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CelticLanguages Tree

Celtic languages are a group of languages that were spoken across much of Europe, reaching a maximum distribution around 275 BC.


The first sub-division is Insular Celtic (originating in the islands of  Britain, Ireland, and Scotland) shown in blue and red colours, and Continental Celtic (originating on the mainland) shown in green and yellow. Insular Celtic is further divided into the P Group (Gallo-Brithonic) shown in blue and the Q Group (Goidelic) shown in red.

The P Group consists of (still existing) Breton, Cornish, and Welsh. It is thought that Pictish fits into this group as shown on the diagram.


The Q Group (Goidelic) (Gaelic) languages historically formed a dialect continuum stretching from Ireland through the Isle of Man to Scotland. There are three modern Goidelic languages: Irish (Gaeilge), Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig),  and Manx (Gaelg).

These are discussed in the following 3 paragraphs.


IRISH (Gaeilge), also referred to as Gaelic or Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic (Gaelic) Celtic language, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language by a small minority of Irish people today, and as a second language by a rather larger group of non-native speakers.


SCOTTISH GAELIC, or Scots Gaelic, sometimes also referred to as Gaelic (Gàidhlig) is a Goidelic (Gaelic) Celtic language, native to Scotland. Scottish Gaelic, developed out of Middle Irish, and thus is ultimately descended from Old Irish roots.


MANX is a Goidelic (Gaelic) Celtic language, originating on the Isle of Mann.  Manx died out in the 20th century but has since been revived to some degree.


Scots not a Celtic language but is the language spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster, Ireland, (where the local dialect is known as Ulster Scots). Scots is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language which was historically restricted to most of the Highlands, the Hebrides and Galloway after the 1500s. The ancestor of the Scots language is called Proto-Germanic—also known as Common Germanic—which was spoken in approximately the middle-1st millennium BC in Iron Age Scandinavia. The Scots language developed during the Middle English period as a distinct entity.

               Scots Gaelic, and Scots, and Celtic Vocabulary:

  1. Auld (Scots): Old

  2. Aber (Celtic / Pictish): Mouth of a river or confluence of rivers

  3. Bairn (Scots): Child-male or female; son or daughter

  4. Ben (Scots): Mountain. Scottish mountains are smaller than Canadian and we might call them big hills in Canada

  5. Beinn (Scots) Large mass of earth and rock

  6. Blair: (Blar in Scots Gaelic) a plain (flat land)

  7. Brae (Scots): Inclined plane, slope, or hillside

  8. Brig (Scots): Bridge

  9. Broch (Brough in Scots): Iron age, dry stone fortified tower

  10. Burgh or Borough (Scots): an incorporated town, having its own charter and some degree of political independence from the surrounding area.

  11. Burn (Scots): Stream

  12. Cairn (Scots Gaelic): Large stone or rock. A pile of stones. A monument or landmark.

  13. Cardden (Celtic / Pictish): Wooded. Found in Kincardine

  14. Ceann (Scots Gaelic): Head or End. Became "Kin" in English such as Kincardine

  15. Ceilidh (Scots Gaelic): A dance, gathering, or party.

  16. Clann: (Scots Gaelic): Clan, offspring, children, family

  17. Crannag (Scots Gaelic): Crannog. A small man-made island, may be connected to mainland by a man-made causeway

  18. Drum (Scots Gaelic Druim): Ridge of a hill

  19. Dun or Dum (Scots Gaeilc): Fort fortress, fortified place, stronghold

  20. Eilean (Scots Gaelic): Island

  21. Esk (Scots Gaelic Uisge): Water

  22. Failte: A greeting meaning “Welcome”

  23. Firth (Scots): Costal inlet (fjord). A long narrow indentation of the sea coast.

  24. Glen (Scots Gaelic Gleann): A steep valley usually between hills or mountains. Likely with a river at the bottom

  25. Holly (Scots Haly): Holy

  26. Inch (Scots Gaelic Innis): Can mean Island or Meadow

  27. Inver (Inbhir in Scots Gaelic): Confluence, usually referring to a river estuary.

  28. Kirk(Scots): Church

  29. Kyle (Scots Gaelic Caol): Strait or narrows. A narrow body of water connecting 2 larger bodies of water

  30. Laich (Scots): Low, flat, lowly. A piece of low lying land

  31. Loch (Scots Gaelic): Lake

  32. Maor (Scots Gaelic): Stewart

  33. Mearns: “The Mearns” is another name for Kincardineshire, means the “the stewardry”

  34. Mercat (Scots): Market. A mercat cross could be found in the market square.

  35. Mor(Scots Gaelic): Great, large, grand, big, high, tall

  36. Mormaer(Scots Gaelic): Great Steward. (later called earls)

  37. Murray (Scots Gaelic Moireabh): A body of water. From the Pictish kingdom of Moray

  38. Orlodge (possibly French Horloge meaning Clock)

  39. Pit, Pitt, or Pett (Celtic): a share or portion of land

  40. Rood (Scots Ruid): “Cross” As in Holyrood (Holy Cross) Castle in the city of Edinburgh

  41. Rood: can mean “Rod” which is a surveyor’s measure of 5 ½ yards in length.

  42. Sept: a group descended from, or connected to, a clann

  43. Strath (Scots Gaelic Srath): A valley with a flat bottom

  44. Wee (Scots): Small, little

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