The Iextis — that is language — is a big part of Bessus Nouiogalation. It informs how we learn and develop custom greatly, as it seeks to develop along the lines of Galatibessus, which centres Gaulish worldview in development. This is why the language is so important, and is privileged over English in our articles and server. After all, English gets plenty of privileges as is.
Without a doubt, learning Gaulish is difficult due to conflicting reconstructions of the tongue, and uncertainties amongst what we do know. As Bessus Nouiogalation means “Custom of the New Galatîs” or “Neo Gaulish Custom”, it is of prime importance that we provide an outlet to help folks who want to put a little more Gaulish in their lives. Whether or not they undergo an in depth study of the language.
The words and phrases provided will be a combination of attested Gaulish. Supplied mostly by Xavier Delamarre’s works ‘Dictionnaire de la Langue Gauloise’ and ‘Les Noms Gaulois’. Along with input from Ranko Matasovic’s ‘Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic’. With reconstructions informed also mainly by Iuomâros Cunouellauni’s Iextis Galation, and buttressed with Olivier Piquerron’s Yextis Keltika (along with the English translation thereof by Tegos Skribbatous). Other sources will be neologisms of attested and reconstructed words that we make ourselves, and pieces of other sources. The idea for this document is based off a previous document with a similar aim written for Toutâ Galation by Selguiros Caranticnos.
While referencing these works it is important to understand that the use of this tanuâ (tongue) is not to academic ends, but instead a key part of Gaulish revival. By using the language we not only remember and honour the Galatîs of the past, but solidify the Nouiogalatis identity of the present and with our greatest hope — the future.
For those not in BNG, especially fellow Galatîs, this document intends to help revive the use of at least a form of Gaulish. We cannot promise complete accuracy, but we’ve given it our best. Hopefully this document provides you with some useful Gaulish or at least Neo-Gaulish words that allow you to bring some of the language into your own life. Also, to understand some of the Gaulish phrases you may see or hear. Peruse at your leisure. All are welcomed and encouraged to participate.
Atelabâmos Iextis Galation! (We speak the Gaulish language again!)
Vowel are pretty simple. Five vowels each with two sounds. A short and long version.
It should be mentioned that regarding vowels, these are approximations. It is certain that there would have been different accents. As such, think of the vowel pronunciations as more of a guideline than a given. This allows one to see what we figure the sounds would have been. However vowel pronunciation tends to be a marker of accent and it’s okay to be different.
|Why the circumflex?|
The accent marking our long vowels here â, ê, î, ô, and û is called a circumflex. While at first the choice to use these to mark our long vowels as opposed to the usual macron like in: ā, ē, ī, ō, and ū seems a strange one. The reason why it is done here is actually to honour one of the first widespread Gaulish language reconstructions — Labarion, which used the circumflex to mark long vowels. While in Gaulsh writings and inscriptions no such marks exist, we want to honour a dialect that contributed much to the revival of Gaulish usage in the community.
There are two semi-vowels. The letters i and u. Other than their vowel sounds in the above table, they also have consonant sounds.
(For English speakers, the ‘i’ makes a ‘y’ sound. For Romance language speakers, when used as a consonant, the ‘i’ makes an English ‘y’. For other Germanic language speakers, the ‘u’ is an English ‘w’.)
A general rule for knowing when a semi-vowel is acting as a vowel, and when it is acting as a consonant is this: If there is a vowel after i or u, they are consonants. Example: Iextis, and Uediâ. The first i in iextis is a consonant, as is the u in uediâ.
|Why use i and u as semi-vowels when other reconstructions use letters like j, y, and w?|
This is for two reasons. The first being that those three letters did not exist in Gaulish. The second is that if w or y was used, it would unfairly centre English. Just as one doesn’t change the spelling of say Latin or Greek to suit another language, neither will we.
Diphthongs are vowel clusters. There are a few of these in Gaulish:
It is worth noting that these do not apply if they are at the conjunction of two words being put together to make one word (E.g. Areuiros, it’s are- then uiros).
With the consonants, they’re also quite simple to pronounce. There are a few slight variations that we’ll visit:
For English and Romance language speakers, it’s important to note that the ‘c’ is always “hard”. Always a ‘k’ sound, never an ‘s’ or ‘ç’. The ‘g’ always like (for English speakers) “get”, as it is in Latin (for those who speak Romance languages). Also, for both groups, ‘x’ is like Scottish loch or Welsh bach. It’s called a voiceless velar fricative. For Germanic language and French speakers, the ‘r’ is rolled like in Spanish.
When a consonant doubles (E.g. aballon) pronounce both (abal-lon).
Now… for the fun part!
We have gone over some basics of pronunciation, and now are ready to get into words and phrases. In this document, we aren’t really going to go over grammar as the goal of it is to get you speaking some Gaulish. Stay tuned for more about that in later installments.
There will be a few attested phrases in here, and attested words will be given preference. Neologisms will of course be necessary for words for things that didn’t exist in the time of our ancestors (E.g. Bituuegâ for ‘Internet’). Plus, we’ve made plenty such words by combining whole attested words and using prefixes, suffixes, and infixes. Along with participles and substantives.
Last thing, do not expect a literal one for one exact translation here between Gaulish and any other language. We’ll use Gaulish to convey an idea, but it doesn’t mean each word can be broken down to mean the exact same words in your usual language.
Bisiomos cintus. (We will start.)
[Example there. Cintus means “first” but we’ve worked it to mean “start”.]
|For speaking to multiple people, take the word “te” which means “you” in the accusative case (when speaking directly to someone) and replace it with “suos” (the plural form). For ease of use, this pronoun is being separated. But normally, following a verb or preposition, the pronoun would be attached to the word. E.g. uerte instead uer te, or Labâiumite instead of Labâiumi te.|
Greetings and Partings
(“Hello!” or “Goodbye!”)
(“Hello!” but for someone you know well.)
(“Health to you!” as either a toast, or as a more formal greeting.)
(“Bye!” lit. “Good wind!”)
(“I will see you again!”)
Ðironâ nessâtu te.
(“Ðironâ approach you.” This can be a morning or evening greeting/blessing.)
Alaunâ nessâtu te.
(“Alaunâ approach you.” This is a morning greeting/blessing.)
(“Good day!” This can be a usual greeting as well. Perhaps also to send someone off…)
Dercon Grannî uer te.
(“Eye of Grannos upon you.” An afternoon greeting/blessing.)
Text Related Expressions
These expressions are similar to what one sees in text messages and online chats.
Suariumi ueroxos! [suo]
(“I laugh on high!” [lol])
Brissumi exsuartû! [bexs]
(“I burst from laughing!” [rofl, lmao])
In mon dercû… [imd]
(In my eye… [imo])
Incors boccâ iton! [icbi]
(“Shut your mouth!” [stfu])
(“I know.” [ik])
Ne gniumi. [ngm]
(“I don’t know.” [idk])
Ne carâiumi. [ncm]
(“I don’t care.” [idc])
(“I love you!”)
(“I’m going to work.”)
Biie iaccos disergiosc.
(“Be you healthy and removed from sickness/pain.”)
Etic Sucellê boîtu ordon clitân!
(“And Sucellos strike hammer to post!” [Don’t let the door hit your behind on the way out!])
Immi rios exuergû.
(“I’m free from work.”)
Delge curmi imon…
(“Hold my beer…”)
(“Dêuoi with you.”)
Sagiumi mon uerouos!
(“I try my best!”)
Bratun (/Braton) te!
(“Thank you!”) [For plural, substitute “te” for “suis” or “suos”.]
Article Provided by Suturcos Nouiogalation
This is great to see, and I really enjoyed the post!
I especially liked your spelling conventions. I think they strike a great balance, being intuitive to read without being too English-centric.
I’m not familiar with Gaulish at all, so my apologies if my questions are very basic.
* I noticed in some elements of your glossary you did not attach the pronoun to the end of the verb or preposition, e.g. “Dercon Grannî uer te” or “Slanon te”. Is there a reason for this?
* Is Gaulish (ancient or modern) SVO (like English and French), VSO (like Irish and Welsh), or free-ish word order (like Latin and probably PIE)? Most of your expressions have the verb first, but they are often commands or have the subject pronoun combined with the verb, so aren’t indicative of the basic pattern. “Alaunâ nessâtu te” is SVO, though.
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I (and we) appreciate your kind words!
To answer your first question: I often do when writing them myself. If I’m texting my wife to tell her I love her, I’ll type “Lubîumite”. I didn’t here because it’s a very surface level introduction to get folks using a little more Gaulish. I may end up changing that, but I was on the fence about it so I hadn’t at the time.
To your second question: Word order was freer in Gaulish. SVO and VSO are found, I think the former was more common. Personally, I use VSO for very short sentences, and SVO for longer ones (and when the subject is a proper noun). Of course, VSO won out in Insular Celtic languages. I sought to preserve, however, these Gaulish distinctions.
All said, I’m certainly no linguist. So I do my best to synthesise various reconstructions because they each have “pros” and “cons”. As what will likely be termed something like “Nouiogalaticos” comes out, I’ll be extra sure to make those distinctions and explain it with more nuance.
Thanks for the concise overview. Is forming compound words a feature like in Greek? Latin had lost that feature for most parts.