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Celtic languages compared?

I'm really interested in learning a Celtic language. From an outside perspective they all look extremely similar. So my questions for people that know one or many: How are the vocabulary and grammar similar and how and how are they different? Which has the most speakers? Are there native speakers?

December 24, 2019


[deactivated user]

    Why don't you sample 2 or 3 of the Celtic languages offered on DL? Just do a few levels or skills & see what you think of them? I'm enjoying them but finding them hard. I remember reading somewhere the Celtic languages being described as at the limits of what it is to be Indo-European. A lot of the structure seems to be very different. Irish, Gælic, Breton & Welsh all have native speakers. Cornish & Manx have a small group of people who have elected to raise their children from infancy in those tongues as a way of bringing the languages back from collapse. Breton or Welsh has the most native speakers (I think), but Irish has the greatest number of people who have at least some knowledge of the language.

    [deactivated user]

      Check out the book 'Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages' by Gaston Dorren. He writes short, extremely interesting & witty essays exploring the aspects of the languages he covers (including 6 Celtic ones) that avoid a lot of dense linguistic jargon.


      If you haven't already, definitely check out Omniglot's entries on these languages:

      And if you'd like to check out other Celtic languages in general:

      Hope this helps a bit. :) Best of luck!

      Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


      Welsh and Irish have the most speakers. Which has more depends on how you count them: Irish probably has more overall but Welsh has more first-language speakers. Even so, close to 100% of native speakers of both languages will also speak fluent English, so even if you go to areas where they is spoken you will have to make a point of using them.

      Breton and Scots Gaelic are endangered, and do not have a lot of speakers. Cornish and Manx are functionally extinct, despite attempts to revive them. Obviously three of those are not offered on Duolingo anyway.

      There are considered to be two groups of Celtic languages: Goidelic and Brythonic (there were previously more, but they've all been extinct for centuries). Brythonic languages are the native Celtic languages of Britain, and Goidelic languages the native Celtic languages of Ireland.

      Among surviving languages, Welsh, Cornish and Breton are all Brythonic. Irish and Scottish Gaelic are Goidelic (aka Gaelic) languages. So Irish and Scots Gaelic are more similar to each other than to Welsh.

      None of them are closely related to English and all of them present challenges to an English-speaker. However, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic do share more of a vocabulary with English, because of the historical relationship between the countries. So they are a little more accessible than Irish.

      Learn Scottish Gaelic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.