Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Italo-Celtic Hypothesis

As I mentioned in the last post, I wrote a series of short papers--essentially exercises in comprehension and mental processing. The first concerns the proposed unity of the Celtic and Italic branches of the Indo-European language family prior to their separation into distinct language branches (cf. Indo-Iranian) This hypothesis is based on a number of shared innovations (and, perhaps, retentions), some of which are unique to Celtic and Italic. The paper is a brief examination of the evidence. An excerpt from the introduction:
The Italo-Celtic hypothesis, an Indo-European subgroup uniting Italic and Celtic into a single entity, has, since its inception in 1861 (Lottner Kuhns Beitr├Ąge 2.309 ff.), sufficiently intrigued generations of scholars as to gain a kind of cyclical immortality. This sort of immortality is not without death; on the contrary, the theory has perished many times,1 but has always been resurrected—including, notably, by Cowgill 1970 from Watkins 1966.2 The principal appeal of this and other theories of subgrouping lies in their contribution toward the resolution of a question fundamental in Indo-European studies, as framed by Watkins: “wie es eigentlich gewesen?” (1966: 29). An intermediate Italo-Celtic subgroup, existing in the vast temporal grey space between Proto-Indo-European and its relevant end-points, i.e., the daughter languages of the separate Italic and Celtic subgroups, provides valuable insight as to the process.
For the interested, the entire paper can be found here.

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