Celtic, English, and Norse in Contact


This course runs for the first time in 20152016 (but will probably run every other year). It has three main objectives:

  • An introduction to Celtic linguistics, via familiarizing students with the structural properties of Celtic languages
  • An brief introduction to the study of language contact, with particular attention to criteria used to diagnose contact features
  • A discussion of various ways in which Celtic and North Germanic languages interacted with each other and with English in the British Isles

This course presupposes no knowledge of any modern or ancient Celtic language. However, it is also open to students pursuing Honours degrees in Celtic, as long as they have passed one of the second-year Gaelic courses — while some of the linguistic concepts may require a bit of effort (especially if you haven’t taken at least LEL1 in pre-Honours), much of the language material will be familiar or sufficiently similar to Gaelic.

Check this page later for a course handbook. In the meantime, here is a preliminary weekly plan (subject to change with extreme prejudice):

  1. Introduction and the historical setting
    1. Celtic and the Anglo-Saxon conquest
    2. Celtic and English in the Middle Ages. The Norse presence in England, Scotland, and Ireland
    3. Language shift. ‘Celtic Englishes’
  2. Celtic language structures: Old Irish. Modern Irish phonology and morphosyntax
  3. Celtic language structures: Scottish Gaelic. Middle Welsh. Modern Welsh phonology
  4. Celtic language structures: Modern Welsh morphosyntax. Cornish and Breton. An introduction to language contact
  5. Sociolinguistic complexity and types of language contact. Diagnosing historical contact. Class test (worth 30% of the mark)
  6. The Celtic hypothesis: was Early English influenced by Celtic?
  7. Contact with Norse: North Germanic and English. The Norse influence and Gaelic.
  8. Celtic Englishes: Irish English. Scotland.
  9. Celtic Englishes: Welsh English. Cornwall and Brittany. Summary

The remaining 70% of the mark will be assessed by a final essay of 3,000 words, to be written between the end of teaching and the start of the exam period.

See LASC10092 on DRPS.

Check out the course handbook.

About me

I’m Pavel Iosad, and I’m a Senior Lecturer in the department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. ¶ You can always go to the start page to learn more.



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