Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
> Hallo!
> On Sun, 27 Jun 2010 18:18:17 +0100, R A Brown wrote:
>> Well, English has come close to doing that.  But even by the 
>> 7th cent, much of Brittonic speaking Britain had given way 
>> either to Gaelic or to various Norse and Saxon dialects. The 
>> Britons held on only in the western part.
> But English was not a trade jargon spoken in a few ports along
> the southern coast. 

No - sorry, I had not intended to imply - merely observing 
that the language a set of immigrant communities has led to 
the demise of 'native' languages.

> It was the language of a massive wave of
> conquerors who came to stay, and brought in their families.

The Saxons weren't very interested in trading with the Brits 
- by DNA sampling has shown that in many area there was no 
displacement of population, but rather the existing 
population took to speaking the language of their more 
powerful neighbors and/or overlords.

Something similar must have gone on in Britain (and, I 
guess, Ireland) before since there is no archaeological 
evidence the supposed 'Celtic' invasion and settlement. In 
case of the spread of the Brittonic languages trade does 
seem have played some part since there is clear evidence of 
pre-Roman trade between Britain and Gaul.

But as I understand it, some, at least, of the genetic 
evidence suggests settled population that at some stage gave 
up their ancestral language in favor of some 'proto-Celtic' 
form of IE, and later gave this up in favor of Saxon or 
Middle English (depending upon when the change took place).

>> But from what I understand the 'Celtic' languages of Britain 
>> & Gaul had morphologies more similar to what we find in 
>> Latin. The "weirdness" of Welsh, Cornish and Breton develops 
>> together with a reduction in morphology, especially with 
>> nouns, and also there's a growing tendency, which continues 
>> to the present day, to use analytical verb forms rather than 
>> synthetic ones; one could believe some degree of 
>> creolization took place.
> The Brythonic languages have lost their case system, yes, and
> have no absolute/conjunct distinction in their verbal inflections,
> though there are traces of the latter in Old Welsh. 

Yes, the reduction of case system is not dissimilar to what 
was going on in Vulgar Latin.  I wonder if this is not to do 
with creolization so much as simplification which comes 
about as the language spreads among non-L1 speakers. 
Clearly this was happening with Latin as spread across the 
Empire; something similar could have been going on as 
Brittonic was diffused across Britain.

It does not, it seems to me, to have to reflect an actual 
feature in any substrate language - there may, in case, have 
been more than one pre-IE language spoken in Britain before 
the diffusion of 'proto-Celtic'.  In any case the diffusion 
of 'Celtic' through the Britain & Ireland seems to have 
occurred in two phases.

> The tendency
> towards analytical verb forms is a fairly recent one, and cannot
> be blamed on a Pre-Celtic substratum.  

Tho it is an areal feature as the same sort of thing has 
been going on in English also - it would have been going on 
for some time in popular speech before it made its 
appearance in written documents.

> Also, I wouldn't consider
> the simplification of the PIE verb system one can see in Latin
> and other western European IE languages a case of "creolization",
> though perhaps a substratum played a role.

But the spark that began the simplification is likely to be 
the spread of the language among L2 speakers.  Interesting, 
the Latin imperfect indicative (-bam, -bas etc.) and those 
futures that ended with -bo, -bis etc appear to have began 
life as a locative of a 'verb-noun' with the verb "to be" 
derived from PIE bh- forms, i.e. a striking parallel to what 
we find in Insular Celtic and, of course, English forms such 
as "I'm a-coming", "he was a-going" etc.

All the tenses (including subjunctives) formed on the 
perfect stem, except the perfect indicative itself, are 
clearly formed either with fusions of parts of 'to be' or 
remodeled on analogy with that verb.

>> All true, indeed. Furthermore, it is not certain that when 
>> the ancients referred to 'Picti' they always meant the same 
>> people. The world merely means "painted people"! Some 
>> scholars hold that those anciently called 'Picti' were both 
>> a pre-IE people and one (or more) later Brittonic people(s).
> Sure.  And we know how little the Romans cared about ethnic and
> linguistic affinities between "barbarian" tribes.  *Anybody*
> living north of Hadrian's Wall, wearing face paint and resisting
> the Roman attempts at dominating northern Britain was a "Pict"
> to them, no matter what kind of language he spoke.  

Exactly - he was a 'painted man' (pictus). The Romans were 
certainly not listening to hear what language they spoke   :)

> Hence, it
> doesn't really make sense to speak of a "Pictish language".
> There perhaps were several - some Celtic, some not.


"'Celtic' of any sort is, nonetheless, a
magic bag, into which anything may be put,
and out of which almost anything may come
. ... Anything is possible in the fabulous
Celtic twilight, which is not so much a
twilight of the gods as of the reason."
[J.R.R. Tolkien]