I just looked into James again on the subject of language, and he
has a useful explanation of the origin of the idea of "Celtic" languages in
Pezron's 1703 work (in French) followed by Lhuyd's work on Welsh (1707). He
suggests that this was fortuitous since 1707 was also the year of the
Treaty of Union which created the concept of "Britain" as an inclusive name
for the members of the Union, and "Celtic" was a word used in reaction to
that, since Union was forced on the various parts of the British Isles and
not unanimously accepted.
I doubt that I'm explaining this well at all, and I do urge you to
at least browse through James. He says a great deal about language
interspersed with ethnicity and other issues in identifying the way in
which the idea of "Celtic" became established.
His main reference for the Celtic languages seems to be Ball
(1993) "The Celtic Languages," and Macauley (1992), same title. He also
lists Renfrew (1987) "Archaeology and Language."
I don't know if that clarifies things, or simply makes the stack
of unread books taller! Mine keeps growing.
At 08:05 PM 9/9/2004, you wrote:
>I have not (yet) read James' work, so my opinion is based solely on the book
>description found on Amazon.
>As a master's student in linguistics (by which I include sociolinguistics
>and discourse analysis), I am not completely adverse to the notion that our
>modern day notion of "Celticness" is a construct that is at least partially
>informed by reactions to British colonialism.
>However, I would also suggest that the awareness of a Celtic heritage that
>emerged in the 19th century could be attributed to the advent of comparative
>The identification of Irish, Scots Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton
>as "Celtic" languages is not a sociopolitical fabrication. Rather, it is the
>result of typological analysis. Therefore, I would be interested to know how
>James accounts for the linguistic data, if at all.
>As for the original question, "Celts, Irish or Gaels," my answer is "all of
>the above." The terms index concentric rings ranging from the national
>(Irish) to transnational (Gaelic/Goidelic > Celtic). From there, we can also
>go further afield to "European" and "Indo-European." The term we choose
>depend on context and the degree of specificity desired.
>On 9/9/04 1:45 PM, "Edward V. Foreman" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > On the question of the "Celtic"-ness of the Irish, there's an
> interesting book
> > by Simon James, "The Atlantic Celts," Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1999.
> James is
> > a serious scholar, a British Museum archeologist currently (1999) at Durham
> > University, so he can be taken at face value, whether you agree or not,
> > something to consider.
> > Of course the Annals of the Four Masters paint a very interesting
> > geneology for the Irish, and once again, you pays your money and takes your
> > chances. Much more fun to contemplate than "serious" inquiry, and a lot
> > more exotic.
> > EVF