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V-X
11-03-2015, 04:10 AM
The linguistic aspect of celtic studies is of course an important one, but we would do well to pay attention to our own use of language because we can easily be fooled by our own brains.


Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.
Firstly, simply by giving the name celts (regardless of its ancient origin as a word) to a large group, we make it into a "thing" of some sort. Simply by having a name above and beyond Gauls, Britons and so on, we are giving them a common identity before checking whether there is one and our studies are always heading in that direction. If the Romans had used the word 'Flabbles' for all the "celtic" and "Germanic" tribes, and if they never used the words German and Celt, then we would be writing books today about "Who were the flabbles?", "Did flabblic culture arise in the neolithic?" and so on. Perhaps we wouldn't even differentiate all that much between the western and eastern flabbles. We would think differently! We risk brushing over the differences betwen people to fit our celtic narrative if we use the word uncritically.

I think our use of the word celt fits in very well with Wittgenstein and his description of how we use the word "games". As you read the following, imagine that he is talking about the word "celts" and the various types of celt and their features.

Consider for example the proceedings that we call "games". I mean board-games, card-games, ball-games, Olympic games, and so on. What is common to them all?—Don't say: "There must be something common, or they would not be called 'games' "—but look and see whether there is anything common to all.—For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at that. To repeat: don't think, but look!—Look for example at board-games, with their multifarious relationships. Now pass to card-games; here you find many correspondences with the first group, but many common features drop out, and others appear. When we pass next to ballgames, much that is common is retained, but much is lost. Are they all 'amusing'? Compare chess with noughts and crosses. Or is there always winning and losing, or competition between players? Think of patience. In ball games there is winning and losing; but when a child throws his ball at the wall and catches it again, this feature has disappeared. Look at the parts played by skill and luck; and at the difference between skill in chess and skill in tennis. Think now of games like ring-a-ring-a-roses; here is the element of amusement, but how many other characteristic features have disappeared! And we can go through the many, many other groups of games in the same way; can see how similarities crop up and disappear. And the result of this examination is: we see a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail. I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than "family resemblances"; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and criss-cross in the same way. And I shall say: 'games' form a family.

This of course is nothing new, and people have discussed "celt" as being such a family resemblance over the years. Nevertheless much of what passes as study of celts is useless discussion of what the essence of what a celt is, when just as with games, there is no essence. This is at best a distraction but at worst a kind of theory ladeness which can be very dangerous and set us on the wrong path. Worse, when reading the word celt used somewhere, we have a tendency to fall into the trap of assuming that it does in fact have a fixed meaning with some essential features. It seems obvious that a Roman writing in the 2nd century may mean something different with "celts" than what we may mean today, but it's trickier when dealing with more recent writers and the 'definition' in use isn't always explicit. We can easily come to the wrong conclusion about what has been said and cloud our thinking.



Consider the word breakfast. To understand this word is to understand the practice in our culture of having three meals a day.
So understanding the word breakfast means fitting it into a great deal of background knowledge; that's how we actually understand and use the word. There is no magical and concise "meaning". The first thing we need to escape from is the idea of words as having some sort of dictionary definition stored away in our heads, because that way of thinking is the bait that lures us into the trap. Semantic meaning is much more encyclopedic in nature.


Even those who insist that statements such as "A robin is a bird" and "A penguin is a bird" are equally true, have to admit different hedges applicable to statements of category membership.
Rosch is famous for prototype theory which is the idea that some members of a category are considered more central, whereas others are fringe cases. Pre-Roman Gauls are celts par excellence. Do we really need arguments about whether fringe members of the category, such as 5th century Romano-Britons, are celts or not? The whole thing is playing with words, when all we really care about is what features they do share with central members such as Gauls.

I think we can certainly move our thinking forward by splitting "celts" up a little bit. My advice is to never use the word celt where a more specific term will do, because even if there is an overaching pattern, we don't want to obscure the underlying complexity by using an unneccesary abstraction. At a more pragmatic level where we don't want to list every tribe just to avoid saying "Britons", we can certainly discuss things in terms of "core celts" and "fringe celts" which helps us to think without tripping over our tongues.

Jean M
11-03-2015, 05:22 PM
I define a Celt as a person speaking a Celtic language. This is a modern definition. It says immediately what these people have in common - i.e. a family of related languages. One can then go on to discuss what they did or didn't have in common culturally and genetically.

I great deal of time has indeed been wasted by Celtosceptics arguing over the proper use of the word. The name "Celtic" was adopted by modern scholars for the family of languages. It was the sensible choice, since it transcended tribe and geography. The name Keltoi (The Tall Ones) was bestowed by the Greeks upon various peoples they encountered. It was not restricted to the Gauls.

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Nor was it (as proposed by extreme Celtosceptics) a name bestowed upon any non-Greek north of the Mediterranean. Herodotus and other early Greek authors were well aware of a whole slew of peoples north of the Med, whom they were perfectly capable of distinguishing from each other. Keltoi was more specific than "random foreigner". However the Keltoi were far too widespread to be a single tribe. When the Roman geographers got busy, they found dozens of tribes with Celtic names in Gaul alone, and plenty more in the Isles. They also found Celtic tribes, personal names etc in Iberia. Greek and Roman historians were aware of Gauls moving down the Danube and into Illyria and Anatolia.

Jean M
11-03-2015, 05:24 PM
Pre-Roman Gauls are celts par excellence.

That is your assumption. Upon what is it based? We go back to definitions. The modern idea of the Celt intertwines three concepts:


The people called Keltoi by the Greeks
The ancient Celtic languages, and
The Hallstatt and La Tène archaeological cultures


The last of these arose from the identification of certain archaeological cultures with some Celts/Gauls as identified by Classical authors i.e. those noted around the head of the Danube, who expanded into the ken of the literate Romans by invading the Po Valley.

But these were not the only people identified by Greeks or Romans as Celts. Nor were they the only people speaking a language that we can now identify as Celtic.

V-X
11-03-2015, 06:11 PM
I define a Celt as a person speaking a Celtic language.

What if for example we discovered some writings at Hallstatt and they were written in some other language entirely? Are the Hallstatt people still celts or not? What about an Irish child kidknapped by vikings for some reason and forced to speak Norse, their first language forgotten over time? Still a celt? You would probably say so if we tested their DNA after finding it in Ireland without knowing about their Norse tongue. What about someone speaking an earlier proto-Celtic or Italo-Celtic language? What about where some sort of pidgin or creole celtic arises? What about babies even? If we discover some poor infant body from iron age Britain, are they a celt or not?

These are just a few potential issues with that type of definition (not that it isn't pragmatic to use it in various cases). Celtic languages aren't common to all the people you would call celts. The language is an important feature, just as flight is as a defining feature of birds; yet penguins are birds. In practice 'celtic' is defined in terms of family resemblance rather than specific essential features. What I am getting at is that we can be aware of how we are going about using words to avoid that type of timewasting you mentioned.


That is your assumption. Upon what is it based?
It was just an attempt at finding an equivalent of "robin" to further explain.

David Mc
11-03-2015, 06:27 PM
Jacques Derrida has a lot to answer for...

Jean M
11-03-2015, 06:28 PM
What if for example we discovered some writings at Hallstatt and they were written in some other language entirely? Are the Hallstatt people still celts or not?

That is not going to happen, my philosophical friend. ;)


What about an Irish child kidknapped by vikings for some reason and forced to speak Norse, their first language forgotten over time? ....

As I say in Blood of the Celts:


MacNeill's definition of a Celt was an ancient person known to have spoken a Celtic language. That is the principle followed in this book, though I see no reason to exclude modern Celtic speakers. The terms Insular Celts and Continental Celts are used to distinguish between those who inhabited the British Isles and those who lived on the continent of Europe.

What place does genetics have in this? We find correlations between languages and DNA signatures. The reason is that children usually learn their first language from their biological parents. Biology and language do not always go hand in hand. A child could be adopted, or could have parents of two different language origins and so could grow up speaking a completely different language from that of one or both biological parents. Then there are the seismic shudders through society that leave whole populations speaking a different language. Even so, the link between language and DNA occurs often enough for us to see patterns in the data.


What about someone speaking an earlier proto-Celtic or Italo-Celtic language?

Proto-Celtic is Celtic. ;) I do feel that it is reasonable to argue for a common ancestor to the Italic and Celtic language families. That ancestor would pre-date Celtic and should not be seen as Celtic. Languages have parents and grand-parents, but linguists are precise in how they define a language. It is not the same as its parent.


Celtic languages aren't common to all the people you would call celts.

But yes they are, if my definition of a Celt is a person speaking a Celtic language. I have no objection to non-Celtic speakers descended from historic Celtic speakers identifying themselves as Celts, if they so choose. But that is not really my concern in writing about the historic Celts and their origins.

V-X
11-03-2015, 06:43 PM
Proto-Celtic is Celtic.


linguists are precise in how they define a language. It is not the same as its parent.

These two statements contradict each other.

All that you are doing is arbitarily deciding that at a certain point it IS celtic but before that it wasn't, which is more or less the same as saying that the bronze age started on some particular Wednesday afternoon.

You are arbitrarily dividing the world into celts and non-celts, when in fact there are very fuzzy boundaries and lots of complicated overlapping. Now I'm not saying that you have made any mistakes as a result of that, but sooner or later somebody probably will, and of course the arguments caused by that way of thinking are already going on.

rncambron
11-03-2015, 11:06 PM
Great to see Wittgenstein intruding on here.Makes a change from the deterministic dogma usually presented.The present chroniclers of the past interpret the past to suit their view of the present.
Anyone read the Sunday Times Culture review article on the BM Celtic exhibition?
How about:
I'm a male living in a hovel in what is now known as France.My Chief tells me I have to go with him to fight a tribe from the south;(we have a name for them but I don't understand it), which is threatening my livelihood and by the way I might get rich when we slaughter them.My Chief tells me our next door neighbours, normally our enemies, are also going because the tribe from the south is bad news so we have to fight together with our neighbours.
It's called,in modern historical parlance, external pressures causing ethnogenesis.
Back to hovel man.Am I a Celt?Never heard of it.

Jean M
11-03-2015, 11:06 PM
All that you are doing is arbitarily deciding that at a certain point it IS celtic but before that it wasn't...

I take it that you have no training in linguistics. :) I'm not deciding anything. Linguists do that. There is nothing arbitrary about their classifications. They follow rules. Languages are always changing. For linguists Proto-Celtic is the parent language of the Celtic family, in the state immediately prior to its break-up into daughter languages. That will be some considerable time after the group which first broke away from the Proto-Indo-European speaking body. As the group moved so far away that they could no longer communicate on a daily basis with the PIE parent group, the two languages would start to diverge, starting with the sort of differences that would be classed a dialect and moving gradually to the point where the child group could be classed as speaking a different language.

Here's an Indo-European language tree:

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Gravetto-Danubian
11-04-2015, 12:42 AM
I define a Celt as a person speaking a Celtic language. This is a modern definition. It says immediately what these people have in common - i.e. a family of related languages. One can then go on to discuss what they did or didn't have in common culturally and genetically.

I great deal of time has indeed been wasted by Celtosceptics arguing over the proper use of the word. The name "Celtic" was adopted by modern scholars for the family of languages. It was the sensible choice, since it transcended tribe and geography. The name Keltoi (The Tall Ones) was bestowed by the Greeks upon various peoples they encountered. It was not restricted to the Gauls.

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Nor was it (as proposed by extreme Celtosceptics) a name bestowed upon any non-Greek north of the Mediterranean. Herodotus and other early Greek authors were well aware of a whole slew of peoples north of the Med, whom they were perfectly capable of distinguishing from each other. Keltoi was more specific than "random foreigner". However the Keltoi were far too widespread to be a single tribe. When the Roman geographers got busy, they found dozens of tribes with Celtic names in Gaul alone, and plenty more in the Isles. They also found Celtic tribes, personal names etc in Iberia. Greek and Roman historians were aware of Gauls moving down the Danube and into Illyria and Anatolia.

Good definitions, and it helps for the study of all groups - not just celts but also Slavs or Germani. I
I agree that a Celt had more than a very generic meaning (one north of the Mediterranean); but it is also worth considering if for Romans and Greeks "Celt" was a linguistic term as it is for us today, or if it meant something social / organisational - those from a warrior society. The meaning
of the term might have varied through different authors, contexts and periods.

Certainly recent perspectives from EE on the appearance of celts and galati have asked if Celts in Pannonia descending through the dinaric heartland weren't just more or less local tribes who had adopted the imagery and customs of a La Tene warrior .

(This might be influenced by the immobilist views which have permeates through all anglophone and western influenced scholars, but it certainly doesn't stem from a sense of "touchiness". In fact, the study of celts in EE is a popular topic (with journals like Celto-Slavica) and a rather welcome prospect that E Europeans might have a 'wee bit of celtic' in them).

Jean M
11-04-2015, 09:42 AM
Good definitions, and it helps for the study of all groups - not just celts but also Slavs or Germani..

Yes I use it for those groups too in Ancestral Journeys.


but it is also worth considering if for Romans and Greeks "Celt" was a linguistic term as it is for us today, or if it meant something social / organisational

From my recent lecture at GGI:


Caesar famously said that Gaul was divided into three parts. The people in each part were distinguished by language, customs and laws from the others. The Aquitani lived in south-west Gaul and spoke a language that we can now identify as a precursor of Basque. The Belgae lived in north-east Gaul, and were relatively recent arrivals from across the Rhine. The Galli (Gauls to us), lived in the rest. So the terms Galli, Belgae and Aquitani were one step up from tribal. They denoted an ethnicity. That is not the same as a nation. Far from it. Tribes could fight each other, shouting insults at each other in the very same language. There was no long-term, central political control in Gaul until Caesar brought it all into the Roman Empire.

The takeaway message is that language was important to the ancients in defining identity. Naturally they had no such thing as a linguist in modern terms. But any trading nation needs to communicate and the Romans had translators. So they were not merely aware that there were people in Europe who did not speak Latin. They knew that Greek was different from Celtic. And so on. Not that they were invariably spot on in modern terms. Caesar thought that the Belgae spoke a language different from the Gauls. Modern linguists perceive little difference, going by place and personal names, so maybe it was more of a dialect difference.

Obviously I was putting things as quickly and simply as possible. To discuss this topic fully would take at least a paper, and possibly a book. I would want to include ethnonyms and words for foreigner that suggest that the "in" and "out" groups were defined by language, for example the well-known "barbarian" from Greek barbaros "foreign, strange, ignorant," from PIE root *barbar- echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (compare Sanskrit barbara- "stammering," also "non-Aryan," Latin balbus "stammering," Czech blblati "to stammer"). http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=barbarian

V-X
11-04-2015, 09:45 AM
There is nothing arbitrary about their classifications.

Unless you believe that people spoke late PIE every day until one morning they woke up and suddenly their language had magically changed into proto-celtic overnight and they were celts, then you are making an arbitrary cutoff. Clearly the change between those stages was a centuries long development and there was no sharp cutoff point. During that development, under your definition it isn't clear when someone is or isn't a celt. You have fallen into the sorites paradox. The same applies to any creole languages that developed at the edges of celtic territory.

Jean M
11-04-2015, 10:03 AM
Unless you believe that people spoke late PIE every day until one morning they woke up and suddenly their language had magically changed into proto-celtic overnight and they were celts, then you are making an arbitrary cutoff.

Not arbitrary. I repeat, linguists make the rules. The definition of Celtic includes several sound changes from PIE, the most notable being the loss of the initial letter p, generally considered definitive. So a person using the word "porkos" (piglet) was speaking PIE. A person using the word "porcus" (piglet) was speaking Latin. A person using the word "orc" (piglet) was speaking Middle Irish, from which we can reconstruct the word "orcos" (piglet) for Proto-Celtic.

Such a sound change would not happen overnight exactly, but would be adopted fairly rapidly within a constantly inter-communicating group.

Where a language is the parent of a family, then all the descendant languages are considered of that family, even if certain sound changes defining the parent are reversed. The letter 'p' reappeared in Modern Irish, but it is of course considered Celtic, and indeed Indo-European.

V-X
11-04-2015, 10:04 AM
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It would be easier if reality was as clear cut as the bottom bar shows, and it's often pragmatic to describe things in that way because we want to be clear and we don't want to have to point out all the exceptions. But whether we are dealing with the development as celtic as a seperate language and culture, whether we are dealing with the romanisation of Britain, it's like the top option shows. Celt cannot be rigorously defined according to any common feature that all celts have. It's simply a case of family resemblance just like "games". I'm not saying celts don't exist, just as I'm not saying games don't exist.

Gravetto-Danubian
11-04-2015, 11:16 AM
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It would be easier if reality was as clear cut as the bottom bar shows, and it's often pragmatic to describe things in that way because we want to be clear and we don't want to have to point out all the exceptions. But whether we are dealing with the development as celtic as a seperate language and culture, whether we are dealing with the romanisation of Britain, it's like the top option shows. Celt cannot be rigorously defined according to any common feature that all celts have. It's simply a case of family resemblance just like "games". I'm not saying celts don't exist, just as I'm not saying games don't exist.

Good analogy. Im sure few might disagree that languages weren;t wholly bounded, and can be alikened to the genetic cline seen in modern Europeans. This is further complicated by the fact that linguistic diversity was not alwasy clinal, but at times a checkerboard of diversity due to local expansions, wars, and migrations. Finally, we should also be aware the multilinugality was common. This is not to say that the average soil tiller was a professed plurilinguist, but certain languages might have been used as a common tongue amongst broad, diverse communities, eg warriors and Celtic. That is to say, originally non-Celts could speak Celtic.

If the Romans could readily distinguish between a Greek and a Gaul in southern France, how would they fare in distinguishing between the now extinct IE languages further north which might be deemed para-Celtic and para-germanic at the same, but possibly still neither Celtic nor Germanic ?

jdean
11-04-2015, 11:16 AM
It would be easier if reality was as clear cut as the bottom bar shows

Maybe you could illustrate your argument with a modern example.

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V-X
11-04-2015, 11:44 AM
Maybe you could illustrate your argument with a modern example.

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There are plenty of modern examples of people who aren't fully in the red or the green.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-based_creole_languages

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Is someone who speaks English "not well" an English speaker or not?

jdean
11-04-2015, 11:59 AM
There are plenty of modern examples of people who aren't fully in the red or the green.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-based_creole_languages

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Is someone who speaks English "not well" an English speaker or not?

This is an example of people who aren't speaking there first language, presumably when linguists classify a culture they would focus on the native language ?

Jean M
11-04-2015, 12:02 PM
It would be easier if reality was as clear cut as the bottom bar shows, and it's often pragmatic to describe things in that way because we want to be clear and we don't want to have to point out all the exceptions.

The general principle that scientific classification may not be a perfect reflection of reality is not contested by me. What I have contested is your attempt to make this a support for the Celtosceptic position.

I suspect that your underlying concern is that my definition (purely linguistic) allied to the genetics could lead to people defining Celtic in genetic terms. I too would be extremely concerned about that. It is exciting to see the correlation between language and DNA that indicate a human migration carrying a language. But we should not get carried away. There are two common mistakes that can arise:


Assuming that genetics can date languages. The realisation that a particular Y-DNA haplogroup is correlated with a language family can lead to the idea that the language was spoken by the earliest common ancestor of the haplogroup. For example the joint modern distributions of R1a and R1b are correlated with the historic spread of the Indo-European languages. So some have been tempted to suppose that Proto-Indo-European arose with the first R1 males. R1 is currently dated to about 23,729 years ago. This is impossible. Proto-Indo-European can be dated on its lexicon to no earlier than about 4000 BC in its earliest phase. DNA does not dictate the language someone speaks. Language is learned and develops independently of Y-DNA mutations. The greater than chance correlation occurs simply because children usually learn their first language from their parents.
Assuming that greater than chance correlation = one-to-one correspondence. It doesn't. Very far from it. No language or ethnic group is likely to be composed of men all of the same haplogroup for longer than a family of one or two generations, except in the case of extremely isolated cases. In general human beings mix with their neighbours. So an ethnic group will pick up a variety of Y-DNA haplogroups over time. Males may marry in from other linguistic groups and their children learn the maternal language. So a man today could carry R1b-L21 (strong signature of the Insular Celts) and yet have a Galician surname and speak Galician (Galego) and identify himself as 100% Galician. Haplogroup does not define identity.

V-X
11-04-2015, 12:07 PM
This is an example of people who aren't speaking there first language, presumably when linguists classify a culture they would focus on the native language ?

Fair enough but that doesn't apply to the creole languages part, or to the people who are truly bilingual and learnt both Spanish and English to native level from birth.

Anyway, would you seriously say to someone "You can't be British because Polish is your first language" or even "you can't be Welsh because Welsh isn't your first language"?

Language is an important part of ethnicity and culture, but it isn't by any means the only part, so why would we classify people based solely on their language? Culture and ethnicity are cases of family resemblance only and patchworks of similarities.

Jean M
11-04-2015, 12:14 PM
Is someone who speaks English "not well" an English speaker or not?

English is now an international lingua franca. In the modern age, Colonial languages have spread widely across the globe. The means of spread has included modern communications, state formation and compulsory education. In the ancient world we have some fairly close parallels (though without television and the Internet!) for example the spread of Latin in the Roman Empire. This is very different from the prehistoric spread of languages, which could only be by migration and/or assimilation.

A definition of groups by language is appropriate for prehistory and most of early history, but of course does not fit the modern world. I think it best to allow present-day people to define their own identities as they think fit. Those identities can be very complex. For example some Spanish-speakers in the Americas might define themselves as predominantly or wholly Native American.

V-X
11-04-2015, 12:16 PM
What I have contested is your attempt to make this a support for the Celtosceptic position.

I am not saying that celts don't exist. My family exists, but we don't all share one particular trait.


I suspect that your underlying concern is that my definition (purely linguistic) allied to the genetics could lead to people defining Celtic in genetic terms.

My underlying concern is that by sticking to definitions that rely on old theories of semantics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_semantics#Points_of_contrast), we are limiting our thinking.

One possible consequence (but by no means the only one) is that if we think in terms of boxing celts off based on some supposed common feature, then we are likely to focus on intergroup similarities and ignore the common ground with other cultures.

V-X
11-04-2015, 12:17 PM
identities can be very complex

Exactly. Is this somehow not true of celts?

Jean M
11-04-2015, 12:19 PM
Anyway, would you seriously say to someone "You can't be British because Polish is your first language" or even "you can't be Welsh because Welsh isn't your first language"?

As I suspected, your concern is with modern-day identities. Nationality is well-understood today. The rules governing whether or not a person is considered a national vary from country to country. However the modern nation-state is a relatively new form of social organisation and irrelevant to perceptions of identity in prehiatory.

V-X
11-04-2015, 12:23 PM
As I suspected, your concern is with modern-day identities.

Not at all. I am not interested in that and merely responded to the request for a modern example. I don't care who does and doesn't classify themselves as English, American, Polish, Celtic or otherwise.

Jean M
11-04-2015, 12:27 PM
Exactly. Is this somehow not true of celts?

If we are talking about those modern-day people who speak a living Celtic language as a first language, or those people who do not speak a Celtic language, but had ancestors who did, then they have potential layers of self-identification, just as other modern people do. A person could be American (US) by nationality, a proud New Yorker and even prouder to join a St Patrick's Day parade by virtue of his Irish surname. :)

rms2
11-04-2015, 12:29 PM
I get the feeling that a whole lot of the English language would go down the drain if minute precision were required before using it.

Why is it the Celts whose identity is constantly fretted over? One never sees or hears this sort of pettifoggery about Slavs, Germans, Hottentots, or whomever else.

Jean M
11-04-2015, 12:30 PM
N I don't care who does and doesn't classify themselves as English, American, Polish, Celtic or otherwise.

So we are in agreement on something. :)

V-X
11-04-2015, 12:38 PM
So we are in agreement on something. :)
I'm sure you get plenty of people worrying about showing that THEY are "celtic" on a forum like this. I am not one of them and it's an irrelevance to this thread.

What we agree on is that celts are a real group of people. I think we also agree that defining celt is not always clear cut, and that different groups of people have overlapping traits and complex identities and relationships.

I also agree that for pragmatic reasons it can often be useful to say that celt = ancient celtic speaker. But if we want to be a little more scientific, then clearly it isn't a definition that is always suitable, and it can sometimes even be a problem to define it in that way.

What we probably disagree on is that I think we should move towards defining celt more as a type of family resemblance rather than according to some dictionary definition. We need to introduce it as a concept that captures the complexity of the real world and teaches people to think in terms of the grey areas rather than in some artificial black and white way.

jdean
11-04-2015, 12:38 PM
Fair enough but that doesn't apply to the creole languages part, or to the people who are truly bilingual and learnt both Spanish and English to native level from birth.

Anyway, would you seriously say to someone "You can't be British because Polish is your first language" or even "you can't be Welsh because Welsh isn't your first language"?

Language is an important part of ethnicity and culture, but it isn't by any means the only part, so why would we classify people based solely on their language? Culture and ethnicity are cases of family resemblance only and patchworks of similarities.

But I don't have to classify people who live in Britain, they can do that for themselves. Unfortunately we can't ask people living in the Alps x thousand years ago how they identified themselves.

V-X
11-04-2015, 12:43 PM
Unfortunately we can't ask people living in the Alps x thousand years ago how they identified themselves.

And is their language the only thing we know about them?

If not, why would we only use that one aspect of their identity to define them?

Let me put it another way. Does someone living in 2000BC and speaking whatever version of celtic have more in common with someone living in 300AD who also speaks celtic than they do with someone who lives in 2000BC but 50 miles away, where they have a very similar lifestyle but speak a different language?

Jean M
11-04-2015, 01:58 PM
And is their language the only thing we know about them?

The definition of Celtic by language does not preclude describing cultural similarities or dissimilarities both within the Celtic sphere, or between Celts and other groups. Nor does it preclude describing both cultural and linguistic development and change over time. I did exactly that in Blood of the Celts. All history is a mixture of continuity and change. Peoples do not remain eternally the same; languages do not remain the same; cultures do not remain the same.

This does not prevent us from picking out a particular strand in history or prehistory to follow. For example many books are written about the history of a particular nation. Since we now live in nation states, modern readers are interested in their particular patch of ground and what happened in it. The definition by geography can be a bit of a problem for the historian, since the boundaries of many nations have been rather fluid. But they manage. They can explain.

Gravetto-Danubian
11-05-2015, 01:21 AM
What historians highlight these days is that difficult to truly get behind the interpretatio Romana. Sure, Romans had some ethnographic knowledge of the barbarians with which they dealt, but I don't think they could, or were bothered to, distinguish between different but related IE idioms of temperate Europe. From both an etic and emic perspective, language was not the main operating determinant of one’s ethnicity or identity, and as Thurston relays “[some have proposed] that the Greek term Keltoi was merely an ancient ethnocentrism that describes many different non-Greek and non-Roman groups under one erroneous rubric.” We have evidence that at certain junctures and locales, the main level of identity was the of the local village, or clan, and even when more distant connections were expressed (in say funerary accompaniments) it was to communicate something about one's status more than anything.

This is not to deny that Celtic was indeed spoken widely over large areas of Europe by the latter Iron Age – it most certainly was. There is (at least IMO) nothing wrong with calling the vast and diverse people's from Britain to Bulgaria “Celts”- given that they did indeed speak Celtic at least for the most part (even if as some kind of koine language), and it's a more convenient term than 'non-Mediterranean, non-Nordic, west of Russia, Iron Age Europeans'.

But even in accepting a purely linguistic definition, where does one draw the linguistic line in the sand ? Language areas were fluid, clinal, checkered, and much more. Should people in southern Netherlands or the eastern Alps (prior to the Gallic-Bioan expansion) whose language only shared some very basal similarities to Celtic (based on a common western IE rooting) be also called ‘Celtic’ ? And how should we refer to a hypothetical group in central Europe which maintained a different language be called 'Celtic' just because the overwhelming majority of people in the La Tene cultural zone did speak Celtic ?

Just some philosophical questions :)

razyn
11-05-2015, 04:39 AM
From both an etic and emic perspective, language was not the main operating determinant of one’s ethnicity or identity

Those are perspectives I have not heard in a very long time. I kind of think folklorists stole those suffixes from linguists in the first place, and other branches of (or disciplines within) anthropology have subsequently found them useful, standing alone. Props to Bill Jansen and Alan Dundes, mainly.

smokobob
11-05-2015, 05:05 AM
As a point of interest, regarding the term "celt" - does anyone realise that over the last 200 years and more, the term "indian" has been referred to American Red Indian, West Indian, East Indian, Indian Indian, in fact, arguably, all "non white" human beings were referred to by "white" nations as "indians", (or "natives") - even though we all descend from Africa. Food for thought.
'Hope I have not sounded politically incorrect by using words of a language in flux.

Gravetto-Danubian
11-05-2015, 06:46 AM
Those are perspectives I have not heard in a very long time. I kind of think folklorists stole those suffixes from linguists in the first place, and other branches of (or disciplines within) anthropology have subsequently found them useful, standing alone. Props to Bill Jansen and Alan Dundes, mainly.

I'm not familiar with "folklorists", but I think such concepts were developed by anthropologists like Ian Hodder, the Cohens, etc

V-X
11-05-2015, 08:07 AM
The definition of Celtic by language does not preclude describing cultural similarities or dissimilarities both within the Celtic sphere

No but it does promote a certain way of thinking. There's been a huge a amount of research across linguistics, psychology and cognitive science in the ways that language use shapes our thought, so I don't think you should reject the idea out of hand.

If you trust linguists in the area of historical linguistics, it seems only natural to consider what they have to say in the area of semantics. Two of the people I quoted in my initial post in this thread, Eleanor Rosch and Charles Fillmore, are very highly respected linguists. These papers are good expositions of their thought, on framing (http://www.icsi.berkeley.edu/pubs/ai/framesemantics76.pdf) and family resemblances (http://matt.colorado.edu/teaching/categories/rm75.pdf).

Jean M
11-05-2015, 09:14 AM
What historians highlight these days is that difficult to truly get behind the interpretatio Romana. Sure, Romans had some ethnographic knowledge of the barbarians with which they dealt, but I don't think they could, or were bothered to, distinguish between different but related IE idioms of temperate Europe.

This is the beauty of the modern definition by language. It removes us from reliance upon Roman or Greek ideas. With the Scientific Revolution we moved beyond the knowledge base passed down to us by Classical authors. While I would not discard it, it needs to be treated critically. We have resources now such as modern linguistics, including place-name analysis, archaeology and genetics, which were not available to Classical scholars. We should be aware that:


Their knowledge was geographically limited. They knew little of the eastern Baltic, for example. The concept of the Baltic language group is modern. (The term was not used in antiquity.) It relies upon linguistic evidence, including place-name evidence. We can attempt to marry that to archaeological and genetic evidence to achieve an understanding of a people otherwise lost in prehistory until the first written attestation of a Baltic language in the Middle Ages.
Their knowledge was chronologically limited. They did not have the means to access their own past from long before literacy. They filled the gap with myth, as many other peoples have done. In some cases the mythology provides clues to perceived ethnic relationships, but again it needs to be treated critically.




as Thurston relays “[some have proposed] that the Greek term Keltoi was merely an ancient ethnocentrism that describes many different non-Greek and non-Roman groups under one erroneous rubric.”

Yes that is the John Collis mark II Celtoscepticism, which I didn't address directly in Blood of the Celts, but mentioned briefly in my recent lecture:


Nor was it (as proposed by extreme Celtosceptics) a name bestowed upon any non-Greek north of the Mediterranean. Herodotus and other early Greek authors were well aware of a whole slew of peoples north of the Med, whom they were perfectly capable of distinguishing from each other. Keltoi was more specific than "random foreigner".

In short Keltoi was a term was used for people who turn out to have a Celtic language once we lay hands on linguistic evidence. It was not used for Illyrians, Thracians, Getae, Iberes, Ligurians, Latins, Umbrians, Scythians, etc.

Not that this is desperately important, since we now have the modern definition by language. We choose to use the name borrowed from the Greek for the language family, but a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. :)

Jean M
11-05-2015, 10:38 AM
No but it does promote a certain way of thinking.

Science depends on classification. It provides a framework for research, comparison, discussion and debate. We have to have a name for a thing and a clear definition of it, before we can examine and describe and discuss it. It is not that scientists are clueless people who have not the faintest idea of the problems of classification. Some of them are dealing constantly with those problems. One currently in the news is the scientific name for the Neanderthal species. Should it be reclassified from Homo neanderthalensis to Homo sapiens neanderthalensis?

Archaeological theorists have raged for half a century against the classification of material remains into cultures, but the concept is too useful to discard, as I point out in Ancestral Journeys:


The whole concept of an 'archaeological culture' came under attack along with the idea of migration. Indeed it is a concept that needs handling with care. Sites in one region may overlap in burial practice with those in a neighbouring region, while being distinctive in their pottery. How many features in common allow us to talk of a culture? Technologies and tastes evolve. At what point do we decide that a new label is appropriate?


The cultures that ethnographers study are not pure, pristine entities developing in a vacuum. Rather, they are almost always hybrids, fissioning or coalescing, assimilating or modifying the customs of the neighbouring peoples with whom they constantly interact. Cultures are not primordial entities or essences once crystallised in time and then remaining forever the same; they are never made, but always in the making.
Yet despite half a century of onslaught upon the notion, 'archaeological culture' remains firmly in place as the framework of prehistory. No better alternative presents itself. 'Culture' is far too useful to discard, but we need to be aware that usage of this term varies. What one person sees as a culture, another may want to divide into dizzying numbers of tiny cultures scarcely larger than a couple of villages. As with so much else in archaeology, culture is in the eye of the beholder.

The problems of classification by material culture are actually greater than classification by language.

V-X
11-05-2015, 11:54 AM
We have to have a name for a thing and a clear definition of it.

I am not suggesting that we discard the term, only that our definition needs to be flexible enough to be practical. I agree that celtic language is an important aspect, but it isn't necessary, and it isn't sufficient either. I am using necessary and sufficient there in the formal sense, and the same is true of other potential criteria such as material culture and so on.

Jean M
11-05-2015, 12:44 PM
I agree that celtic language is an important aspect, but it isn't necessary, and it isn't sufficient either.

Only if you take a different view of the Celts from myself. A definition is not the same as a description. I have chosen a definition which enables me to cover all the historic speakers of Celtic languages. In this definition is no implication that some Celts were/are more Celtic than others. It does not restrict me to people of just one place and time, or one archaeological culture. It is therefore the least restrictive definition of those in common use by academic writers.

Of course many non-Celtic speaking people today identify themselves as Celts on the basis of ancestry. That is not a problem for me. But I don't actually need to include it in my definition, any more than I need to include the modern English of England in my definition of Anglo-Saxons, and it would frankly be madness to do so. If someone today calls himself an Anglo-Saxon, we don't expect him to recite Beowulf. It is understood as a reference to ancestry.

V-X
11-05-2015, 05:42 PM
I have chosen a definition which enables me to cover all the historic speakers of Celtic languages.
Including 19th century Bretons, which doesn't seem right, but excluding any 1st century Britons who spoke Latin even if they were otherwise not romanized, which doesn't seem right either. The wrong people are excluded and included in some cases. Those Britons by the way are less celtic than their 4th century BC ancestors, while still being celtic.

The irony is that you are already defining celts by family resemblance. Given how it stretches over such a wide territory and time scale, it's unlikely that there are many features common to absolutely all celtic speakers and used in an identical fashion, so it's by family resemblance that we define the celtic language family. So why group people based on family resemblance only regarding their syntax and lexicon, rather than expanding it to include other information you have such as material cultures, genetics and religious belief systems?

Jean M
11-05-2015, 06:16 PM
Including 19th century Bretons, which doesn't seem right, but excluding any 1st century Britons who spoke Latin even if they were otherwise not romanized, which doesn't seem right either.

You want 19th-century Bretons excluded? :biggrin1: Modern Bretons would be rather peeved! Brittany is one of the six modern 'Celtic nations' of the Celtic League: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_League . Brittany hosts the big Inter-Celtic Festival held at Lorient. I met one of its organisers in Dublin. He invited me to the one next year: http://www.brittanytourism.com/to-see-to-do/events/brittany-s-main-events/festival-interceltique-de-lorient-august-2016

Jean M
11-05-2015, 06:33 PM
The irony is that you are already defining celts by family resemblance. Given how it stretches over such a wide territory and time scale, it's unlikely that there are many features common to absolutely all celtic speakers and used in an identical fashion, so it's by family resemblance that we define the celtic language family. So why group people based on family resemblance only regarding their syntax and lexicon, rather than expanding it to include other information you have such as material cultures, genetics and religious belief systems?

Because that would make the definition more restrictive and illogical. This is the way classification works:

The object is a dinner plate. Definition - a roughly flat object designed for eating from.

So now we can make observations. Some plates are green. Some plates are blue. Some plates are patterned. Some plates are ceramic, and can be bought in a set with other ceramic objects. Other plates are plastic and can be bought in a hamper designed for picnics. Plates are often stored in cupboards. Some are stored in a rack. The design of a plate facilitates eating without tipping food on the table.

We don't add all this miscellaneous information to the definition. We couldn't, without restricting our definition. We could add sub-sets to our definition e.g. green plates or plastic plates, but we can't muck around with the definition without wrecking our purpose of finding out about plates.

Jean M
11-05-2015, 06:36 PM
Obviously if you just want to find about people of the La Tène culture, then your definition could be "People of the La Tène Culture". :biggrin1:

V-X
11-05-2015, 08:55 PM
dinner plate. Definition - a roughly flat object designed for eating from

Great so a cheese board is a dinner plate now. :bounce:

Okay let me ask a more basic question, so that we can stop going round in circles. What theory of semantics are you basing your definition of celts on?

moesan
11-05-2015, 10:25 PM
communauties are evolving, nothing perdures without changes. OK, so there are no Italic, no Germanic, no Semites; they never named themselves like that, they were not totally identical populations and evolved by time too; so why study all this stuff?
even if not completely accurate, some criteria as languages and cultures and interrelations over a certain span of time can help to understand History; the general 'Celt' name is not worst than any else.

Jean M
11-05-2015, 10:28 PM
What theory of semantics are you basing your definition of celts on?

Golly I had no idea I needed one. Perhaps you could ruin me up one in jade green with a Celtic knot pattern. :biggrin1:

V-X
11-05-2015, 10:49 PM
Golly I had no idea I needed one.

Or in other words your answer is that it isn't based on any theory of semantics at all. In that case maybe you should avoid saying things like:


I take it that you have no training in linguistics.

As you say in Blood of the Celts, your definition comes from Macneill, who wrote it in 1920. 1920! We have learnt a lot since then about both the celts and semantics, so I don't see why anyone would refuse to revise that definition based on all the new information and ideas we have. I think such a refusal should be called celtodogmatism :P

You also discuss the Romano-British as being celts while noting that Latin was dominant (but not the only language spoken) for a long period, which goes against your definition because if they are Latin speakers then they aren't celts and don't merit any mention. However, you even go so far as to call the Romano-British period an archaeological period in the timeline of the history of the celts. So you don't even stick to the definition in practice, yet won't consider revising it in light of recent developments in linguistics?

I think perhaps you are worried about conceding ground to the dreaded celtoskeptics, more than in getting to a definition that's suitable and up-to-date.

Jean M
11-05-2015, 11:00 PM
As you say in Blood of the Celts, your definition comes from Macneill, who wrote it in 1920...

I felt that credit should go to him, but he is not the only person to use it. This is the working definition of Celts/Celtic for the massive works that have come out of the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies in the University of Wales in recent years, which I also mention in the prologue: the five-volume Historical Encyclopedia of Celtic Culture (2005) and An Atlas for Celtic Studies (Oxbow 2007), both edited by Prof. Koch. It is the working definition for John Haywood (with foreword by Barry Cunliffe), The Historical Atlas of the Celtic World (Thames & Hudson 2001), aimed at a more popular market. All these works include the British Isles. They cover all Celtic speakers.

Jean M
11-05-2015, 11:12 PM
You also discuss the Romano-British as being celts while noting that Latin was dominant (but not the only language spoken) for a long period,

The Romano-British are certainly included in the book, though I can't say I give a lot of space to them. They form the bridge between the pre-Roman Celts of Britain and the living Celtic languages. I don't say that Latin was dominant. We don't know the number of speakers. Here is the relevant passage re the Anglo-Saxon arrival:


People might be speaking a Romance language in England today, had these newcomers not burst upon the scene, bringing the dialects that developed into English. The most Romanised population of Britain was in the rich lowlands, dotted with bustling towns. Latin was probably widely spoken in southern Britain by late Roman times. This was the very area that turned English. The good agricultural land of the south attracted Anglo-Saxon settlement....

What happened to the Latin-speakers? Some may have perished on Saxon swords. Some may have adopted the language of the incomers. Yet it is intriguing that the Celtic which survived in the British highland zone developed a Latin accent at around this time, as though a rush of Romance refugees had arrived.

Needless to say, if Latin had replaced Celtic as a first language all over Britain, there would be no living Celtic languages in Britain today.

V-X
11-05-2015, 11:59 PM
I felt that credit should go to him, but he is not the only person to use it....Prof. Koch....John Haywood.

All well and good but there's a little bit of cherrypicking going on. There are no doubt plenty of others who disagree and it's an appeal to authority anyway rather than any sort of reason for sticking with the definition. The reason I have for suggesting a revision is the many developments in semantics which have taken place over the last century, in particular cognitive semantics which has many arguments against the method of defining concepts that MacNeill used (which is a simple truth conditional semantics). Unless you have some argument as to why truth conditional semantics is superior despite being largely surpassed in the last 40 years?

Jean M
11-06-2015, 12:46 AM
...There are no doubt plenty of others who disagree ...

This was covered in the second post in this thread: http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?5759-Wittgenstein-and-Celts&p=118472&viewfull=1#post118472


it's an appeal to authority anyway

Scarcely. I gave you my reasons earlier on this thread for making the choice I made. Only in response to your unwarranted assumption that the concept was last used in 1920 did I point out evidence to the contrary.


The reason I have for suggesting a revision is the many developments in semantics which have taken place over the last century

Naturally if you were to write a book on the Celts, you would be free to devise your own definition. I'm reasonably happy with my own.

zamyatin13
11-06-2015, 10:08 AM
Great so a cheese board is a dinner plate now.

Only if you're some kind of Philistine (interestingly another example of modern and ancient ethnic definitions being confused).

The idea that the Celts are somehow uniquely unknowable does grate a little. What is a German or a Roman, both are a sea of grey areas. You have to some commonly understood label at the macro level.

Gravetto-Danubian
11-06-2015, 10:45 AM
In short Keltoi was a term was used for people who turn out to have a Celtic language once we lay hands on linguistic evidence. It was not used for Illyrians, Thracians, Getae, Iberes, Ligurians, Latins, Umbrians, Scythians, etc.




Thanks Jean. But Scythians and Illyrians have little to do with it- becuase they were not encountered in the west, but we do encounted 3 main groups - Iberians, Celts, Ligurians. In fact 'Scythians' prove my point. Our definition of 'Celts' based on modern comparative linguistics does not directly overlap with that of the ancients. It does broadly but not specifically. For example, "Scythians" was - like 'Celts- a generic exonym with a primarily geographic overtone - those "barbarians" north of the Black Sea. A 'Scythian" not only spoke Iranic, but also Thracian, proto-Slavic, etc. There were even Greek-speaking Scythians. Later, Germanic speakers were "Scythians" - as the Goths are called 'Scythians' but never "Germani"

Similarly, 'Celt' was originally a generic, geographic term for those peoples identified by the Greeks in & around the colony of Massalia. The irony is - many of these earliest 'Celts' in Greek accounts were actually Ligurian speakers , if the inscription evidence is taken into account. On the other hand, "Iberians' were those on the far western periphery beyond Massalia, whilst "Ligurians' were on the eastern periphery toward Ertruria. This is all discussed here https://books.google.com.au/books?id=ILbXV8SV9e8C&pg=PT110&lpg=PT110&dq=italy+language+expansion+etruscan&source=bl&ots=_AXon1H7gt&sig=KPfLz9op-Hwd4y9W8ExH2-WQx9g&hl=en&sa=X&ei=M8RyU-27MIWwyATPqoGAAg#v=onepage&q=italy%20language%20expansion%20etruscan&f=false

This is not to deny a broad correlation linguistically, but only broadly, and certainly not exactly.


Later, 'Celts' was adapted more broadly to the interior of Gaul as Caesar expanded. For him, 'Celts' ended at the Rhine, from whence 'Germani' began. But many "Germani" along the middle Danube in early Roman times were probably Celtic speakers, - including Vannius - whose name is attested in numerous inscriptions around pre-Roman Noricum - an obviously Celtic area. The 'Cimbri' and "Tutoni' - erroneously thought to be the first "Germani' from the depths of Scandinavia were naught but Celtic-speakers from across the Danube - as pointed out brilliantly by Burns. Essentially, Caesar invented the "Germani' (or at least appropriated it from earlier uses) for those groups east of the Rhine to represent a new, different, more vile barbarian. So crude, that they were not even worth conquering. In essence, Caesar created a new barbarian category- Germani- to justify the limitations of his own campaigns.

Again, this is not to say that this or that definition is incorrect, or we should avoid the term 'Celts', but the fact is linguistically - some "Celts" were not Celts, and some non-"Celts" were Celts :)

Jean M
11-06-2015, 10:52 AM
The idea that the Celts are somehow uniquely unknowable does grate a little.

To put it mildly. Such sophistries to commit a form of cognitive genocide! However I do not feel that this thread is in the Collis mould.

Jean M
11-06-2015, 11:24 AM
Thanks Jean. But Scythians and Illyrians have little to do with it- because they were not encountered in the west, but we do encounter 3 main groups - Iberians, Celts, Ligurians.

I don't want to spend a lot of time addressing the more ridiculous claims of Collis, because it is really all beside the point now. All the sophistries were directed to one end - cognitive genocide, based on fear. The Celtic fringe was to be denied a common ethnicity among themselves and with Continental Celts, to undermine their political drive towards devolution, and any support from within the EU, to weaken their hand in the United Kingdom versus the dominant English. In other words it was standard psychological warfare. The first first salvo (by Michael Dietler) was overtly political.

It did not work. I would say that it had zero effect on pressures towards devolution, which have been successful by democratic means. A more honest approach would in my view have done a great deal more to heal ancient divisions within the UK. Ancient DNA is not only providing us with evidence of migration. It provides us with evidence of how similar and intertwined genetically are the peoples of Europe. As I say in my prologue:


As Irish historian Eoin MacNeill sagely said in 1920, there is no Celtic race, any more than there is a Germanic race or a Latin race, if by 'race' we mean some set of physical features that clearly distinguishes one from another. Roman observer Tacitus was convinced that the Germani all had 'wild blue eyes, reddish hair and huge frames'. Finding that the Caledonians of northern Britain fitted the same description, he supposed that they were of Germanic stock. By contrast the swarthy faces and curly hair of the Silurians of south Wales he attributed to Iberian descent. Another Roman author describes the Gauls as very tall with white skin, and blond hair, which is exactly the way other Classical authors portrayed the Germani. As MacNeill points out, what would most strike a Roman observer in northern Europe would be a higher percentage of paler colouring than he saw in Italy. Seizing on what is actually a matter of degree, stereotypes were created. We are still prone to this today. So it needs to be said that what MacNeill surmised in 1920 we can now prove. He felt that all the present nations of Europe are a mixture of the same ancestral components in varied proportions. He was right. As we shall see, there are three main components to the modern European gene pool. They came from the ancient hunter-gatherers, the first farmers and a Copper Age people. The modern Irish have a mixture of all three, as do the modern Germans and Italians. Any genetic differences are far too subtle to talk in terms of a Celtic race.

V-X
11-06-2015, 11:34 AM
Just to highlight this sentence, which could be misinterpreted.


My advice is to never use the word celt where a more specific term will do.

The idea is to avoid conflating Hallstatt with celt, or Gaul with celt or something else with celt. When we want to speak of celts as a whole, then I'm fully behind using the word celt. If however we say "Hannibal hired celtic mercenaries" instead of "Hannibal hired Gaulish and Iberian mercenaries" then this is the equivalent of saying that "Hannibal took animals across the Alps" instead of "Hannibal took elephants across the Alps".

What I am proposing re:'family resemblance' is an argument against celtoskepticism, because it means that celt is still a valid term regardless of any irregularities within specific tribes/groups/cultures, including irregularities regarding language.

Jean M
11-06-2015, 11:44 AM
My advice is to never use the word celt where a more specific term will do.

I fully agree, but had to contend with an editor who was afraid that readers would not understand that the more specific terms were also Celts unless the word Celt liberally dotted the text. :)

Gravetto-Danubian
11-06-2015, 11:45 AM
I don't want to spend a lot of time addressing the more ridiculous claims of Collis, because it is really all beside the point now. All the sophistries were directed to one end - cognitive genocide, based on fear. The Celtic fringe was to be denied a common ethnicity among themselves and with Continental Celts, to undermine their political drive towards devolution, and any support from within the EU, to weaken their hand in the United Kingdom versus the dominant English. In other words it was standard psychological warfare. The first first salvo (by Michael Dietler) was overtly political.

It did not work. I would say that it had zero effect on pressures towards devolution, which have been successful by democratic means. A more honest approach would in my view have done a great deal more to heal ancient divisions within the UK. Ancient DNA is not only providing us with evidence of migration. It provides us with evidence of how similar and intertwined genetically are the peoples of Europe. As I say in my prologue:

I think Celts have every right to have a sense of unity and prehistory.

But my points don't pertain to the modern, social aspect. In fact, I'm little abreast with the political undertones of such a question other than what would come to mind from a common understanding of current and past tensions within British identity.

Rather, my point was about the correlation between ancient 'tribal' meta-ethonyms and modern linguistic categories. You keep mentioning Collis, but in fact Ive not really read much of his work. The 'ethnic deconstruction' approach of recent years extended far beyond Collis, or Celts. If taken too far, it does indeed deny some level of identitie(s) which certainly did exist.

Jean M
11-06-2015, 12:01 PM
Rather, my point was about the correlation between ancient 'tribal' meta-ethonyms and modern linguistic categories.

I wouldn't want to argue that there is no greater-than-chance correlation, but there certainly is not a perfect one-to-one relationship between the ethnic labels used by the Greeks and Romans and our modern linguistic families.

The Scythian example that you gave is a classic case of confusion, but partly due to ignorance of the eastern Baltic. Ptolemy's Geography divided up Europe in such a way that the eastern border of Germania was Sarmatia. This continued the Greek tradition of viewing Scythia as extending to the north of what today we would see as the historic Scythia - of rather they knew next to nothing of what lay to the north. It was terra incognita.

The world view of Herodotus:

6559

moesan
11-07-2015, 03:26 PM
@ V-X
What happened to the Latin-speakers? Some may have perished on Saxon swords. Some may have adopted the language of the incomers. Yet it is intriguing that the Celtic which survived in the British highland zone developed a Latin accent at around this time, as though a rush of Romance refugees had arrived.

Is it you who posted this? Which are the evidences for this "Latin accent" in Brittonic?
is it a question of stress in words? Celts (Gauls) on the continent had 2 models of stress, one before the last syllabe and one before that (antépénultième in french): some would put that on the account of Greek and Latin influences; is that serious at all? by the way in Brittonic languages, stress gained a "place" in the word, later; because in Brittany, the 2 moods of stresses are still found, according to dialects, the 'vannetais' or 'gwenedeg', more conservative, having kept the old one, begun positioned now on the last syllabe; question of substrata and internal evolution: place of stress is a complicated thing under more than a contraint; you have just to look at slavic modern languages...
some Brittons under Roma spoke Latine; I'm not sure it was the majority; whe find a lot of latine words in welsh but it is the same in other european languages, always concerning the same semantic fields, as a whole (concerning abstractions words, modern Slavics loaned a lot more latine words than Welsh, I think. But it's true surely a lot very later without any need of occupation.
thank you beforehand for your possible future answer.

moesan
11-07-2015, 03:46 PM
What is the problem?
we have a name, exonym and maybe genuine ethnonym at the same time, more or less accurate - we have languages without any doubt about their proximity - we have History (texts, witnesses, more or less accurate), we have archeology, b.e. swords (archeo: accurate in itself but uneasy to link to ethny or language) - we have everything to be glad and happy:
only to go in details to see what corresponds and what doesn't correspond! Celt is not the name all "Celts" give themselves, and what? It's now taken in a linguistic meaning; we have territories, placenames, rivernames and so on... the "NOT TOTALLY CORRESPONDANCE" of all these elements would signify there have NEVER been Celts or a cultures net (evolving, of course) we name like that?
by the way, Caesar or one another mentioned some Brittons tribes tried to help Gaulish tribes sometimes in the wars against Romans (maybe it's bullshit?) and some exchanges would have been between the Isles and Gaul Druids. I accept every correction about this.
What remains is that "Celts" have never made an Empire grouping all of them with an unique government. Is that a reason to ignore the diverse links they had between them?

Jean M
11-24-2015, 11:12 PM
What happened to the Latin-speakers? Some may have perished on Saxon swords. Some may have adopted the language of the incomers. Yet it is intriguing that the Celtic which survived in the British highland zone developed a Latin accent at around this time, as though a rush of Romance refugees had arrived.

Is it you who posted this? Which are the evidences for this "Latin accent" in Brittonic?

That is a quotation from Blood of the Celts. The reference I cited was Peter Schrijver 2007. What Britons spoke around 400 AD, in Britons in Anglo-Saxon England, N.J. Higham (ed.), 165-171. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.