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Are you sure Breton is in the continental branch? I have a vague feeling it belongs in one of the insular branches, due to it being the language of comparitively recent refugees from Britain. But i'm not sure enough of this to jump in and fix it. Anyone know for sure?

No, it is, although it does bear striking similarities to Cornish?, as they are both from the same root stock. sjc
The Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics calls Breton Insular and Brythonic. There are no living speakers of Continental Celtic languages, according to it.
Mea culpa, I am still living in the Bronze Age; this is obviously a technical usage of the term Continental. Breton is very definitely Brythonic; but is Brythonic (or Goidelic for that matter) insular? Given that the language was carried by the Celtic travellers to what is now Britain across dry land (or nearly dry land... or a narrow strait... someone will probably know the exact point of separation of Britain from the continent!) I had assumed that both Brythonic and Goidelic were Continental given their point of origin. sjc
It's technical terminology. By definition, Brythonic and Goidelic are Insular and not Continental. The issue is muddied by the fact that Breton speakers are found on "The Continent", but that it is not "Continental" in the technical sense of the term. The difference, I suppose, is that while it's entirely reasonable to assume that Insular Celtic languages evolved from Continental ones(*), the events causing this occurred too far in the past for anyone to be sure. The appearance of Breton is much more recent, and I believe is actually historically attested.

(*) One theory of Goidelic origins is that it evolved from Celt languages and cultures in Iberia, so we need to be careful here. There may be no direct descent from Continental (i.e., Gaulish "French" Celtic) languages at all. --PaulDrye

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Last edited August 21, 2001 8:49 pm by PaulDrye (diff)