Monday, 5 September 2011

British Celtic Origins

Descendants of Celts
The descendants of the Celts are populations either entirely or partly of Celtic origin. These populations either speak a Celtic language as their mother tongue, have some knowledge of a Celtic language, or descend from people who once spoke a Celtic language.

Place Names of Celtic Origin
Names of villages, towns and regions originating from Celtic can be found all over Britain and Ireland, and in parts of France, Spain, Italy and Serbia. However, among the few countries in the world bearing an official name that is Celtic in origin are Britain and Ireland, and three of the constituent countries of Britain, namely Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Gaelic name for Scotland is Alba, the Irish name for Ireland is Eire, and the Welsh name for Wales is Cymru. In England, a number of counties have names of Celtic origin, namely Kent, Cornwall, Devon and Cumbria, and another territory in the British Isles with Celtic origins is the Isle of Man.

Celtic Languages Spoken Today
There are only four countries in the world where a Celtic language is one of the official – or officially recognised – languages, these being Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales. In Scotland, the form of Celtic that is spoken is called Gaelic, and the three Celtic languages spoken in the British Isles are Gaelic, Irish and Welsh.

Another Celtic language, Breton, is spoken in parts of Brittany, the region of western France that in times of old maintained strong cultural ties with Cornwall and Wales.

Cornish and Manx-Gaelic are two Celtic languages that were commonly spoken, respectively in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, until the 18th century. Cornish is closely related to Breton and to Welsh, thus making it a Brythonic tongue, while Manx-Gaelic is closer to Scottish-Gaelic and to Irish, and therefore is part of the Goidelic group of languages.

Both Cornish and Manx are experiencing a revival in their native territory, where written literature has served to keep them alive, so that now people are beginning to speak the language of their Celtic ancestors in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, reviving the Celtic linguistic traditions of the British Isles, similar as in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Written by D. Alexander

Ancient Celtic history of Britain and Ireland.

Celtic Dover in Kent.

Photo: Dover in Kent, walking through history.

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