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NORN KJOKL • View topic - Pictish links

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 Post subject: Pictish links
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:51 pm 
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Just came across a couple of webpages dedicated to Picts and their language, that might be of interest to our members:

http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/2081/1/languagepictland.pdf
The classic "Language in Pictland" by Katherine Forsyth

http://web.onetel.net.uk/~hibou/Pictish%20Inscriptions.html
Complete list of all the known Pictish Ogham inscriptions

http://heatherrosejones.com/names/pictish/
A Consideration Of Pictish Names

http://halfmoon.tripod.com/index.html
Pictish nation

Some reconstruction websites:

http://alexmidd.co.uk/kaledonag/index.html
Pictish conlang, according to our friend Yeti (or shall we call it reconlang?) Apparently this is a Celtic version.

http://ancient-british.webs.com/
Proto-Brythonic or Proto-Brittonic, the language of the aboriginal inhabitants of Britain, Celtic once again.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:01 am 
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Location: Rheged
http://prittenic.wikispaces.com/

My website on wiki spaces about languages in Scotland. I have a reconstruction of Pictish on there called Prittenic and a modern conlang/recreation called Prithenic :p Anyone is welcome to contribute (I also have some Norn stuff on there)


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 Post subject: Re: Pictish links
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:34 pm 
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Location: An Eaglais Dhubh, Alba
A charaid,

tha feum agad sùil a thoirt air a' Ghàidhlig an sin, tha cuid mhath dheth ceàrr ann an 'grammar'....

You'll need to revise the Gaelic grammar section, there are a lot of mistakes....

e.g.

Chan fheumaidh mi ach aon rud a' faigh - Chan fheum mi rud sam bith fhaighinn - I don't have to get anything

Chan fheum mi ach aon rud *fhaighinn would mean "I only need need to get one thing"

a' faighinn or in my dialect a' faodainn is 'to get' and takes the *infinitive form at the end of an auxilliary construction....

______

I'm not convinced that Pictish was P-Celtic. I'm no expert, but this stance is coming under extremely heavy fire. The only differences that seem to be repeatedly cited are based on placename prefixes like 'pett/pitt' and 'abair' and the oft-repeated legend of Colm Cille requiring a translator to speak to Bridei the Pictish 'king' of the time. This does not mean that Goidelic and 'Pictish' were particularly divergent, only that they were divergent enough for two men to require a bit of help communicating with one another.

The fact that Pictish "disappeared" entirely is another fishy aspect of this. We have seen what happened to Gaelic when the Vikings inhabited the Western Isles, Caithness and Sutherland for the time that they did. The language survived and continued with heavy Norse intonation and lots of vocabulary. That's basically the difference between my Gaelic and the Gaelic of the North. They pre-aspirate heavily and use words like taing or tapadh for 'thanks' or 'thanking' for just a couple of examples.

Where did Pictish go? I reckon that it did not "go" anywhere. It is now highly doubtful that the Gaels "arrived" in South Argyll from what is now Ireland. There is nothing to suggest that the previous inhabitants of the area had no Goidelic speech. This has simply been assumed. It is also particularly odd that there is no 'Pictish' archaeology to speak of in the Western Isles, for example. This would suggest to me that what we think of as Pictish art and inscriptions are simply a product of the particular peoples who lived in the areas where they were found, rather than belonging to a group who could be identified principally by their language.

My thoughts are that the Picts were speaking something very much akin to Gaelic and that there was no language struggle of any kind because when the Gaels of Dalriada took over politically, their particular dialect of this speech was seen as socially more acceptable. They belonged to what was now the ruling class and so did their speech. Who is to say that the manner in which Gaelic was spoken in Stirlingshire, Perthshire, Strathspey and Badenoch is not the result of whatever intonation and accent the Picts spoke with? We'll probably never know, but there's work to be done there....

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 Post subject: Re: Pictish links
PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:55 pm 
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The disappearance of Pictish need not seem so far-fetched (the notion that Pictish disappeared entirely isn't quite the case either; the further my discussion progresses, the more apparent this will become). Languages disappearing rapidly under pressure from insurgent linguistic groups is relatively common. To give an illustration, Common Brittonic disappeared very quickly from what is now the south-east of England after the Anglo-Saxon occupation and settlement post-400 AD. Anglian settlement was most prevalent in the southern regions, with Brittonic surviving as Cumbric (until no earlier than 1150), Welsh, etc in more northerly and westerly areas. Other exemplars would include various Native American languages. While a number still enjoy usage today, others, such as the Pamunkey, under pressure from English would be extinguished by the mid-19th century. One could also draw parallels with the Yiddish language which, although now a Germanic tongue, originated as a Armaic (or Suraic) one, before the movement of the Ashkenazim into the Holy Roman Empire (c.900 AD) resulted in a vocabulary shift to a language nearer German, resultant of contact and dominion from speakers of that language, with only fragments of the original remaining. It is a very reasonable assumption therefore, that a similar fate could have befallen a P-Celtic Pictish, under growing pressure from the Gaels of Dal Riata.
An "Irish" colonization of the Pictish country was most assuredly undertaken in the centuries following 400 A.D. -- toponyms such as Atholl (Perthshire) derive from Old Irish ath-Fholta, meaning "New Ireland".
Invoking Columba's use of an interpreter in his 565 AD preaching to Bridei I of the Picts isn't especially helpful when addressing the question of Pictish. Irrespective of the language spoken by the Picts, it remains very possible that Columba's preaching was, either wholly or predominantly, in Latin, not Old Irish. On that account, an interpreter would be requisite regardless of the nature of Pictish.
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The Pictish language has long-vanished from Scottish tongues, leaving no direct descendants. As a consequence, our attention must shift to what the Picts left behind -- their inscriptions, toponymy, hydronymy, the names they bore and the traces that remain in-use as loan-words. These linguistic remnants substantiate the existence of a P-Celtic language, either derived from Common Brittonic (and thus consanguineous to Cornish, Breton, Welsh and Cumbric) or of close kin to it.
Of course, it by no means follows that the difference between Pictish and its more southerly sister-languages was minimal. To the contrary, it is possible that Pictish had some of the most divergent features of Britain's P-Celtic languages:
• Phonetically speaking, there is evidence to suggest that Proto-Celtic/Brittonic *w, which by c. 600 A.D. became gu, gw and g, in neo-Brittonic un-mutated form (e.g. PrC *wlatis > W gwlad; in Q-Celtic f > Ir flaith), was retained in Pictish, where it appears as u and uu (c.f. P Uurguist vs. W Gurust).
As already implied, the precise relation to, or position within, Brittonic is a matter which remains open to discussion:
• It may be, firstly, that there were two closely-related P-Celtic languages in pre-Roman Celtic Britain, "Brittonic" in lands south of the Forth and "Prittenic" (what would develop into Pictish) in those to the north -- thus, Prittenic would be to Pictish what Brittonic is to Welsh. "Prittenic" and "Brittonic", under such circumstances, would have diverged after 100 B.C and before 100 A.D.
• Second, the fact may simply be that Pictish was a third "Western" neo-Brittonic language, alongside Welsh and Cumbric (as opposed "Southern" neo-Brittonic: Breton, Cornish). Be this the case, the bifurcation of Pictish and other Brittonic languages can dated to c. 500 A.D.
• Finally, it may be that Cumbric and Pictish were closer aligned to each-other than they were to Welsh; Pictish was patently on a dialectal continuum with at least northernmost Cumbric.
In spite of these divergences and uncertainties, the substance that remains from the language of the Picts, as already stated, stands to testify that it was P-Celtic Brittonic in origin.
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Evidence, from Pictish Ogham inscriptions found in Northern Scotland, has demonstrated clearly the presence of a Brittonic dialect or one closely related to it in formerly Pictish lands. Perhaps the most exemplary is the Burrian stone, originally from Orkney. The inscription, originally in Ogham, has been transliterated as idbmirrhannurractkevvcerroccs. It is thought to reveal a cognate of Old Welsh guract, meaning "he/she made", in the second word urract. The final word cerroccs has been explained as a spirantized word meaning "cross" (a borrowing from Latin crux, as in Welsh croesi/crwys). The idbmirrhann part is thought to be a personal name derived from Old Celtic *(b)ran, meaning "raven". Thus, while the third word kevv remains problematic. idbmirrhannurractkevvcerroccs, may be a Pictish sentence explaining that "Idbmirrhann" carved the cross (presumably the cross-like symbol found on this stone).
At two separate sites in Shetland, two stones may reveal Pictish boundary stone messages:
The Lunnasting stone bears an inscription transliterated as ettecuhetts. In Welsh, the equative-adjective cyhyd means "as long as" (hyt, "length"). Cyhyd and its Breton cognate cihit historically appeared in boundary clauses meaning "limits, extents, what is as far as...". Thus here, we may find the Pictish cognate *cuhett, meaning "as far as..." or alike.
At Cunningsburgh, an ogham inscription has been rendered ehteconmors. Pictish *conmor may be observed here, with a meaning "as great as..." (c.f. Welsh cyn-, "as-" + mawr, "big, great" < Brit *con-mǭr).
On both, ette and ehte are possible variant spellings of a Pictish corespondent of Welsh ydy, "this is-, is-, are-".
The terminal s that both display may be a Pictish form (in these instances, perhaps reduced) of the Breton affixed demonstrative -se.
It is likely that stones with the messages discussed functioned as territorial markers; "as great as..." and "as far as.." would be suitable for such usage.
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Place-names in Pictland are likewise demonstrative that Pictland was a Brittonic-speaking region.
• The copious instances of aber ("estuary, confluence"), at for instance Aberdeen or Abernethy, directly parallel the instances of this element in Wales, at mouths of rivers (Aberystwyth, Abergele, etc).
• Perth is another very transparent Pictish place-name. In Welsh, perth means "hedge" and it is highly probable that the Pictish correlative is present both here, and at Pert in Angus.
• Ogilvie in Angus is thought to be cognate to the Welsh uchelfa meaning "high/lofty place".
• Burnturk (formerly Brenturk) in Fife is likely to be derived from the Pictish equivalents to Welsh bryn ("a hill") and twrch ("a wild hog").
• Place names with Coupar and Cupar etc, are thought to contain a Pictish derivative of Common Brittonic *comber, meaning "a confluence" (Welsh cymer, Cumbric *cumber).
• Pennan in Aberdeenshire may preserve a Pictish cognate of Welsh pen ("summit, head(land), end, top"). Though it should be noted that this element, while common in Wales and Yr Hen Ogledd, is rare in the Pictish lands.
•• While pen- is uncommon, some name-formations with the Gaelic cognate ceann (> Kin-), are opined often to be Gaelic adaptions of Pictish pen- names; especially those with Brittonic specifics -- lands known now as "Kinneil" were affirmed, by Saint Bede in 730 A.D., to be known unto Picts as Peanfahel; avowedly displaying the pen- element. More possibles include Kincardine (x5), Kinghorn, Kinross and Kinrymont (= St Andrews) -- pen > ceann perhaps supervened Cumbric pen- as far south as Yorkshire.
•• Further conservatives of Pictish pen- may include Pinnel (Fife), Pinderachy and Pendewen (both Angus); all hill-names.
• Migvie, Midstrath (formerly Migstrath) and Midmar (formerly Migmarre), all in Aberdeenshire, Meckpehn and Meigle in Perthshire, as well as Miglo in Fife, are all thought to contain a Pictish word related to Welsh mig(n), meaning "a bog".
• Tre(f)-, "town, village, farm, stead, etc", a Brittonic naming-element in abundance from Strathclyde to Brittany, has numerous possible instances in Pictland; Troustrie, Clentry, Clentrie, Montrave and Travelay in Fife, Menstrie in Clackmannanshire, Rattray in Perthshire, Fintry and Trostrie in Angus, Fintry (or Cantress), Rattray, Clyntre, Fortrie, Tremuda, Trefor and Trefynie in Aberdeenshire, Fortrie in Banffshire, Cantray in Inverness-shire and Treb in Orkney.
•• Underlying Cantray and Cantress above is a most ancient Brittonic *cantā-treβ, "bright-stead"; in occurrence at Cantref, Monmouthshire, Wales.
• Morphie, on the Kincardineshire-Angus border, lies close to estuarine plains and, etymologically-speaking, is a likely survival of the Pictish analogue of Welsh morfa meaning “a salt-marsh”. This element pervades in Welsh maritime vicinity.
• Landrick in Perthshire (x2), Lanrick in Perthshire (x1), Lendrick in Angus and Kinross-shire (both x1), are all simplex occurrences of a Pictish form of Welsh llanerch, "clearing, glade, thwaite" (< Brit *landā-arcā). The metathesis of -rk to -r*k is characteristic of Gaelicised forms of llanerch (c.f Lanark > ScG Lannraig). This element is rather plenteous in both the Cumbric lands and Wales.
• Panbride and Panmure, both in Angus, share the generic element pant, in Welsh meaning "depression, dip, hollow". The specific in the former is the saint-name Brigid, while that of the latter is apparently the cognate of Welsh mawr, "big, large, great".
• Trossachs in Stirlingshire may involve the Brittonic *trǭs (> Welsh traws) meaning "across, athwart". Names with *trǭs- are frequently found along historic boundaries, especially (as is the case with Trossachs) the Pictish-Cumbric interface.
• Lomond Hills are a prominent range of hills, largely in Fife. Underlying this name is a Pictish form of Middle Welsh llumon, meaning "beacon". The location complements the derivation well; the most prominent hills of Fife are situated here, towering over the Lowlands, a beacon here would be descried from some distance south of the Forth -- and the element underpins the names of other hills, including in the Cumbric lands at Ben Lomond, Dumbartonshire (G beinn is a later addition), and Wales at Pumlumon, Cardiganshire.
• Deer in Aberdeenshire and Dairsie (formerly Deruesin) in Fife both involve a Brittonic *derw, meaning "oak" (Welsh derw).
Other extant or recently-extant toponyms of Pictland where a Brittonic formation is plausible include: Altyre (x2), Arran, Biffie, Birse, Blain, Blebo, Brechin, Cambo, Daviot (x2), Duniface, Erchite, Esslemont, Glasslie, Glasgo (c.f Glasgow), Keith, Kelly, Kelty, Kettle, Lindifferon, Lindores, Lundie, Mandrethin, Methven, Orkney, Pairney, Peebles, Pluscarden, Primrose, Rosemarkie, Scone, Scoonie (x2), Tarvit and Urquhart (x5).
-
Toponyms and ethonyms, recorded by Roman-era historians and geographers such as Marcellinus or Ptolemy, in lands that were or would become "Pictish" show a strong correlation between the language of the southern regions.
• The inhabitants of a Pictish kingdom usually referred to as Fortriu/Wearteras, are recorded in the 4th-century as the Verturiones. Vertur- has been connected etymologically to the Middle Welsh gwerthyr, meaning "fortress" (< Br werterā ; c.f. Verterae, Westmorland).
• Epidii are an ancient people of Argyll. Distinctively P-Celtic in its countenance, the name involves the root *ep- meaning "a horse" (> W ebol , "a foal").
• A tribe native to present-day Fife, known as Venicones by Ptolemy and (Maen) Gwyngwn in the Gododdin, may contain the element cuno- (>cŵn) meaning in Welsh "hounds".
• Cornovii were recorded in the 2nd-century by Ptolemy as the inhabitants of Caithness. Derived from Brittonic *corn, "horn" and referring either to a geographical feature or a horned-deity, two identically-named tribes were found in England; in Staffordshire/Cheshire/Shropshire, and more tentatively in the extreme south-west (> Cornwall).
• Bannatia, as recorded by Ptolemy, was a city of the Vagomagi (a people indigenous to the Spey basin). The Brittonic element bann (> W ban) is current here, meaning archaically "a promontory, a hill-spur" and in Welsh "a summit".
--
In an akin vein to place-names, hydronyms (the names of rivers, lakes and other bodies of water) often survive changing languages in the lands around them; just as, to give an instance, many French river-names survive from Gaulish times, the names of rivers in Britain, including those in former Pictavia, often show signs of Brittonic roots. In fact, multiple hydronyms in lands once Pictish are well-paralleled by those in more southerly regions.
• The hydronyms Calder in Caithness (x1) and Inverness-shire (x3), Callater in Aberdeenshire and Angus (both x1) and Cawdor (formerly Caladar) in Nairnshire represent a survival of the Brittonic formation *caleto-dubro, meaning "hard-water" (Welsh caled-dŵr). Names of this origin are widespread in southern Scotland and northern England, with Calders in the Lothians, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Wigtownshire, Cumberland, Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire. Other forms, such as Kielder, Northumberland, are likely to come from the same root, as do Calettwr and Clettwr in Wales. The formation is rare if not absent in southern England.
• The River Braan in Perthshire is likely to conceal the Brittonic root *breμ- meaning "roar" (Welsh brefu). Of an identical or similar origin are the Breamish in northern England, and the Brefi in Wales.
• River Spey, in Inverness-shire/Moray, originates as a genitive of a nominal form Spiath, which may have conserved a Brittonic form originating with spïδad, "thorn-bushes" (> Welsh yspyddad, Breton speazh).
• Lour Burn in Moray, a minor tributary of the Spey, once had the form Labhar, from Brittonic laβar ("talkative, loud"); identical in derivation to Afon Llafar, two minor rivers in northern Wales, and the Lavar in northern England.
• The River Peffery (or Peffer) flows into the Cromarty Firth in Ross-shire. This hydronym is a survival of Brittonic peβïr meaning "bright, radiant" (> Welsh pefr), occurring further south as Peffer Burn in the Lothians (x2 or more; a lost third example is likely to have existed), and as Cheshire's Peover (a river-name now given to a general area).
• Bervie Water enters the North Sea in Kincardineshire. This name involves the Brittonic *ber-wo (> Welsh berw, Breton berv), meaning "boiling, seething". A Nant Berw in Glamorgan, Wales has the same root.
• River Dee is one of two rivers to enter the North Sea at Aberdeen. British dẹ:w (> W duw, "God") had the feminine form *dẹ:wā-, "a goddess", which underlies this ancient hydronym (to Ptolemy, Deva) and other rivers so-named in southerly regions -- in Kirkcudbrightshire and northern Wales.
• River Don, likewise, enters the North Sea at Aberdeen. Involving once more dẹ:w, the form *dẹ:w-onā- forms the etymological basis for the name Don, a derivation shared by the Doon in Ayrshire.
• River Almond is a prominent river of Perthshire. The name derives from the common British hydronymic formation *amb-onā-, from the P-Celtic root *amb-, meaning "moisture". Identical formations survive in Cumbric lands, as the "Almonds" of Midlothian and Stirlingshire, and in Wales as the two rivers named Afon Aman, Glamorgan.
• Glow, now Loch Glow (reservoir), is a lake-name of Kinross-shire. Etymologically speaking, Glow preserves the British root glę:ju, "shining, clear" (> Welsh gloyw); as seen at, for instance, Llyn Gloyw, a lake in western Denbighshire, Wales, as well as Gloucester, England.
--
The personal-names borne by the Picts, as attained from sources such as king-lists and inscriptions, are paralleled in Welsh and other P-Celtic languages. These include:
Resad - cognate with Welsh Rhys
Uoret - cognate with Old Welsh Guoret
Taran - cognate with the Welsh word taran ("thunder"), also the Gaulish deity name Taranis
Unust (> Onuist, Angus) - cognate with Old Welsh Unwst
Uurgust - cognate with Old Welsh Gurust (> Grwst, also English Fergus, from Gaelic)
Elpin - cognate with Welsh Elffin
Drostan - cognate with Old Welsh Drystan (> Tristan)
Mailcon - cognate with Welsh Maelcwn
While not "true" cognates, there are personal-names in Pictish that appear to contain cognate elements to those found in Welsh. For example, Talorc appears in various spellings as the names of "Kings of the Picts", and this may contain tal-, an element traditionally meaning "brow" found in Welsh names such as Tallwch, Talhaearn and Taliesin.
Of further relevance is [Tolarggan] Maphan, the name of a Pict documented in the Annals of Ulster to have died in 726. Maphan is generally adjudged to be a Pictish patronymic formation *map-Han, employing the Pictish form of Welsh map, "a son, (in names) son of-".
--
The presence of P-Celtic loanwords in Gaelic (including in Gaelic place-names) and even Scots/English further evidences the presence of Brittonic in the formerly Pictish lands:
• The Gaelic monadh, meaning variably "a moor/heath" or "hill/mountain", is believed to have originated with Brittonic mönɨð (> Welsh mynydd, "a mountain").
• The word preas, typically meaning "a bush", is thought to represent the borrowing into Gaelic of a Pictish analogue of Welsh prys, of a similar meaning.
• Most Pit- place-names in Scotland are suffixed by Gaelic elements and personal-names, and thus were probably coined in that language (in fact, there are no assured authentically Pictish examples). Middle Gaelic piet meaning "a portion or share of land" is likely to have originated from a Pictish cognate of Welsh peth ("a thing, a piece, a share"). Lewis Gaelic retained the word, at least until recent times, the sense developing to "a small area of ground".
•• It is thought that the same Pictish word entered the English language (by way of British Vulgar Latin) as the word peat, the name of a soil-like mineral mined by cutting into smaller pieces.
• Pailt, meaning "plentiful, numerous", is in origin Pictish and analogous to Cornish pals, Middle Welsh pallt, "plenteous, abounding" (< Brittonic *palt).
• Keir is an Old Scots noun, meaning "(ancient) ramparts", and may originate with a Pictish cognate of Welsh caer, "fort". Scots keir, as a toponymic element, is bestowed most often upon Roman fortifications, akin to both the Welsh caer and Old English ceaster (> chester).
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It is also believed that Pictish cognates of Gaelic words may have influenced the usage, in particular the toponymic usage, of said words; in this regard accounting for a number of the divergences betwixt the Q-Celtic of Ireland and Scotland:
• Place names containing Fetter- (Fetterangus, Fettercairn, Fetteresso, etc) are derived from Gaelic foithir, a cognate of Middle Welsh godir , a type of administrative division (< proto-Celtic uɸo-, "under-" + tīros, "land"), may have been influenced by Pictish administrative usage of the equivalent word *uotir; the Gaelic word has a principal sense of "terrace", but names with the element occur both as formerly high-status names, and in locations where this would be inappropriate, and Fetter- place-names are rare outside Pictland and non-existent in Galloway, Ireland or Mann.
• Dobhar, traditionally meaning "water", is common in Scottish river-names, as are its Brittonic cognates (duβr > W dŵr, Corn/Bret dour) throughout Britannia -- but in Ireland and Mann, instances are few-and-far-between. Use of the Brittonic form by Pictish-speakers may, therefore, have reinforced usage of the Gaelic form.
• Lann- is a Gaelic noun that is well-established in Scots place-names. The Old Irish sense is chiefly "a plot of land", whereas in Middle Gaelic, lann is recorded with the auxiliary connotation of "a church" and occurs, in place-names, rather copiously with names of saints -- Lumphinnans and Lumphannan (both Saint Fhìonain), Lhanbryde (Saint Brigid), Longmorn (Lann M'Eàrnain: Saint Earnain) -- reminiscent of the sense of the Welsh cognate llan- ("a church or parish"), normally found in-prefix to saint's names (Llanrwst is "parish of Saint Grwst", for instance); similar senses are found in both Cornish and Breton (the Cumbric sense is unclear). In view of the Gaelic lann having connotations closer to its more distant Welsh cognate than its Old Irish predecessor, a reasonable presumption is that the Gaelic sense in-question represents an adoption of the Brittonic sense, as used by Pictish-speakers of the equivalent word. The lion's share of Lann- names lie within former Pictavia, of which a number might have been Pictish coinages originally. In Irish toponymy, the word is absent.
• Strath- is a common place-name element in Scotland (Strathspey, Strathearn, Strathmore, etc), an anglicization of Gaelic srath. In Old Irish, this word typically meant "a grassland". However, the Scottish Gaelic toponymic sense is "a broad valley" which resembles far greater the meaning of its Welsh cognate ystrad ("a vale"). It is thus probable that the Pictish cognate of ystrad influenced the toponymic usage of its more distant Gaelic cognate.
--
In summary, while the Pictish language may have vanished in ancient times and thus will always invoke an aura of mystery, its remnants allow us to draw inference as to its origin. Pictish inscriptions and names both geographical and personal, as well as its influence on languages around it, demonstrate that it was P-Celtic in nature and aligned to the Brittonic languages.


Last edited by SlashNBurn on Thu Apr 23, 2020 12:56 am, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Pictish links
PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 4:24 pm 
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Thank you SlashNBurn for this detailed post. I'll have another better look at it later. Pictish is a big mystery making Norn look like Latin (well, almost!) compared to it, but this is something where I've long wanted to improve my knowledge. Shame I don't know any P-Celtic language, so I'm not able to discuss it substantially.


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 Post subject: Re: Pictish links
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:04 pm 
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You're very welcome Hnolt!
Picts, and their language especially, is something I've spent a lot of time investigating, and its something I like discussing at length. Of course, for all I know of Pictish, I am in great debt to the efforts of past linguists, toponymists and historians, in particular Katherine Forsyth, John Koch (to whom I am particularly grateful for their work on Pictish inscriptions), Kenneth Jackson, William Watson and Simon Taylor.

Works of theirs are of essential reading for anyone interested in Pictish.

Pictish is mysterious indeed. So much so that, when the “Pictish Question” first began to be answered, which accelerated particularly post-1750, a great plethora of theories at total odds with one-another emerged regarding the nature and classification of the language: asserting that it it was Gaelic, Brittonic, Gaulish, Germanic and non-Indo European.
• The most easy hypothesis to dispose of was the Germanic one. This asserted that the Picts were ethno-linguistically Germanic, and their language, supposedly an early introduction from Scandinavia, comprised a significant element of the modern Scots tongue. The theory had extremely flimsy linguistic “evidence” (the ludicrous notion of aber as in "Aberdeen" being cognate to German über, "over", instead of British aber, "estuary", for instance), and was resultant largely of anti-Celtic bias of 18th-century eccentrics such as John Pinkerton.
• The Gaelic theory stated simply that the language of the Picts was Q-Celtic in nature and the genetic predecessor to the Gaelic of the day. This theory was the orthodox view in the 19th-century, but fell out of favour rapidly in the later part of the century and more so in the next century. Reasons for this including the comprehensive surveys of Scots toponymy revealing place-names in Pictland etymologised far more convincingly by P-Celtic than Q-Celtic, and Alexander MacBain's etymological work on Scottish Gaelic deducing that several lemmas had a P-Celtic origin. Gaelic was, furthermore, simply unable to elucidate many tribal and personal names of the Picts.
• The non-Indo European theory claimed Pictish to be a remnant of the non-IElanguage extant in Britain during the Iron Age, before the introduction of Celtic; some even aligning Pictish to modern Basque (a mysterious language in itself). This theory was borne chiefly out of the “unintelligible” Pictish Ogham inscriptions.
•• The non-IE theory fell together with the theory of Pictish being Brittonic - the “Two Pictishes” hypothesis insisted that a non-IE Pictish and a Brittonic Pictish coexisted - “accounting” for both the supposed unintelligibility of the inscriptions, and the P-Celtic toponymy, regent-names and loan-words. For a significant portion of the 20th-century, “Two Pictishes” would enjoy the most widespread acceptance.
•• The later 20th-century (post-1970) would witness an ameliorated understanding of both Ogham and the Celtic languages. From these advancements, many Ogham inscriptions, written-off previously as “unintelligible”, would now receive fresh analysis, and be explained very plausibly by P-Celtic solutions. The new evidence would see the "basis" for the view of a significant non-IE linguistic element among the Picts significantly undermined -- shifting mainstream opinion to a view that a P-Celtic tongue has been the sole dialect of Pictland.
- - - - - - - -
The possibility of a contact-relationship between Pictish and Norn is something that I find somewhat thought-provoking. Orkney and Shetland were decidedly Pictish before Norse colonisation in the 870s — thus, as the Burrian, Lunnasting and Cunningsburgh inscriptions stand to further testify, the Pictish language was absolutely present in the Northern Isles. Consequently, the question of whether Pictish left its mark on Norn naturally arises. In light of the corpus of Pictish loan-words in Gaelic, it is far from out of the question that the same could have been true of Norn. Since so little of Norn is safely attested, it is unlikely that we’ll ever have a categorical answer, but surely it remains very much a possibility?


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 Post subject: Re: Pictish links
PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2020 11:37 am 
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Hey guys,

just wanted to chime in here from an historical perspective rather than a strictly linguistic one. This discussion is really interesting. My understanding of the Picts historically is that they came from the Iberian peninsula before the Scots and Irish (Gaels) arrived in the British Isles. If that is true then the search for the Pictish language may be similar to the discussion of the pre-Latin and pre-'Celtic' Iberian peninsula languages like Iberian, Aquitanian and Basque. If as many believe the Picts are related to the Basques (they have a highland games in Basque country fyi!) then the history of the Iberian languages there may be instructive. What happened was that the Iberians got there first and dug themselves in. Then shortly afterwards the mainstream of what we would call 'Celtic' civilisation arrived, bringing with it the interrelated Celtic languages. These newer Celtic languages largely displaced the Iberian languages as they were more useful in interracting with the wider Celtic world. The Iberians, though they were still there ethnically, largely adopted the language of the newer Celtic culture that had moved in (except for the Basques and Aquitanians). It is quite possible that something similar happened with the Picts. i.e. they had their own language originally, but long usage had seen them convert to using a form of the more common P-Celtic by the time of the Dark Ages, as it was more convenient.

Will


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