[Discussion] The substratum in Insular Celtic
Ranko Matasović (University of Zagreb, rmatasov@ffzg.hr)
Journal of Language Relationship, № 8, 2012 - p.153-159
The discussion focuses on the problem of pre-Celtic substratum languages in the British Islands. The article by R. Matasović begins by dealing with the syntactic features of Insular Celtic languages (Brittonic and Goidelic): the author analyses numerous innovations in Insular Celtic and finds certain parallels in languages of the Afro-Asiatic macrofamily. The second part of his paper contains the analysis of that particular part of the Celtic lexicon which cannot be attributed to the PIE layer. A number of words for which only a substratum origin can be assumed is attested only in Brittonic and Goidelic. The author proposes to reconstruct Proto-Insular Celtic forms for this section of the vocabulary. This idea encounters objections from T. Mikhailova, who prefers to qualify common non-Celtic lexicon of Goidelic and Brittonic as parallel loanwords from the same substratum language. The genetic value of this language, however, remains enigmatic for both authors.
Keywords: Pre-Celtic substratum, Goidelic, Brittonic, Insular Celtic, classification of Celtic languages, etymology, reconstruction, loanwords, wandering words