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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

Adjectives

Gaeilge
(Irish)
Gàidhlig
(Gaelic)
Gaelg
(Manx)
Cymraeg
(Welsh)
Kernewek
(Cornish)
Brezhoneg
(Breton)
English
mór mòr mooar mawr
(bras)
meur
(bras)
meur
(bras)
big
large
beag beag beg bach
bychan
byghan bihan small
ard àrd ard ardd
(uchel)
arth
(ughel)
arz
(uhel)
high
isel ìosal ishil isel isel izel low
leathan leathann lhean llydan ledan ledan wide
broad
caol caol keyl cul kul strizh narrow
deas deas jesh braf
hyfryd
neis
teg
brav
brav nice
maith math mie da
(mad*)
da
(mas*)
mat good
droch droch drogh drwg drog drouk bad
mear mear merre miri
llawen
meri
lowenek
laouen merry
mad
merriment
fun
saor saor seyr rhydd
rhad
rydh
dhe wari
digoust
marc'hadmat
free
cheap
daor daor deyr drud ker koustus expensive
nua nuadh noa newydd nowydh nevez new
úr ùr oor ir
iraidd
newydd
yr
kro
fresk fresh
new
óg òg aeg ifanc yowynk yaouank young
sean sean shenn hen hen hen
kozh
old
bodhar bodhar bouyr byddar bodhar bouzar deaf

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Pronouns

Gaeilge
(Irish)
Gàidhlig
(Gaelic)
Gaelg
(Manx)
Cymraeg
(Welsh)
Kernewek
(Cornish)
Brezhoneg
(Breton)
English
mi mee i/fi/mi me me I
thu oo ti ty te you (sg)
è eh fe/fo/ef ev he
i ee hi hy hi she
muid, sinn sinn shin ni ni ni we
sibh sibh siu chi, chwi hwi c'hwi you (pl)
siad iad ad nhw, hwy, hwynt i int they

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Verbs

Gaeilge
(Irish)
Gàidhlig
(Gaelic)
Gaelg
(Manx)
Cymraeg
(Welsh)
Kernewek
(Cornish)
Brezhoneg
(Breton)
English
bee bod bos bezañ to be
déan dèan jean gwneud gul ober to do
téigh rach goll mynd mos mont to go
mair
cónaigh
beò bieau byw byw bevañ to live
labhair labhair loayrt llefaru leverel komz to speak
abair abair
can
abbyr
gra
dweud leverel
medhes
lavaret to say
caint bruidhinn caaynt siarad kewsel komz to talk
abair
can
cas (amhrán)
seinn
gabh (òran)
gow arrane
cronnaney
canu kana kanañ to sing
feic faic faik gweld gweles gwelet to see
amharc
feic
coimhead jeeaghyn
cur shilley
cur geeck
gweld mires gwelet to look
codladh cadal cadley cysgu koska kousket to sleep
léigh leughagh lhiah darllen redya lenn to read
ith ith ee bwyta
difa*
dybri debriñ to eat
mol mol moyll mawl
moliant
meuleudi to praise
ól òl iu
oyl
yfed eva evañ to drink
siúil siubhail shooill cerdded kerdhes kerzhout to walk
rith ruith roie rhedeg resek redek to run
léim leum lheim llamu lamma lam to jump
seas seas shass sefyll sevel sevel to stand
suigh siudhe soie eistedd esedha sichañ to sit
nigh nee ymolchi omwolghi gwalc'hiñ
golc'hiñ
to wash
lorg lorg lurg chwilio hwilas klask to search
loisc losgadh lostey llosgi leski leskiñ to burn
moladh moladh moylley moli
canmol
gormel
kanmel
meuliñ to praise
tacht tachd toghtey (ys)tagu taga tagañ to choke

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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/

Other pages about Celtic languages