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Etymology of Gaelic and Gaelic charastics

I am so glad that duolingo has forums as it is hard to find many people who know alot about brythonic or Gaelic etomogy outside of duolingo.

What features or words are we seeing on this Scottish Gaelic course that are from the brythonic pictish or caledonian languages and incorporated into Scottish gealic or from the pre-indo European languages of the British isles?

What linguistics evidences is their for a pre-Gaelic, brythanic substrate in Scottish or Irish gealic?

Gaelic languages have about a half dozen features that distinguish them from mainland Celtic languages. Including the VSO syntax. These features are also found in semetic languages of phoenicia, middle east and north Africa. Is there evidence for a pre-indoueropean substrate coming from semetic languages perhaps phoenicians? Or did the semetic language family extend into along the Atlantic coast before the coming of the indo-europeans? The phoenicians were great for sailing exploring very early on?

It is note worthy that DNA shows the mainland celts never invaded the British isles. The early people groups that originally populated the British isles at the end of the ice age are largely the same people that were their when the angel saxons and Norse showed up.

The I haplotype carried by most of the early inhabitants of the British isles shows they share a common genetic herritage and are closest related to semetic peoples (as aposed to indo-Europeans) arabs and Jews share the haplotype J. And I and J split from each other as opposed to R1b and R1a which is the genetic signature of indo Europeans. (Latin, Greek, Russian, Poles etc.)

Is it possible that semetic features are from the language spoken by the I haplytye inhabitantof the British isles?

Is it possible that the Gaelic and brythonic languages contain the remnants or are the remnants (though influenced by the indo-European languages?) Or is it possible it is the originally language spoken in the British isles by the original inhabitances and not an imported language that replaced the original language?

April 18, 2020



It is certainly possible that the insular Celtic languages were influenced by a pre-Indo-European substratum. Other European languages seem to have been influenced in such a way. For example, the English words "arena" and "person" both came from Latin loanwords that themselves were likely derived from Etruscan.

As for whether or not there was an insular Celtic substratum that was part of the Afro-Asiatic language family (which contains the Semitic languages), that seems to depend on who you ask. The main similarities cited by proponents of the hypothesis include VSO word order and conjugated prepositions. Linguists specializing in the Celtic languages have overwhelmingly insisted that the similarities between the two groups are superficial and coincidental, citing how VSO word order and conjugated prepositions have been found in languages all over the world. Others have suggested that the similarities are not because Afro-Asiatic languages influenced insular Celtic languages, but because they were both influenced by some stone age European-Mediterranean substratum.

Onto the genetic topics. The most common Y-DNA haplogroup (which indicates patrilineal descent) in the British Isles is the R1b haplogroup, which is also the most common Y-DNA haplogroup in France and Iberia.The R1b haplogroup seems to have originated somewhere is eastern Europe or Western Asia during the last ice age. It seems to have spread to western Europe as part of the Indo-European migration.

As for the I haplogroup you mentioned, is that Y-DNA or mtDNA (matrilineal)? The I Y-DNA haplogroup is most prevalent in the Balkans and Scandinavia and seems to have been brought there by a migration from the Middle East during the last ice age. While the haplogroup is present in Ireland, it is very much in the minority. Now the I mtDNA haplogroup is a weird one. It originated somewhere in the Middle East during the last ice age, and is now most prevalent in pockets in Kenya, Turkey, France, Croatia, and the British Isles (albeit in small proportions to other haplogroups). If you can puzzle out how that happened, I would very much like to know.

The Afro-Asiatic languages themselves likely originated a few thousand years after the last ice age. No one is entirely sure where this was (although the upper Nile seems to be the most popular suggestion).

In conclusion, my own non-expert opinion is that any similarity between the insular Celtic languages and the Semitic languages is coincidental. The genetic similarities that exist between the British Isles and the Middle East can be traced back to human migrations that significantly predate the emergence of the Semitic language family. It may be possible that some Cro-Magnon linguistic substrate managed to persist in both regions to the present day, but we will never know for sure.


My theory on why the I haplytype ends up in pockets from Turkey and the Balkans to the British isles is this...

  1. The declaration of abaroth (spelling?) By the Scottish I believe is based in fact. And may have been tracing the path of the I haplotype. They claimed to have started on the black sea coast on the fringes of Scythia which would have placed them in Georgia or close to Turkey. Paleo geneticist claim the western hunter gathers primarily I haplotype broke from the Caucasus hunter gathers who are primary found in cave sights in Georgia. Which would line up with the Scottish declaration of where they originated. Their path then by ship is like connecting the dots on where red heads have been historically been located and their descendants today have the I haplotype. They claim to have lived in Spain before going to the. British isles. This has also been confirmed by geneticist.

I think the memory of a lot of post ice age history from the ice age forward is recorded in ancient history we just haven't put two and two together, looking for clues in lingusitcs and genetics we may realizes that for example the western hunter gathers were mentioned in ancient history but we just didn't realize that was who they were talking about. .


We find that the ancient people of thrance were red heads with blue eyes Xenophanes of Colophon (l. c. 570 - c. 478 BCE) wrote "..Men make gods in their own image; those of the Ethiopians are black and snub-nosed, those of the Thracians have blue eyes and red hair."

Blue eyes was associated with the I haplotype in a ancient history... whether or not these people were originally a gealic people or not I don't know, but today there is I haplotype in the Balkans and they are probably the reason the I haplotype DNA is there and they are on the trail the Scottish declaration of abaroth laid out. Perhaps there is a connection.


I suspect the original three languages of Europe are 1.the proto gealic/brythonoc or an afroaslastic dialect, 2 proto Basque and 3 proto indo-Europeans probably a dialect of Luvian as that is the oldest indo-europeans language recorded. and based on the rate of divergence of Latin to spanish, french, etc. Greek Latin slavic and other indo-europeans languages would have merged into one language going backward in time at that rate about the time of the oldest luvian inscriptions. Thus they are probably a good example of proto Indo-European. Also note the two accounts of troy never mention translators between the Greeks and Trojans. (Troy's only inscriptions found was in luvian. Thus demonstrating that Greek and luvian dialects were intelligible, and the Welsh chronicall states that the trojan refuges skipped Greece and settled among the latins. Again an indo-europeans people. The lydians were closer and the etruscans were around but these were non-indo-europeans people. if Latin was a distinct foreign language to them there would have been no advantage over going to them and not the lydians .again demonstrating that Latin, Greek and luvian were one intelligible indo-european language at that time.


I really do find it intriguing that while luvian, and most other ancient indo-European languages are historically SOV (and their is cultural reasons in the kurgan culture I think can demonstrate a reason for this. Gealic retains the ancient pre/ non-indo-european VSO sentence structure.


And if you look at what the indo-european /yamnaya /R1b and R1a haplotype peoples brought into Europe, the concept of kings and slaves, metal working, horses and kurgan burials with grave goods clearly distinguishing between levels of society making a high importance of who people were and what they had. Their language reflects that putting the subject perhaps the king first, and then what he had perhaps his gold second.... what he did was left to last. These ancient indo-European languages were highly inflected meaning any word order would work. But SOV was preferred by choice based on what they felt was important. (old English was written both in SVO or SOV but SOV was preferred.)


And I strongly suspect old akadinian is the origin of semetic languages and predates the expansion of people into Europe. (Although populated with people speaking unrelated languages to semetic they have found C haplotype among the paleo lithic graves in Europe. C haplotype is predominantly found among canaanites. Showing early phonecians intrusion into Europe and a possible source for early semetic influence into European languages like Gealic. It was originally believed that the early stone or bronze age Mediterranean Mariners never ventured out of the Mediterranean beyond the pillars of Hercules. However last year National Geographic discovered massive evidence to the contrary. Large wooden meditrainian ships in quantities sailing into the Atlantic around the cost of Spain even as far as the Azores


Wow this discussion has been fascinating! Some Lockdown Enlightenment! Thank you all so much!


If anyone knows the answers to these questions I would appreciate it if they would share it. As it would enrich my learning and deepen my understanding of scottish gealic


The only comment I'd have is not to fall into the trap of equating groups of people with languages. It doesn't always work. Many of the migrations around the time of the so called Bronze Age "Völkerwanderung" or migration period were not so much hostile invasions, but small influential groups which exerted considerable economic, social and cultural, and eventually linguistic influences on local populations. Much of the advances of the time came with the advent of writing.

By the way, Breton is one of the insular Celtic Languages. Gaulish, a Continental Celtic Language didn't survive except for the occasional word in French, such as "briser" (to break) - compare with Gaelic briste. The English word car comes from Norman French, and prior to that, the Gaulish word "Carros" which meant a chariot. The word was borrowed into Latin (currus). Most of these words have entered French via the local variety of Vulgar Latin spoken there in early medieval times.

The Galician minority language from Spain has quite a few Continental Celtic linguistic fossils in it too.

The Scythian connection can be traced to some early mediaeval documents of questionable provenance. Some of it can be traced to Isidore of Seville. The Scythian origins theory is far from mainstream.

Let's just say that Mediaeval Kings in Early Christian times (Scots and Scandinavian alike) liked to boast family trees that went back to Adam.

The Scythian connection was related to that agenda.

Gaelic has a lot of borrowings from French - Seomar / chambre etc and some Latin and Norse (eg sgarbh/ skarva) . Pictish was probably Brythonic and similar to old Welsh. Some place names in Scotland have Pictish origins, and prefixes like "Strath" are cognate with words such as Straße in German. The first "roads" in prehistoric Europe followed river beds, hence the connection.

If DNA were in any way relevant to the discussion, most of the population of England would be speaking Welsh.

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