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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

Other words

Gaeilge
(Irish)
Gàidhlig
(Gaelic)
Gaelg
(Manx)
Cymraeg
(Welsh)
Kernewek
(Cornish)
Brezhoneg
(Breton)
English
abhainn abhainn awin afon avon aven (stêr) river
agus agus as a/ac hag ha/hag and
ainm ainm ennym enw hanow anv name
anáil anail ennal anadl anal anal breath
anseo an-seo ayns shoh yma omma amañ here
ansin an-sin ayns shen yna ena aze there
ansiúd (thall ansin) an-siud ayns shid draw
acw
yn tre ahont yonder
aois aois eash oes
oed
oes oad age
atha àth aae / aah rhyd rys red ford
baile baile balley tref
beili
tre kêr town
bailey
beatha beatha beghey bywyd bywnans buhez life
bia biadh bee bwyd buit boued food
bith* (domhain) bith (domhain) (seihll
dowan)
byd bys bed world
bórd
tábla
bòrd boayrd bwrdd
bord
bord bourzh
taol
table
brí brìgh bree bri bry bri strength
energy
force
Cáisg Càisg Caisht Pasg Pask Pask Easter
cáis càise caashey caws keus keuz
formaj
cheese
carraig carraig carrick carreg karrek karreg stone
rock
cesair
cloch sneachta
clach-mheallain
clach-shneachd
sniaghtey garroo cesair
cenllysg
keser grizilh
kazarc'h
grizilhad
hail
cill cill keeill cell kell (hermit's) cell
church
cistin cistin kishteen cegin kegin kegin kitchen
cliath cliath cleea clwyd kloes kloued hurdle
coll coll coull cyll koll kelvez hazel (tree)
cnó cnò cro cnau know kraoñ nut
cnoc cnoc cronk cnwc
(bryn)
knegh (torgenn) hill(ock)
dobhar*
(uisce)
dobhar*
(uisge)
dooar*
(ushtey)
dŵr dowr dour water
eaglais eaglais agglish eglwys eglos iliz church
fáilte fàilte failt (croeso) dynnargh donet mat welcome
fíor fìor feer gwir gwir gwir true
gort
(wheatfield)
gort
(enclosure
small field
)
garth
(hill
enclosure
)
gardd
(garden)
orth garth field
garden
enclosure
grian grian grian greian* (haul) howl heol sun
ím ìm eem (y)menyn amanyn amann butter
inbhear aber aber aber aber aber estuary
lann lann lann llan lann lan church
parish
building
leabhar leabhar lioar llyfr lyver levr book
léine léine lheiney crys krys krez shirt
lus lus lus llysiau les
losow
louzaouen plant
herb
muir muir mooir môr mor mor sea
Nollaig Nollaig Nollick Nadolig Nadelik Nedeleg Christmas
olann olann ollan gwlân gwlan glaon wool
póg pòg paag poc* (cusan
sws)
pok kiss
scamall
néal
baideal
neul
bodjal
neeal
cwmwl
niwl
kommol
niwl
koumoulenn
nivlenn
cloud
mist
seo seo shoh hwn
hon
hyn
mañ this
siabhainn*
sópa
gallúnach
siabhann sheeabin sebon sebon soavon soap
sin sin shen hwnnw
honno
hynny
homma
honna
se that
siúd siud shid draw
acw
ahont yon
that
sliabh sliabh slieau mynydd menydh menez mountain
spiorad spiorad spyrryd ysbryd speris speret spirit
ghost
sùgh soo
soolagh
sudd
sug
súgan soubenn juice
sap
soup
táille taille tailley tâl
talaith
tal tailh fare
fee
tally
teach taigh thie chi ti house
teaghlach teaghlach lught thie
mooinjer thielagh
teulu teylu tiegezh family
teanga teanga çhengey iaith
tafod
yeth
taves
yezh
teod
language
tongue
uaimh uaimh oghe
ooig
ogof fow
gogo
kav
mogow
kavarn
groc'h
mougev
megin
cave
úll ubhal ooyl afal aval aval apple

Notes

  • Words in brackets are the more common forms, or non-cognates
  • Sea is also farraige is Irish, fairge is Scottish Gaelic, and faarkey in Manx.
  • Man is also fear is Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and fer in Manx.
  • brí = strength, energy, force, significance, meaning (GE)
  • bourzh = deck/bridge (of a ship), taol = table (BR)
  • bugul = shepherd, bugel = child (BR)
  • lu = army (BR)

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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


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