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The Analysis of So-called Gaulish Tribes in Different Ethnolinguistic Groups

The Analysis of So-called Gaulish Tribes in Different Ethnolinguistic Groups

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Published by Arnaud Fournet
The document analyses the so-called Gaulish tribes in different ethnolinguistic groups : residual
pre-indo-european groups, the south-west-block Gaulish, the satem Gaulish and the (properly
Celtic) LaTenic Gaulish. Each group is assigned an area according to its phonological features and
that of relevant toponyms.
The document analyses the so-called Gaulish tribes in different ethnolinguistic groups : residual
pre-indo-european groups, the south-west-block Gaulish, the satem Gaulish and the (properly
Celtic) LaTenic Gaulish. Each group is assigned an area according to its phonological features and
that of relevant toponyms.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Arnaud Fournet on Jul 10, 2010
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The analysis of The analysis of The analysis of The analysis of ssssoooo----calledcalledcalledcalled GaulishGaulishGaulishGaulish tribestribestribestribesin differentin differentin differentin different ethnoethnoethnoethnolinguisticlinguisticlinguisticlinguistic groupsgroupsgroupsgroups Arnaud Fournet
The document analyses the so-called Gaulish tribes in different ethnolinguistic groups : residualpre-indo-european groups, the south-west-block Gaulish, the satem Gaulish and the (properlyCeltic) LaTenic Gaulish. Each group is assigned an area according to its phonological features andthat of relevant toponyms.
 
Gallia divisa est
 As Caesar put it long ago, after conquering territories at the north-west of Italy : 'Gallia est omnisdivisa in partes tres quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae,
 
nostra Galli appellantur.
 
Hi omnes lingua, institutis, legibus inter se differunt.' It has been suspectedfor a long time that these different tribes as described by Caesar may have spoken differentlanguages. So far no clear answer has ever been proposed to this issue.
 Aquitani 
have been identified as speakers of pre-Basque and other related dialects, which seemsvery much probable. This area represents a residual area of Paleo-European languages, which haveretreated or been absorbed by the incoming flux of western Indo-European languages. Another areawhich could potentially still contain Paleo-European speakers is Brittany, because it remained half neolithic and half mesolithic cultures for a long time. We have long hoped to achieve a rationalclassification of Gaulish tribes. We now think that such a rational classification is possible. The methodfollowed includes two steps : a careful study of the vocabulary of (Old) French with the purpose of determining possible substratic words and then a comparison of the phonological features of thosesubstrates with geographic toponyms which exhibit the same features. The substrates identified canthen be assigned a location on the map.(Old) French still contains a certain number of words of unclear or dubious origin, that either thetestimony of ancient authors or traditional lexicography have lumped together under the omnipotentlabel 'Gaulish', which we have long detested because it has about no real descriptive value. We haveidentified three different substrates which are all of Indo-European origin but which are derivable fromPIE through particular phonetic laws. We have identified three different sets of words with coherentand separate laws :- the standard Celtic Gaulish, which will be called LaTenic Gaulish (LTG),- the South-West-Block Gaulish (SWB), which exhibits PIE *r > l, PIE *l > rr, PIE *w >b, and also astrong tendency to devoice (*g > k, *d > t) and geminate (k > *kk, t > *tt).- the Satem (Belgian) Gaulish (SBG), which exhibits PIE *k > s, PIE *g > z.
 
The sets of words of these different substrates are listed and explained in separate documents. It canbe noted that the South-West-Block Gaulish and the Satem Gaulish are both fairly un-Celtic-looking,especially the SWB which displays many more signs of fortition than of lenition.
 
The location of the substrates
Thanks to the description of Caesar, we already have some indications about ethnocultural andethnolinguistic differences on the present-day territory of France during the first millenium BC.First of all there is the area called
Belgica 
at the north between the Seine, Marne and Mosellerivers and the Rhine river. We have already implied that this area is that of the Satem Belgian Gaulish.The reasons to identify
Belgica 
as the area of SBG are the following names :- Parisii < *parikyo. Whatever its exact meaning, it seems more natural to suppose a standard IEderivative with -kyo than with -syo.- the Moselle (< Mosella) and Meuse (< Mosa) rivers can derive from Pok744 *mouk-eH
2
'wet',- the Somme (< Samara) river can derive from Pok524 *kaməreH
2
'curved river', well attested inother toponymical formations.The next point is the location of the SWB, which seems to have occupied the room around theLoire river, from Brittany to the Alps, according to the following words :- French hydronym
la 
 
Loire 
< *liger < Pok854 *reg/rek 'damp, wet'. The variant *leker is attested inBrittany
le 
 
Leguer 
.- French
 jar 
'heap of sand and stones in the Loire riverbed' < Cf. Greek *khaliks 'stone'. Cf. LTG
caillou 
'stone' < *kaljawo-.- French oronym
 Alps 
'mountains' < Latin Alpis < *ardwi- 'mountain' < Pok339 *erH-. Cf. LTG
 Arduenna 
. The derivation alpi < *ardwi supposes that *dw > b > p.- French
chalet 
'mountain shelter' < *kalittu < *ğhor-etos < Pok442 *ğher-.In our opinion, the core area of LTG, which are the only true-born Celts in our scenario, was limitedto the north-west by the SBG area and to the west and south by the SWB area. Naturally, this scenariodoes not mean that they were exclusively populated by either SBG or SWB speakers. On the contrary,it seems probable that these areas were mixed, with possible residual speakers of Paleo-Europeanlanguages and with people speaking the other varieties, LTG, SWB and SBG. It may be hypothesizedthat the voiceless tendencies of the SWB language are possibly due to the Paleo-European substrateupon which it has developed. If we follow the ethnocultural indications of Caesar, the LTG and SWB"Gaulish" people were indeed closer to each other than to SBG people, who did not call themselves
Galli 
.In our scenario, the original area of the North-West-Block is on the other side of the Rhine at thenorth-east of the SBG area. For the time being, we have not dealt with other groups possibly requiringthe same kind of analysis in Spain, Great Britain or Italy.

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