celtic languages

Celtic languages in Europe: three Gaelic languages and … 1/2

de NHU Brittany
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The Celtic languages which are spoken in Europe.

Celtic languages are some of the oldest languages spoken in Europe. They are a branch of the Indo-European language family.
There are six of them, which should be considered in two groups of three.
First of all, there are the Gaelic Celtic languages, which are Scots Gaelic, Irish and Manx. Manx is spoken on the Isle of Man, which sits between Ireland and Scotland.
Then we have the Brittonic Celtic languages, which are Welsh, Breton and Cornish. Cornish is spoken in Cornwall. We’ll talk about this in a future second article …

langues celtiques, celtic languages

Celtic languages ​​in Europe – Les langues celtiques en Europe

The Gaelic Celtic languages

Ireland’s Celtic Gaelic language (Gaeilge).

This is the only Celtic language which is the official language of a State. It’s also Ireland’s first official language, ahead of English. In addition, in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, Irish is officially recognised as a « regional language » by London. In fact, like many European democracies, Great Britain has signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Unlike the French central authority which is still refusing to do so, along with a few others like Turkey… Finally, Irish has also been an official language of the European Union since 2005.

An official Celtic language in the European Union.

Today, around 1.8 million Irish people have some knowledge of Irish. Some 70,000 people speak it on a daily basis, especially in the Gaeltacht, the west of Ireland where the people who live there reject English and favour their mother tongue.
Isn’t it surprising that a language which is spoken every day by just 70,000 is the first language of a state of 4.8 million people (a population identical to Brittany’s?).
And it’s an official European Union language?

Scots Gaelic (Gàidhlig).

This language came from Ireland then started to diverge from the Vth century onwards. The Gaelic alphabet only contains eighteen letters: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u. This differs from the Breton alphabet which has twenty five.
Initially, each letter corresponded to a tree: ailm for elm, coll for hazel and so on..
Today, around 60,000 Scots speak Scots Gaelic fluently.
The word whisky is Scottish, as we all know. It comes from Uisge-beatha, meaning water of life. But did you know that the word slogan is too? It comes from sluagh-ghairm
Thanks to Brexit, support for Scottish independence is growing and a second Celtic language could soon become an official European Union language.

Manx (Gaelg).

Only 2000 people speak this Celtic language on the little Isle of Man (Ellan Vannin), with its 572 square kilometres and some 85000 inhabitants. This Celtic language is closer to Scots Gaelic than Irish.
Ned Maddrell, who died in 1974, was the last native speaker of Manx. Manx is recognised as a regional language by the British government and all laws published on the Isle of Man are also published in Manx.

Soon, you can also find out about the Brittonic Celtic languages.

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