Language Succession

Theo Vennemann tvn at
Sun Jan 31 20:51:12 UTC 1999

[ moderator snip ]

>>English is an exception. Having developed on an Insular Celtic substratum,
>>it is (mildly) "transformed" Germanic. As a consequence, it is structurally
>>more similar to Insular Celtic (and, by transitivity, to Atlantic) than the
>>other Germanic languages, but not to the same high degree as Insular Celtic
>>is to Atlantic.

>>Theo Vennemann, 28 January 1999.

>Would you care to enlarge on the last paragraph, especially? For the whole
>group, I mean. As many of us do not know Arabic, and I at least cannot see
>how English is closer structurally to Arabic than German or Danish, it
>would be very interesting.


I would like to write about this, and I will have to for lectures in the Fall,
but I do not have time now to do this just for fun. I am not a specialist in
Semitic, Insular Celtic, or English, whereas there are scholars on this List
who can give you lots of facts without having to do much reading. If you
want to wait, I will probably be able to provide much material later this
year. In the meantime, I repeat some of the titles I have referred to on the
List before.

--- John Morris Jones. 1900. "Pre-Aryan syntax in Insular Celtic." In: John
Rhys and David Brynmor-Jones, The Welsh people: Chapters on their origin,
history, laws, language, literature and characteristics, London: T. Fisher
Unwin, Appendix B, pp. 617-641.
--- Julius Pokorny. 1927-30. "Das nicht-indogermanische Substrat im Iri-
schen", Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 16: 95-144, 231-266, 363-394;
17: 373-388; 18: 233-248.
--- Orin David Gensler. 1993. A typological evaluation of Celtic/Hamito-
Semitic syntactic parallels. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University
of California, Berkeley. [Available from University Microfilms Inter-
national, Ann Arbor, Michigan, no. 9407967.]

These works mostly compare Insular Celtic to Hamito-Semitic, but to some
extent they refer to features of English that agree with features of languages
of these groups but differ from Germanic. Gensler has an extensive biblog-
raphy. You may also want to consult the following book:

--- Heinrich Wagner. 1959. Das Verbum in den Sprachen der Britischen
Inseln (Buchreihe der Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 1). Tuebingen:
Max Niemeyer.

You may further want to look out for Celtic Englishes II, the successor
volume of the following (which is also worthy of attention):

--- Hildegard L. C. Tristram (ed.). 1997. The Celtic Englishes (Anglistische
Forschungen, 247), Heidelberg: C. Winter.

Of course, you may also go ahead and see what Semitic and Insular Celtic
look like, e.g. by reading the following books:

--- E. Lipinski. Semitic languages: Outline of a comparative grammar (= Orien-
talia Lovaniensia Analecta 80). Leuven 1997.

Donald Macaulay, The Celtic languages. Cambridge UP 1992, 1998.

There are many others, but these will get you started.

Kind regards,
Theo Vennemann.
31 January 1999

More information about the Indo-european mailing list