Within Indo-European, the Celtic languages are most closely related to the Italic languages, with which they may form the Celto-Italic branch.
Celtic is split into two branches:
- Continental -- Celtiberian, Galatian, Noric, Gaulish, Lepontic, and perhaps including one dialect of Breton, which would be the only living language in this branch.
- Insular, which is further split into:
The differences between P and Q languages are most easily seen in the word for son, mac
in Q (hard K sound) and map
in P languages. P-languages have a slightly simpler structure and may be younger than the Q-languages.
Characteristics of Celtic Languages
Although there are many differences between the individual Celtic languages they do show many family resemblences. While none of these characteristics is necessarily unique to the Celtic languages, there are few if any other languages which possess them all. They include:
- Initial consonant mutation.
- Inflected prepositions.
- VSO word order as standard.
- Two grammatical genders.
- Definite but no indefinite article.
- Genitive construction by apposition.
- Counting by twenties.
Ná bac le mac an bhacaigh is ní bhacfaigh mac an bhacaigh leat.
Not pay-attention to son the beggar's and nor will-pay-attention son the beggar's to-you.
pedwar ar bymtheg ar bedwar hugain
- bhacaigh is the genitive of bacach. The i is the genitive inflection; the bh is a mutation.
- leat is the second person form of the preposition le.
- The order is VSO in the second half.
four on fifteen on four twenties
- bymtheg is a mutated form of pymtheg, which is pump five plus deg ten. Likewise, bedwar is mutated from pedwar.
- The multiples of ten are deg, ugain, deg ar hugain, deugain, hanner cant, trigain, deg a thrigain, pedwar hugain, deg a phedwar ugain, cant.