Cisalpine Gaulish

The Celtic Cisalpine Gaulish inscriptions are frequently combined with the Lepontic inscriptions under the term Celtic language remains in northern Italy. While it is possible that the Lepontians were autochthonous to northern Italy since the end of the 2nd millennium BC, it is well-known that the Gauls invaded the regions north of the river Po in several waves since the 5th century BC. They apparently took over the art of writing from the Lepontians, including some of the orthographic peculiarities. There are only about half a dozen Cisalpine Gaulish inscriptions, three of which are longer than just one or two words. The inscriptions stem largely from the area south of the Lepontians.[2][3]

Cisalpine Gaulish
RegionCisalpine Gaul
Extinctca. 1st century BC?
Language codes
ISO 639-3xcg

There is ongoing debate over whether Cisalpine Gaulish is a dialect of Gaulish (e.g. Schumacher 2004),[4] or a historical or dialectical continuation of Lepontic (e.g. Eska 2010). In the latter case, the term Cisalpine Celtic refers to the two together, contrasting with Transalpine Celtic (traditionally Transalpine Gaulish) for the Celtic language on the other side of the Alps.

Lepontic compared to Cisalpine Gaulish

Common features (not in Transalpine Gaulish)

1. nn rather than Transalpine Gaulish *nd: *ande- > -ane-, *and(e)-are- > an-are-, ?*and-o-kom- > ano-Ko-

2. nt rather than Transalpine Gaulish *nt: *kom-bog(i)yos > -Ko-PoKios, Quintus → KuiTos, *arganto- > arKaTo-, *longam > loKan

3. s(s) rather than Transalpine Gaulish *χs: *eχs > es in es-aneKoti, es-oPnos[3]

Differences between Cisalpine Gaulish and Lepontic

1. Endings in *-m# instead of Gaulish -n#: TeuoχTonion, loKan vs. Lep. Pruiam, Palam, uinom naśom (but also Cisalpine-Gaulish PoiKam, aTom [or: atoś?], and the varying use of *-m# and *-n# throughout the history of Gaulish).

2. word formation: ending of 3rd person sg./pl. preterite in -u, cp. karnitu(s) (Gaulish karnitou), versus Lepontic KariTe, KaliTe (but also Transalpine Gaulish dede)

3. Gaulish patronymic suffix is typically -ikno/a vs. Lepontic -alo-, -ala-, -al (but also mixed in Late (?) Lepontic)[3]

See also


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Cisalpine Gaulish". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Kruta, Venceslas (1991). The Celts. Thames and Hudson. pp. 52–56.
  3. Stifter, David (2008). Old Celtic Languages (PDF). pp. 24–37.
  4. Schumacher, Stefan; Schulze-Thulin, Britta; aan de Wiel, Caroline (2004). Die keltischen Primärverben. Ein vergleichendes, etymologisches und morphologisches Lexikon (in German). Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Kulturen der Universität Innsbruck. pp. 84–85. ISBN 3-85124-692-6.
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