What makes Irish(Celtic languages) Indo-European?

Koreasparkling   Fri Oct 26, 2007 5:25 pm GMT
What makes Irish(Gaelige) and other Celtic languages(e.g. Scottish Gaelic) Indo-European language?

From my understanding, its basic vocabulary is so different from other European languages.
They don't share common words with other European languages that much!

Also, Irish grammar(syntax, morphology...) is very different from other European languages.

Considering all these facts, shouldn't Celtic languages be classified as "language isolate" like Basque?
Or at least as non Indo-European languages like Finnish or Hungarian?
Guest   Fri Oct 26, 2007 8:58 pm GMT
Firstly, you should ask yourself what's an Indo-European language and why is it called that way (origins).

Searching "Indo-European" on wikipedia should do the trick:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages

I'm almost sure that, after reading this, you won't feel the need to ask those questions anymore.
Josh Lalonde   Fri Oct 26, 2007 10:34 pm GMT
They're Indo-European because they're descended from Proto-Indo-European. Vocabulary is only a small part of the picture.
Brennus   Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:35 am GMT
Hello. I notice you are asking this question on Yahoo Answers too. Why not?

Anyhow, let me start out by saying that I certainly agree with what Guest and Josh have written before me.

I think it is also necessary to understand that Indo-European is a very large family of languages and that in a family that large you are naturally going to have a lot of linguistic diversity.

If you look at the Algonquin family of Amerindian languages in North America you will find that some members of this family like Arapaho and Cheyenne (Western Algonquin) have deviated quite a bit from the Central and Eastern Algonquin languages. Even in a smallar Amerindian family like Iroquoian, Cherokee bears no resemblence to other members of this family at first glance like Seneca, Mohawk, Susquahanna, Huron-Wyandot etc.

So it is in the Indo-European languages that some members like Albanian, Armenian, the Celtic languages and even Modern English have deviated quite a bit from the original Indo-European pattern. Languages like Greek, Latin, and especially Russian, Lithuanian and Sanskrit all come closer to what the original Indo-European pattern was.

In the case of the modern or "Neo-Celtic" languages like Breton, Welsh, Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic, there could also be some substratic influences from pre-Celtic languages spoken in the region by Mesolithic hunter-gatherer peoples. More research needs to be done, however.

American linguist, William Labov did not rule this out when he wrote in one of his books that "ingliding high vowels,uo,ie,ue,uy, ui are found in Old Irish, Finnish, Lappic (Saami), the Baltic languages and some varieties of Slavic and seem to be an areal feature."

There appears to have been an ancient hyperborean culture in Northern Europe before the Indo-European invasions that extended from Karelia in northwestern Russia, across Finland, Sweden and Norway down to the British Isles. These people, possibly the ancestors of the modern Lapps (or Saami), built seids and labrynths (or mazes) all over this region which bear strong similarities to one another.

Whether this translates to a pre-Indo-European influence on Irish (or Gaelic) is still not absolutely certain, but it's still a possibility.
Herbist   Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:53 am GMT
From the Indo-European Centum languages Greek, Italic, Celtic and Germanic, Celtic is the only one that has almost completely disappeared . It seems to have vanished like the pre-IE-languages and not to have been as vital as most IE-languages like e.g. Greek. The phenomenon that Ibero-Celtic and Gallic were completely exterminated within a few centuries after the Roman invasion is rather singular and still not really understood. Possibly Celtic language was linked with a Celtic culture characterized by a particularly low evolutionary level of development and quickly abondoned therefore.
aiséirí   Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:56 pm GMT
Herbist,

It is also important to include the fact that of all the languages you mentioned...only the Celtic languages had a group of people who spoke a majority language take active steps to exterminate their usage.

I don't say this to start a fight on this thread, but it is an important difference. No one took over France, Greece, or Germany and said from this point forward you can't speak French, Greek, or German....and if you are caught you will be fined, beaten, imprisoned, or deported...or as it usually happened a healthy combination of all of these.
furrykef   Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:39 pm GMT
Language families answer the question "Where did this language come from?", not "What languages are or were similar to this one?" If Celtic languages evolved from Indo-European, they must be classified as Indo-European even if they are very different from other Indo-European languages.

- Kef
Josh Lalonde   Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:45 pm GMT
<<From the Indo-European Centum languages Greek, Italic, Celtic and Germanic, Celtic is the only one that has almost completely disappeared . It seems to have vanished like the pre-IE-languages and not to have been as vital as most IE-languages like e.g. Greek. The phenomenon that Ibero-Celtic and Gallic were completely exterminated within a few centuries after the Roman invasion is rather singular and still not really understood. Possibly Celtic language was linked with a Celtic culture characterized by a particularly low evolutionary level of development and quickly abondoned therefore.>>

That's a very simplistic way of looking at it. Let's take your examples:
Greek (Hellenic branch): only surviving member of it's branch
Italic branch: all surviving members descend from a single Italic language (Vulgar Latin/Proto-Romance); other languages cognate to Latin are extinct
Germanic: only Western and Northern branches survive, Eastern is extinct
Celtic: Brythonic and Goidelic forms of Insular Celtic survive, Continental Celtic is extinct.
So the Celtic branch seems to have survived about as well as the Germanic, and better than the Hellenic or Italic.

<<No one took over France, Greece, or Germany and said from this point forward you can't speak French, Greek, or German....and if you are caught you will be fined, beaten, imprisoned, or deported...or as it usually happened a healthy combination of all of these.>>

Ottoman Empire
aiséirí   Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:55 pm GMT
Josh...

I am not trying to be stupid...I honestly don't know who you are talking about? Are you saying they were taken over? Or are you saying they did this to another language, or a group of language speakers?

I know that most languages have experienced some conflict at some point and time...but I never heard of any official attempts to gid rid of them?
Josh Lalonde   Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:53 am GMT
I was referring to the situation of Greek. The Ottoman Empire covered much of the former Greek-speaking areas of Asia Minor and Greek is nearly extinct in Turkey. This is also partly due to the population trade between Greece and Turkey after WWI. Greek was spoken over most of the Near East in the early centuries AD by at least some of the population, but now it is confined to Greece itself and some of the surrounding islands.
aiséirí   Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:40 am GMT
Really? Interesting...I didn't know this...

Fair enough...with the execption of Greek my comment stands...LOL

Actually...if anything, it only cements what I was saying about languages being hurt to the point of extinction because of aggressive efforts.
Domine   Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:45 pm GMT
">I was referring to the situation of Greek. The Ottoman Empire covered much of the former Greek-speaking areas of Asia Minor and Greek is nearly extinct in Turkey. This is also partly due to the population trade between Greece and Turkey after WWI. Greek was spoken over most of the Near East in the early centuries AD by at least some of the population, but now it is confined to Greece itself and some of the surrounding islands.<"

Griko can be considered an independant branch from Modern-Greek, because Griko's roots go as back in history as the time of the ancient Greek colonisation of Southern Italy and Sicily, in the 8th century BC. In that respect, this Southern Italian dialect is the last living trace of the Greek elements that once formed Magna Graecia. This theory is backed by evidence regarding the multitude of Doric words and other ancient Greek items of vocabulary in Griko. Griko, just like Tsakonian (a Southern Greek dialect), hails from the Doric branch of the Ancient Greek language and has evolved independently from Hellenistic Koine (from where Modern Greek Koine stems). However Griko and Common Modern Greek are mutually intelligible to some extent.

Griko
Evo panta se sena pensèo,

yiatì sena fsihi mou ghapò,

Tse pou pao, pou syrno, pou steo

stin kardià mou panta sena bastò.


Modern Greek
Ego panta esena skeftome,

yiatì esena psihi mou aghapò,

ke opou pao, opou sernome, opou stekome

stin kardià mou panta esena bastò.
Guest   Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:22 pm GMT
What makes German Indo-European? I heard that 30% of German words don't come from protoIE.
Josh Lalonde   Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:31 pm GMT
German descends from PIE. Ergo, German is IE. It could have 100% non-IE vocabulary and still be IE.
Guest   Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:45 pm GMT
I highly doubt it since pIE is reconstructed from cognates shared by many languages, not the sintax or phonetics.