So our number system is Arabic and our language is Latin? That’s the general consensus when it comes to people living in western Europe. But if our language is Latin..then what on earth is Gaelic?
Well, the English language is Latin! But Irish is something different altogether! Irish is a Celtic language, as is Scottish Gaelic, Manx Gaelic (Manx), Welsh, Breton and Cornish. The Gaelic languages come from Old Irish and the other three Celtic languages come from British. There were other Celtic languages spoken on the European Mainland, but they died out around 1,500 years ago. The Celtic languages are believed to have come from Common Celtic, which came from Indo-European itself.
We cannot be certain when Irish first came to Ireland, but many scholars believe that it was here over 2,500 years ago. It is certain that there were other languages spoken here before Irish but, by the start of the Christian era, Irish was spoken all over Ireland and was spreading through Scotland, the west coast of Britain and the Isle of Mann. The Romans called the Gaels Scotti and they eventually spread the Gaelic language throughout most of Scotland.
The oldest remains of Ancient Irish that we have are inscriptions on Ogham stones from the 5th and 6th centuries. Old Irish was first written in the Roman alphabet before the beginning of the 7th century which makes Irish the oldest written vernacular language north of the Alps.
While Ogham isn’t believed to be a language used in day to day conversation, it was used more for ritualistic purposes, found on tombstones. Ogham is an alphabet like the Roman alphabet found today.
For a comprehensive look at the letters in Ogham, have a look here: http://www.ancientscripts.com/ogham.html
Well there you go! Ogham is as unique to the Irish as a jumbo breakfast roll! While it is a language of sorts, it was only believed to be used in ritual writing!
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