Continental Celtic
Continental Europe, Anatolia
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
Celtic languages during the Iron Age and classical Antiquity. 1: early Iron Age core region (Hallstatt -H-, early La Tène -L-) 2: assumed Celtic expansion by the 4th century BC L: La Tène site H: Hallstatt site I: Iberia B: British Isles G: Galatia, settled in the 3rd century BC (after 279 BC)

The Continental Celtic languages are the now-extinct group of the Celtic languages that were spoken on the continent of Europe and in central Anatolia, as distinguished from the Insular Celtic languages of the British Isles and Brittany. Continental Celtic is a geographic, rather than linguistic, grouping of the ancient Celtic languages.

These languages were spoken by the people known to Roman and Greek writers as the Keltoi, Celtae, Galli, and Galatae.[citation needed] They were spoken in an area arcing from the northern half of Iberia in the west to north of Belgium, and east to the Carpathian basin and the Balkans as Noric, and in inner Anatolia (modern day Turkey) as Galatian.

Even though Breton has been spoken in Continental Europe since at least the 6th century AD, it is not considered one of the Continental Celtic languages, as it is a Brittonic language, like Cornish and Welsh. A Gaulish substratum in Breton has been suggested, but that is debated.

Attested languages

It is likely that Celts spoke dozens of different languages and dialects across Europe in pre-Roman times, but only a small number are attested:

Use of term

The modern term Continental Celtic is used in contrast to Insular Celtic. While many researchers agree that Insular Celtic is a distinct branch of Celtic (Cowgill 1975; McCone 1991, 1992; Schrijver 1995) that has undergone common linguistic innovations, there is no evidence that the Continental Celtic languages can be similarly grouped. Instead, the group called Continental Celtic is paraphyletic, and the term refers simply to non-Insular Celtic languages. Since little material has been preserved in any of the Continental Celtic languages, historical linguistic analysis based on the comparative method is difficult to perform. However, other researchers see the Brittonic languages and Gaulish as forming part of a subgroup of the Celtic languages that is known as P-Celtic.[4] Continental languages are P-Celtic except for Celtiberian, which is Q-Celtic. They have had a definite influence on all of the Romance languages.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Lambert 1994, p. 14.
  2. ^ Colera, Jordán (2007). p. 750. In the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, and more specifically between the west and north Atlantic coasts and an imaginary line running north-south and linking Oviedo and Merida, there is a corpus of Latin inscriptions with particular characteristics of its own. This corpus contains some linguistic features that are clearly Celtic and others that in our opinion are not Celtic. The former we shall group, for the moment, under the label northwestern Hispano-Celtic. The latter are the same features found in well-documented contemporary inscriptions in the region occupied by the Lusitanians, and therefore belonging to the variety known as LUSITANIAN, or more broadly as GALLO-LUSITANIAN. As we have already said, we do not consider this variety to belong to the Celtic language family. ((cite book)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Prósper, B.M. (2005). "Estudios sobre la fonética y la morfología de la lengua celtibérica" [Studies on the phonetics and morphology of the Celtiberian language]. In Villar Liebana, Francisco; Prósper, B.M. (eds.). Vascos, celtas e indoeuropeos. Genes y lenguas [Basques, Celts and Indo-Europeans. Genes and languages] (in Spanish). Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca. pp. 333–350. ISBN 84-7800-530-7.
  4. ^ Lambert 1994, p. 17.