The analysis of so-called Gaulish tribes in different ethnolinguistic groups ethnolinguistic 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.

Gallia divisa est

As Caesar put it long ago, after conquering territories at the north-west of Italy : 'Gallia est omnis divisa 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 suspected for a long time that these different tribes as described by Caesar may have spoken different languages. 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 seems
very much probable. This area represents a residual area of Paleo-European languages, which have retreated or been absorbed by the incoming flux of western Indo-European languages. Another area which 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 rational classification of Gaulish tribes. We now think that such a rational classification is possible. The method followed 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 those substrates with geographic toponyms which exhibit the same features. The substrates identified can then be assigned a location on the map. (Old) French still contains a certain number of words of unclear or dubious origin, that either the testimony of ancient authors or traditional lexicography have lumped together under the omnipotent label 'Gaulish', which we have long detested because it has about no real descriptive value. We have identified three different substrates which are all of Indo-European origin but which are derivable from PIE through particular phonetic laws. We have identified three different sets of words with coherent and 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 a strong 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 can be 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 and ethnolinguistic 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 Moselle rivers 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 IE derivative with -kyo than with -syo. - the Moselle (< Mosella) and Meuse (< Mosa) rivers can derive from Pok744 *mouk-eH2 'wet', - the Somme (< Samara) river can derive from Pok524 *kaməreH2 'curved river', well attested in other toponymical formations. The next point is the location of the SWB, which seems to have occupied the room around the Loire 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 in Brittany 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 limited to the north-west by the SBG area and to the west and south by the SWB area. Naturally, this scenario does 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-European languages and with people speaking the other varieties, LTG, SWB and SBG. It may be hypothesized that the voiceless tendencies of the SWB language are possibly due to the Paleo-European substrate upon 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

In our scenario, the original area of the North-West-Block is on the other side of the Rhine at the north-east of the SBG area. For the time being, we have not dealt with other groups possibly requiring the same kind of analysis in Spain, Great Britain or Italy.

Cartography of so-called Gaulish tribes

Approximative ethnolinguistic situation during the first millenium BC

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