Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Death of Gaulish: Part 1

'The Death of Gaulish' - Dr. Nicholas Ostler - Chairman, Foundation for Endangered Languages

The Romans gave Europe a lot, but what did they take away?

The Gauls had a rich and complex culture - including their own belief-system, religion, art and language.

But not three or four centuries after the Julius Caesar's army defeated them, the language was completely lost to Latin and with it soon went all trace of their culture and beliefs. Today we are left only with a few inexplicable artifacts from a people we no longer have any connection to.

Dr Nicholas Ostler here explains this single example of language hegemony across the Roman Empire, pointing out the great loss of culture and identity that came with it: "When people give up their language, they inevitably give up their culture too."

The application of this historical example to the present day should speak for itself.

This is a part of Dr Nick Ostler's 'Why should we protect endangered languages?'

The full talk can be downloaded, along with any of the other four lectures from the conference on Rare and Endangered languages, from the Gresham College website:

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website.


Gaulish was the pre-Roman language of a large European land mass, which included Gaul, much of we today call Germany, and Cisalpine Gaul. Click here to hear an example of what the Gaulish language probably sounded like. It's also important to remember that Celtic-related languages were spoken from Ireland to Spain to the Black Sea and Turkey. There is one YouTuber who has gathered a lot of evidence which apparently shows many similarities in words between Irish Gaelic and Albanian. Maybe we can look at that another time, but we do know that there was a common origin of Gaulish.

Much of the replaced culture centered around the Cernic spiritual tradition, of which we know very little. It seemed to be a very complex religion based around the earth, the seasons, nature, constellations, elements, etc. It took many years for someone to complete their training. Much of it was Druidic, and mostly male-oriented, but in many areas it was very female-oriented. From everything that I have looked at so far, the Cernic tradition was the more female-oriented one. It's still very unclear to me... the connection between the Druidic and the Cernic.

One thing could be said for certain. The Romans dramatically changed things forever. Once I was listening to a folk song, sung in the Lombard language of Lombardy. It sounded almost like French to me. More French than Italian (Tuscan). One reason may be that the French language derived from the linguistic switch from Gaulish to Latin, which also occurred in Lombardy, Piedmont, and perhaps elsewhere.


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