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IE Language 1, Requirement 2

Based on what you understand about the language studied, linguistics in general, and your knowledge of the associated culture(s), briefly describe how the characteristics of the language may reflect the attributes, history or values of the associated culture(s). (minimum 300 words)

Our most valuable source of the Gaulish language is the Coligny Calendar, which gives us a lot of information regarding Gaulish cosmology. The year was divided into lunar months on a solar year, with two primary seasons: "Samon" or summer, and "Gamon" or winter. Samon seems to have lasted three nights (samon trinux is the inscription), and helps to indicate that the "night before the day" configuration of time, which was verified by Caesar, who stated that the Celts believe that the night preceded the day.

The use of Greek letters in inscriptions indicates that contact occurred with the Greeks, as well as a reasonable level of literacy despite Caesar's assertion that there was a Druidic prohibition against writing down anything. This idea that the Celts were literate is supported by the fact that Caesar was worried that his communications would be intercepted.

Ordinals one through ten indicate a base-ten numbering system, but we cannot prove this (information may simply be lacking), which is important when considering contact, as Germanic language had a base-twelve number system that seems to have developed away from the Gaulish numbering system, which indicates that contact was after the languages had branched off.

Short inscriptions that can best be described as "love notes" indicate a general familiarity with literacy among young women in later Gaul (as illiteracy would make it difficult to seduce a woman with written words). These make up a reasonable percentage of our known inscriptions, and so should not be treated as exceptions.

P-Celtic distribution indicates a split between the continent and the islands early on, and also indicates that the islands had a closer affinity for the Iberian Celts, which makes for interesting ideas of migration.

In short, we can see and learn a lot from looking at the extant inscriptions, even if they are few and far between.


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