Celtic Impact on English Language: London and Beyond! - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  937 Words
Date:  2023-04-05


Just until recently, it was a common belief among linguists that Celtic culture had minimal impact on the modern English language. However, that notion has changed after recent research publications by English language scholars who have shed light on the issue. There are many words, especially place names, in the English language that are borrowed from various dialects of the Celtic language. The name London, the British capital is attributed to the Celtic influence on the English language. Many other cities and locations in Europe have names that are derived from Celtic languages. The Anglo-Saxons who are said to have started arriving throughout central and east Britain in the 6th and 7th centuries, spreading their language and culture rapidly (Schrijver, 200). However, the inhabitants of the corners of the isles are believed to have retained the language that was widely spoken by the previous predominant culture, the Celtics, who are said to have inhabited the region of Europe from 400BC. As shown in the map below, Celtic influence on the English language became more prevalent after their conquest between 400BC and 200 BC (Lutz, 236). Although the Celtic influence is minimal compared to the influence by Scandinavians, Vikings, Latins, Greeks/Persians, French, Saxons, among other explorers and conquerors, there are still many ways through which Celtic language and culture influenced the English language. This essay describes some of the ways some dialects of Celtic language such as Celtic fringe, the Irish Gaelic, the Scottish Gaelic, and welsh have influenced the development of English language and culture to the widely spoken language it is today.

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Fig 1. The growth of Celtic influence on the English language from 400BC to 200 BC

The Celtic influence on the English language is evident throughout Europe with most of its elements evident in most countries throughout the region. Celtic influence can be felt as far as Germany, Spain, and France. Dialects spoken in most countries across Europe are evidence of the significant impacts that the Celtic culture had on the English language. The publication of the Archaeologia Britanica in 1707 by Edward Lhuyd pointed out the many English words that had similarities between the Welsh, Cornish, Irish Gaelic, and Scots Gaelic Celtic dialects (Schrijver, 198). He was the first scholar to group these languages into two sets which he named distinctively as P-Celtic and Q-Celtic languages respectively. Breton, Cornish and Welsh language were put into the P group while the Irish Gaelic and the Scots Gaelic were placed into the Q group.

It is crucial to mention that most Celtics who inhabited Europe during the Anglo-Saxon rule learned normal English through informal settings that did not provide them with the opportunity nor the time to develop their English-speaking skills fully. One could say that they learned what was necessary to facilitate communication with English speakers. Because the language was being taught to adults who were unable to pick up the grammatical traits of the English language as native speakers, they ended up speaking the English language with a heavy accent (Lutz, 227). Children who were born to families who continued to speak this "broken English" also picked the grammatical and vocabulary brokenness of the language. Although the direct impacts of the Celtic culture on the English language can be termed as minimal, it is safe to say that the minimal impact is apparent as most of most words adopted from Celtic language into English are largely geographical or place names. It is worth noting that intermarriage also played a significant role in furthering the influence of Celtic culture on the English language.

According to Schrijver 196, One specific and most common example of the elements of the English language that were adopted from Celtic language is the use of the dummy auxiliary do. In English, one should use the auxiliary do in the following manner: jane does not dance. However, in other places across Europe, the auxiliary is used differently, with no constriction of using it in negative or interrogative sentence constructions; for instance, in many people in Germany, Netherlands, Norway, etc. use do in an empathetic way, for instance; jane does swim. Many common peculiar linguistic characteristics have been recently discovered to be of Celtic origin (Gramley). For instance, the use of both a reflexive and an intensifier is a common phenomenon in English spoken in places in which the English spoken is highly influenced by Celtic English. E.g. jane keeps singing to herself is an example of using a reflexive and the minister of finance himself visited us yesterday is an example of an intensifier used in a sentence.

Influences by Irish Gaelic: there are more than 40 words in English that are adapted from welsh English. These include leprechaun, bother keen, shamrock among others. Many geographical words in Ireland are borrowed from Irish Gaelic language. The word Gaelic (homestead) is anglicized "bally' in the English place name Ballymena and the Irish Gaelic word "bealach" (passage way) is the anglicized word in the place name Ballyclare.

Influences by Scots Gaelic: clan, plaid, cairn, whisky, are among the over 30 words that are anglicized from Scots Gaelic language (Lutz, 230). The word whisky is popular in English and means "water of life" most place names in Scotland and Northern Ireland are adopted from Scots Gaelic language. Words in the modern English language that are adapted from the welsh language include penguin, gull, crag, and many geographic names in wales.

Works Cited

Gramley, Stephan. The history of English: An introduction. Routledge, 2018.

Lutz, Angelika. "Celtic influence on Old English and West Germanic." English Language & Linguistics 13.2 (2009): 227-249.

Schrijver, Peter. "Celtic influence on Old English: phonological and phonetic evidence." English Language & Linguistics 13.2 (2009): 193-211.

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Celtic Impact on English Language: London and Beyond! - Essay Sample. (2023, Apr 05). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/celtic-impact-on-english-language-london-and-beyond-essay-sample

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