Language is one of the defining characteristics of the Celtic identity. This is because the Celtic languages are very distinct from the others in the Indo-European family, namely the Germanic (e.g. English, German) and Romance (e.g. French, Italian, Spanish) tongues.
The Celtic languages themselves can be split into two groups; Continental (spoken on the European continent) and Insular (spoken in the British Isles and Brittany in France). The former are long extinct but the latter are very much still alive, albeit in varying degrees of health. That makes language a powerful cultural glue in the Celtic nations.
Four of the six Insular Celtic languages – Irish, Welsh, Gaelic and Breton – are described as ‘living languages'. Cornish and Manx went extinct in the modern era, but efforts to revive and promote the languages have been a key tool for reawakening Celtic identity in those areas.
Here you’ll learn about each of those six separate, but connected languages. We also look at the people and organisations keeping them alive, promoting them and encouraging a new generation of Celts to embrace their roots through learning their native tongue. And we’ll also hear directly from those in the front lines of the Celtic language world.