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Celtic connections

The six Celtic languages currently spoken are divided into two branches: Goidelic or Gaelic, and Brythonic or British. The former branch consists of Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic, while the latter branch includes Welsh, Cornish and Breton. While there are many similarities between the languages in each branch, there are fewer similiarities between the two branches as they have had thousands of years to grow apart.

Differences in spelling and sound changes can disguise related words, but there are quite a few cognates that appear in most or all of the Celtic languages. In some cases the words in one language might be archaic or only used in place names, and more cognates can be found in earlier versions of the the languages. Some words are cognate within each branch of the Celtic languages, but not between the branches.

Words marked with an asterisk are archaic and/or used only in place names. The Cornish words shown are in Common Cornish (Kernewek Kemmyn). The Breton words are in Peurunvan/Modern Standard Spelling.

Sound changes

Cognates that appear in all or most of the Celtic languages

Adjectives | Pronouns | Verbs | People | Animals | Birds | Fish | Parts of the body | Colours | Numbers | Time expressions | Musical terms | Other words

Animals and other creatures

Gaeilge
(Irish)
Gàidhlig
(Gaelic)
Gaelg
(Manx)
Cymraeg
(Welsh)
Kernewek
(Cornish)
Brezhoneg
(Breton)
English
ainmhithe ainmhidh baagh, cretoor anifail, creadur, mil enyval, best aneval, loen animal, beast
asal asal assyl asyn asen azen ass, donkey
béar arth, muc-abhainn, rustag, ursa maghouin arth ors arzh bear
broc broc brock broch, mochyn daear, mochyn bychan, pry llwyd brogh broc'h badger
cat cat kayt cath kath kazh cat
connín coinean conning cwningen conyn c'honikl rabbit (coney)
coo ci ki ki dog, hound
dobahrcú dobhar-chù dooarchoo dwrgi, dyfrgi dowrgi dourgi otter
fia fiadh feeaih carw karow karv deer
gabhar gobhar goayr gafr gaver gavr goat
gráinneog gràineag graynoge draenog sort heureuchin, avalaouer, kulier hedgehog
iora, madra crainn toghmall, feòrag, ir roddan biljagh gwiwer gwiwer gwiñver, kazh-koad squirrel
luchóg luch lugh llygoden logosenn logodenn mouse
mac-tíre, faolchú, madra alla sagh'ic-tìre, sidheach, siogach, uilbh filliu, moddey oaldey blaidd bleydh bleiz wolf
muc muc muc mochyn mogh moc'h pig
nathair nathair (aarnieu, ardnieu) neidr nader naer snake
seangán seangan, moirb, caora-chòsag sniengan morgrugyn merion ant
sionnach, madra rua sionnach, rainche shynnagh cadno, llwynog lowarn louarn fox
eallach eallaidh ollagh buwch bugh buoc'h cattle
tarbh tarbh tarroo tarw tarow tarv bull
booa buwch bugh buoc'h cow
lao laogh lheiy llo lugh leue calf
capall (each) cabbyl ceffyl margh marc'h horse
stail greadhair collagh, grihder march, stalwyn margh marc'h stallion
láir làir laair caseg kazeg mare
searrach searrach sharragh ebol ebeul foal
caora caora keyrrey dafad davas dañvad sheep
reithe reithe, rùda, rùta rea hwrdd, maharen maout ram
caora caora bheanan, caora-uain, crog, othaisg oasht dafad, mamog dañvadez ewe
uan uan eayn oen oan lamb

Notes

  • means hound in Irish - dog is madra
  • * Words with an asterisk are archaic or obsolete

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If you would like to make any corrections or additions to this page, or if you can provide recordings, please contact me.

Links

Stòr-fhaclan Co-dhàimheil Ceilteach (Database of Celtic cognates)
http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/faclair/scc/lorg.php

McBain's Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language
http://www.ceantar.org/Dicts/MB2/

MAGUS: Multilingual Animal Glossary of Unveiled Synonyms
http://www.informatika.bf.uni-lj.si/magus-celtic&basque.html

Other pages about Celtic languages


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