What is the official language of the European Union?

Criostóir   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 05:51 GMT
Gabhaigí mo leithscéal, a chairde! Scríobhfaidh mé i mBéarla nó go dátheangach as seo amach.

Excuse me, friends! I'll write either in English or bilingually from now on.



The Celtic languages, as far as I know, are the only languages worldwide where initial mutations carry morphological significance. In other languages, sound changes occur as phonological phenomena. We see this in English, where the plural marker -s sounds like an "s" in "Cats", but like a "z" in "Dogs", because the voiceless "s" has assimilated to the voiced "g".

Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, has one of the most complex systems of systematic phonological change based on the contact of consonants and vowels. This is called in Sanskrit "sandhi", meaning "placed together"; indeed the word itself is an example:

sam (together) plus dhi (to place) = assimilation of labial "m" to dental "d" = nd

For students of Sanskrit, mastering the rules of Sandhi is essential, as otherwise you can't tell where words end or what their original forms are.

An example:

Normal Sanskrit (with Sandhi):

tac chrutvâ Râmo vanang gacchatîtirshirâsa.

Words broken apart (note the consonant and vowel differences):

tat shrutvâ Râmas vanam gacchati iti rshis âsa


"Having heard that, Rama went to the forest," said the sage.

So you see, whether one says "shrutvâ" or "chrutvâ" doesn't change the meaning, it just sounds better (but follows grammatical rules in Sanskrit nonetheless). Whereas in Irish, for example, mutation carries semantic significance. The word "a" can mean his, her, or their, depending on the mutation after it:

a charr = his car (lenition or in Irish séimhiú)
a carr = her car (no change)
a gcarr = their car (eclipsis or in Irish urú)
Marius Romanus   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 08:22 GMT
When I heard the first time that EU officials where thinking about a common lingua franca and that both Latin and Esperanto were under consideration, I was delighted. I don't think that Esperanto being an artificial language with few vocabulary esp. for the purposes of an administration has got a chance to make it. Thus Latin is THE solution. Besides that as you all mentioned Latin would be a neutral solution which wouldn't offend Britain, France or Germany (...).
The only problem is that, in my opinion, the European union will not be working on this as long as there's not enough public pressure. There is this rule that petitions that get supported by over a million people cannot be ignored by the administration. It would be the right way, but where to get them.
Unfortunately I haven't had the time to read all of the forum posts here, but I'm glad to see that there are others who are thinking that Latin would make a good official language for the EU.
If anyone is interested in discussing the matter send me a mail to marius_romanus@gmx.net
ferdinand   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 09:36 GMT
Why do you want France being offended if European community use latin?!!!
Ceaser DeJulius   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 14:12 GMT
Criostóir agus Chlàrch,

From now on, (especially for Criostóir) I will write bi-lingually because I am perfectally confident that you can understand what I write, our languages are sisters. With the differences in spelling, grammar, and writing, I cannot reply back to you in Gaelige, but I understand about 95% of what you write. It is obvious that I speak the more complex of the two sister languages. Mutations are hard to master in Gàidhlig, but make it most unique like the Celtic relatives. I am very curious though, how can Welsh be considered a celtic tongue when it is not even remotely similar to Gàdhlig or Gaelige. It looks damn odd to me, and it sounds even wierder. At least between Gàdhlig and Gaelige, there is a close understanding between us. As for Welsh, hah, it is just odd. It is the first written language I know that uses w and y as often as it does most vowels. Like, Dan y dwr... beneath the waters.
Welsh also has funny diphthlongs and double constanants which confuse the heck out of me!

Criostóir   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 20:11 GMT
Welsh is indeed a Celtic language, but one that is called P-Celtic.

Long ago, the two branches of the Celtic languages split: Goidelic (q-Celtic), which became Irish, Gaelic, and Manx; and Brythonic (p-Celtic), which become Welsh, Cornish, and Breton.

All Celtic languages share initial mutations, verb-initial phrasing and inflected prepositions. However, due to phonetic changes and separation, vocabulary became very different.

The Goidelic languages are called q-Celtic because initial consonants from Indo-European with kw (or q) became velarized in Irish and Gaelic. Welsh and Breton have these sounds as p (hence p-Celtic). So one example, the word for "head":

German: Kopf (k)
Greek: kephalos
Latin: caput (Vulgar Latin testes leads to Fr. tête, It. testa)
Irish: ceann
Welsh/Breton: pen

To explain some of the spelling and vocabulary differences to Caesar:

Welsh has the following vowels: a e i o u w y, all of which can be long or short. W and y also sometimes serve as semi-consonants or glides. The reason is that the letter "u" in Welsh is a different sound, kind of like the "î" in Romanian or the "yeri" in Russian. It is an unrounded fronted vowel, kind of hard to describe. So to make the true "u" sound as in Irish cú, they use the letter "w". "Y" can sound like Welsh "u" or the English schwa sound (the first vowel in the word "about").

So dan y dw^r, meaning under the water, is read like dan a dúr.

Welsh and Breton have also been longer under the influence of Latin and French, and have many loan words. Also, more conservatively than Gaelic or Irish, Welsh has kept the Celtic sounds of /þ/ (think the first sound in the word "think") and /ð/ (think the first sound in the word "the"). These are spelt "th" and "dd" respectively. "Rh" and "Ll" represent voiceless aspirated consonants that also once were in Goidelic but where lost, as well as the aspirated nasals spelt "mh" and "nh" in Welsh. This is why Welsh sounds so different to Irish and Gaelic speakers, and is pretty much incomprehensible.

Tá súil agam go bhfuil an freagra seo cuidiú leat, a Chaesair. Agus tá an ceart agat - nuair a scríobhann tú as Gàidhlig, is féidir liom a thuiscint beagnach gach rud. Is fíor gur deirfiúracha ár dteangacha, nach fíor?
Criostóir   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 20:13 GMT
Ceartú beag:

is féidir liom beagnach gach rud a thuiscint.
Marius Romanus   Wednesday, July 07, 2004, 21:39 GMT
<b>@Ferdinand</b>: There seems to be a misunderstanding: I said that France would <u>-not-</u> be offended by the use of Latin for official EU purposes as opposed to English which wouldn't be accepted as official EU language by France (merely serving as an example, also other countries would react that way.)
Ceaser DeJulius (quick reply)   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 05:08 GMT
Thank You very much, I love Welsh and Irish! Now, I am tired.
Good bye and Good Night now.

Tapeadh leabh~! 'S toil leam Cuimris agus Gàidhlig Èireannach! Tha mi sgìth a-nise. Slàn leat agus Oidhche mhath a-nise.

Clark   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 06:09 GMT
Good night to you too, Caesar! It is my b-day today, and I am thoroughly pissed (drunk in American :-)

It is really neat because I can understand about half of what you and Criostoir write in Gaeilge and Gaidhlig.

Well, off to bed with me!
Criostóir   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 08:18 GMT
Well, Clark, I've spent many a birthday quite drunk! I'm glad you can understand our a bit of our Celtic exchange!
And now I'm off to bed as well!

Bhuel, a Chlairc, tá mé i ndiaidh breithlaethanta go leor a chaitheamh ar meisce go mór! Cuireann sé áthas orm go bhfuil tú in ann beagán dár gcomhrá Ceilteach a thuiscint!
Agus tá mé ag dul a chodladh anois freisin!
Damian   Thursday, July 08, 2004, 10:37 GMT
ThIs may amuse Caeser DeJulius.

There is a spoof article in one of the British newspapers this morning Thu 08/07 all about UNLIKELY or UNEXPECTED newspaper headings. Among one of the article headings you are not likely to see at any time is this one:-


Among some of the others are:

Reader finishes Clinton Autobiography
England's Sporting Triumph
Train Arrives on Time
Caller to Company Put straight through
Carrier Bag Opens without a struggle
Boy Gets Bored with Play Station

and this one is close to home:

Loch Ness Monster Appears....Signs Authographs
Clark   Friday, July 09, 2004, 01:13 GMT
Criostoir, did you say you live in Southern California? Me too! I ive in Riverside county, what area of California do you live in?

I think the Scottish Gaelic for "bhuel" is "uill." I am not sure, though.
Criostóir   Friday, July 09, 2004, 02:41 GMT
Clark, I live in Orange County, but despite the name and location I'm neither Protestant nor Republican (actually, I'm Orthodox and more Democrat).

A Chlairc, tá mé i mo chónaí i gContae Oráiste, ach d'ainneoin an ainm agus na háite, ní Protastúnach ná Poblachtach mé (déanta na fírinne is Ceartchreidmheach agus Daonlathaí mé).
ferdinand   Friday, July 09, 2004, 07:09 GMT
Marius Romanus,

All right i have understand you now, thanks for your explanation.
Ceaser DeJulus   Saturday, July 10, 2004, 15:05 GMT
Gur truagh a’ Ghàidhlig bhi’n a càs o’n dh’fhalbh na Gàidheal a bh’againn; A ghineil òig tha tighinn ‘n an àit’.. O tpgaibh àrd a bratoch.