjugated pronoun (liom/leam/lhiam--"with me") to express liking:

Is maith liom
'S toil leam
S'mie lhiam


Here we see the Gaelic languages have largely remain close in this respect, but the Brittonic languages are a slightly different story:

Da yw genev -- this more or less means "Good is with me" with genev being the Cornish equivalent of the Gaelic liom/leam/lhiam

a blij din* --Breton has been slightly influenced by French here, as plij (which becomes blij following the particle a) comes from the French plaît, but the syntax is still Celtic. Din is another conjugated pronoun that means "to me" rather than "with me," so this means more literally "is pleasing to me"

* Note that this Breton construction to express liking follows the object in this particular sentence. Breton word order is probably the most fluid of 6 languages, but it still adheres to a VSO logic, as seen in the plij din/dit/denzhañ construction. The Celtic languages are rooted in a syntactical logic that likes use word order to focus on the most important data in a sentence--this is the heart of the Celtic VSO word order. Breton is more emphatic about this with constructions like this sentence that places the object at the front of a phrase even though the same thought can also be expressed in its regular VSO order just as well. (This can happen in the other Celtic languages too, just not as often as in Breton.)

Dw i'n hoffi (yr ydwyf fi yn* hoffi) -- For whatever reason, Welsh diverges a bit more on this simple expression than the other Celtic languages. Hoffi means sort of like "to find endearing" and the phrase Dw i'n hoffi that is often translated as simply "I like" means more like "I find endearing" if you dig into the etymology.** What's more notable is this common construction doesn't use a conjugated preposition, even though Welsh has conjugated prepositions just like the other Celtic languages--it's just for whatever reason, Welsh doesn't use it here and this phrase simply follows the standard VSO Celtic word order.

* this is the full, or literary, form which gets reduced to dw i'n in spoken Welsh (particularly in South Wales).

** In Welsh, one can also say Dw i'n licio to say "I like" but note that licio (also spelled leicio) is actually from the English word "like" and carries more or less the same connotation as the English word. Using either hoffi or licio changes nothing regarding syntax or word order.


This is of course just one, short sentence. As a starting point, I would say that the Gaelic languages are more similar to each other while the Brittonic languages diverge more, but that of course is an oversimplification. Things get more complicated the further into the languages you go. But you can see there are some obvious similarities and differences, and like with the example of Welsh here, even when you think they'll be similar, you can't always count on all of them following the pattern.
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby David1917 » Wed May 01, 2019 5:09 pm

First off, wow, what a post. There is so much in there for just one simple sentence, and I will certainly be re-reading this as time goes on. I really appreciate the time spent.

Cèid Donn wrote:This is of course just one, short sentence. As a starting point, I would say that the Gaelic languages are more similar to each other while the Brittonic languages diverge more, but that of course is an oversimplification. Things get more complicated the further into the languages you go. But you can see there are some obvious similarities and differences, and like with the example of Welsh here, even when you think they'll be similar, you can't always count on all of them following the pattern.


In theory, of course, I'd like to explore all six, and heck, I'd like a Pictish revival, too. But the sad reality is, there are only so many hours in a day. In this case, I'm thinking I'll do Cornish and Irish now, with Scottish Gaelic to follow soon after. Should travel to any of the other 3 regions present itself, then of course I will divert my focus for that time, but in the interim I'm going to try to be realistic.

While I don't wish to mute your enthusiasm, I honestly would not recommend shadowing any language before you have studied its grammar and phonology a bit. Simple passive listening would be better if you are new to any language. When I started to learn Scottish Gaelic, which was my first Celtic language, I simply listened to audio passively for about two months without even attempting to make the sounds, because I had never heard the language before. I've been studying Gaelic for about a decade now and i still think that was time well spent. I think we often get too impatient with approaching a new language and try to learn too much at once. Sometimes just spending the time to get to know a language before trying to really learn it is better in the long run.


I appreciate the feedback. I would say that this approach has worked for me pretty well so far with Persian and Hungarian, and seems to also be helpful in Arabic. I'm like, 50% passive when doing this, in that sometimes I'm walking through a crowd of people listening to some language, so I'll more mumble along, rather than attempt to articulate what I'm hearing. I just find it to be better for focusing on what I'm hearing. If I put it on and not doing anything to deliberately follow along, in no time I'm thinking about something else.
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Re: Celtic Team - Study Group

Postby IronMike » Wed May 01, 2019 6:39 pm

You people really are not helping. I so badly want to stick to only three languages this year, but reading this thread is making me really miss my Kernewek books...
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