How old is English?

Was Galatian Really Celtic?

Anthony Durham & Michael Goormachtigh


version of 12 January 2013


Saint Jerome’s AD 386 remark that the language of ancient Galatia (around modern Ankara) resembled the language of the Treveri (around modern Trier) has been misinterpreted.  The “Celts”, “Gauls” or “Galatians” mentioned by classical authors, including those who invaded Greece and Anatolia around 277 BC, were not Celtic in the modern sense of speaking a Celtic language related to Welsh and Irish, but tall, pale-skinned, hairy, warrior peoples from the north.  The 150 or so words and proper names currently known from Galatian speech show little affinity with Celtic but more with Germanic.

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This article started life as a book chapter, which grew very long because it needed so much detail to back up its argument.  Publishing it in a traditional peer-reviewed journal on paper would take several years, so for speed we are posting it on the Internet, where readers can skip rapidly over parts that bore them, yet specialists can check all our sources.

Self-publishing online is risky.  People may think this article is intellectually second-rate, spawned by petty nationalism or sheer nuttery.  However, the Internet allows hyperlinks, use of colour, and references slanted towards what is available online and in English, rather than buried in academic libraries and in German or Greek.  Above all, we can update the article constantly.
If you can suggest any way to improve this article, please write to our email address and explain.  We will update the text and (if you wish) publicly thank you.

Good advice in fields where we don’t know enough – ancient Greek accents, Welsh grammar, Anatolian epigraphy, historical phonetics, etc – will be much appreciated.

Anyone may reproduce this article freely, so long as it is unaltered, correctly attributed, and dated.