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Academic Paper


Title: Special Issue on Re-Evaluating the Celtic Hypothesis
Author: Markku Filppula
Institution: University of Eastern Finland
Author: Juhani Klemola
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://uta.fi/~juhani.klemola
Institution: University of Tampere
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Linguistic Theories
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Present-day historians of English are widely agreed that, throughout its recorded history, the English language has absorbed linguistic influences from other languages, most notably Latin, Scandinavian, and French. What may give rise to differing views is the nature and extent of these influences, not the existence of them. Against the backdrop of this unanimity, it seems remarkable that there is one group of languages for which no such consensus exists, despite a close coexistence between English and these languages in the British Isles spanning more than one and a half millennia. This group is, of course, the Insular Celtic languages, comprising the Brittonic subgroup of Welsh and Cornish and the Goidelic one comprising Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic. The standard wisdom, repeated in textbooks on the history of English such as Baugh and Cable (1993), Pyles & Algeo (1993), and Strang (1970), holds that contact influences from Celtic have always been minimal and are mainly limited to Celtic-origin place names and river names and a mere handful of other words. Thus, Baugh & Cable (1993: 85) state that ‘outside of place-names the influence of Celtic upon the English language is almost negligible’; in a similar vein, Strang (1970) writes that ‘the extensive influence of Celtic can only be traced in place-names’ (1970: 391).

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 13, Issue 2.

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