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Language of the Belgae tribes[edit]

In Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, he clearly labels at least 5 Belgic tribes as fully Germanii. The Nervii, Atuatuci, Eburones, Condrusi and Paemani.Another 11 are described as being related to the Germanii. German linguist Harold Kuhn found very limited Celtic place names North of the Seine in Belgica. Oxford Proffesor David Evans, in Gaulish Personal names, admits that Belgica was probably not Celtic overall. Do we agree that several Belgic tribes spoke Germanic and not Celtic? Can we take Julius Caesar as the best 1st hand reference to Belgica? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:36, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Caesar labels exactly four tribes as Germani (not Germanii, that's a misspelling) - the Eburones, Condrusi, Caerosi and Paemani - but it is not clear from the text that he means that linguistically. Ambiorix, the rebel of the Eburones who Caesar says were unambiguously Germanic, has an unabiguously Celtic name. Caesar also makes a clear distinction between the Belgae, who had Germanic ancestry, and the Germani themselves, and he can't simply be speaking geographically as he says the Menapii had lands on both sides of the Rhine.
Tacitus later says that the Nervii and Treveri claimed Germanic rather than Gaulish ancestry - and is clearly not referring to language. The picture that emerges from Caesar and the other classical authors is of a group of peoples of Germanic (whether linguistic or merely geographic) origin who by classical times were speaking a variety of Celtic. This is not unusual - the Normans were of Scandinavian origin but were speaking French very soon after they settled in France. Language is not genetic. --Nicknack009 (talk) 09:32, 6 June 2008 (UTC)
Ambiorix is often given as an example of a Celtic leader of the Eburones, however Ambio is a Germanic root with a Celtic suffix added. This simply showed that the Germanic Belgic tribes viewed Celtic as an elite culture/language to copy. The fact Caesar tells us many were Germanic can only be based on language, Caesar would have known little of their history. Remember that the French ruled England for centuries with French names, but the language never caught on. It is to do with numbers. The number of Elite Celts in the Belgic areas was never enough for the language to catch on. To conclude that the majority of Common Belgae spoke Celt just doesn't hold. It is only a possibility. The Topynomy of Belgic Gaul is overwhelmingly Germanic, and Topynomy is higher in hiearchy to both Archaeology and History.

See a very in depth analysis of Belgic languages by Luc Van Durme at -- (talk) 08:14, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

I think that Ambio- is Celtic (See Delamarre, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, p. 42.). It means 'around' or 'enclosure'. same word as Old Irish imbe, Welsh and Breton am..The toponymy everywhere on the Belgae territories is clearly the same as everywhere in the North of Gaul and even in a part of the south, except some other elements of an archaic Indo-European or Proto-Celtic language, that is not Germanic. It is mainly Celtic, the very few elements that are Germanic can be dated back earlier in the low empire, when Germanic laeti and colonist settled, never before, and are shared by All northern Gaul, to the Loire river. The toponymy shows exactly the contrary of what Caesar wrote : no difference between Gaulish and Belgian, except some elements of this Proto-language, that is absolutly not Germanic. Nortmannus (talk) 22:49, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Caesar certainly wasn't going by language, he was going by what the Gauls told him of their history - see De Bello Gallico, 2.3-4. Other than that, I don't think we're in total disagreement. I think it's fairly clear that the Belgae were on the interface between Celtic and Germanic - and different enough from both the Galli/Celtae and the Germani not to be considered either. Caesar also draws a distinction between those Belgic groups who were actually Germani, and the majority who were mostly descended from the Germani, and in this I think he is making a linguistic distinction, because he doesn't include the Menapii among the Germani, even though he does say they had lands east of the Rhine. So it's likely that the four he names as Germani were speaking Germanic, while the rest of them weren't.
The distinction between the elite and the farming population is also an important one. I think that when Caesar speaks of, say, the Menapii or the Nervii or whichever group, he's probably only referring to a ruling aristocratic clan - similar to the early medieval Irish dynasties like the Uí Néill - rather than an ethnic group that included all strata of society. When he wiped out the Eburones, and we later find the Tungri attested in the same area, I don't think that means he exterminated the entire population of the area and another ethnic group moved in to replace them - I think he wiped out the extended family whose members dominated the region and from whom their kings were chosen, and another local aristocratic family filled the vaccuum. The peasant population stayed the same, and just paid their protection money to a new lot of robber barons.
It was also usually only the elite who raided and settled. We know that Belgic groups raided and settled in Britain in the century or so before Caesar's time, and we know they didn't take a Germanic language with them, so the elite at least were speaking Celtic by then. But Germanic toponymy doesn't necessarily mean that the farming population still spoke Germanic - many river names in England are of Celtic origin, and Celtic hasn't been spoken there for nearly 2,000 years, so it's perfectly possible for people in the Belgic region to have adopted a Celtic language and retained older, Germanic placenames. As I understand it, although Caesar says the Celtae and the Belgae had different languages, linguists have been unable to find any identifiable difference in the language of inscriptions in Celtic and Belgic Gaul (or in Britain). Toponyms will give you the oldest available evidence, but inscriptions will tell you what language was spoken at the time they were written. --Nicknack009 (talk) 10:51, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Thats a good analysis, I'd agree with the Elite certainly being Celtic, and agree that the "Germanic" element could indeed be pre-Celtic-Germanic aboriginal being squeezed in between, we dont know. The question is whether the Belgae as a whole can be referred to as "Celtic". I think that pure label is misleading and they should at best be referred to as "Celticised" or as hybrid-Celts. After all the Welsh are Anglicised, and are still being Anglicised by you cant call them English. The objection I have to calling them Celts is, at a glance many people see the "Celtic" label and are not aware of their clear independance and distinction from true Celtic tribes (possibly as well as German ones). The distinction is important due to the clear Belgic connections of South Coast England(The Saxon coast), and the hypothesis that they could well have spoken a non-celtic proto-English prior to the Roman invasion.
(With regard to British Celtic inscriptions, bear in mind that England is almost devoid of Celtic inscriptions, they are found abundantly only within Wales/Scotland/Cornwall and Cumbria, which were unquestionably Celt, but nowhere along the "Saxon Coast" areas which had close links to the near by continent, particularly Belgica, and they may have shared a non-Celtic language, presumably pre-English) -- (talk) 15:59, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
I prefer not to talk of anyone as "being Celtic", because it's ambiguous and, with the amount of nonsense published on Celtic subjects, too prone to misinterpretation. If I describe a group as being "Celtic-speaking" or "of Celtic ancestry", there's less chance of anyone getting the wrong end of the stick.
I'm not convinced by the hypothesis that the Belgae in Britain spoke a Germanic proto-English before the Roman invasion - Tacitus comments on the language in Britain being similar to that of Gaul, writes of events both in and outside the zone of Belgic influence and had a first-hand source, but never suggests there was more than one language being spoken in Britain, and the traditional histories of both the English and the Welsh, while not entirely reliable, agree that the ancestors of the English arrived after the Romans and took over lands then occupied by the ancestors of the Welsh, a unanimity that suggests at least broad accuracy. Whatever language the pre-Roman Belgae spoke, after the Roman conquests of Gaul and Britain it was marginalised by Latin and isolated from its continental cousins. I'm no expert on Germanic linguistics, but I suspect the similarities between Old English and continental Germanic languages like Icelandic (continental in the sense that Iceland was settled from Scandinavia) and Frisian don't support them having been separated for a half-millennium longer than is generally thought. --Nicknack009 (talk) 19:25, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Nicknack, I think you have a good writing style and logic... if you have sources to back it up (which is key) please add to article. Goldenrowley (talk) 19:53, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Tacitus's comment on the language in Britain being similar to Gaul, does not tell us what part of Britain or Gaul. The closest points between the two are Kent and Belgica. It is as likely that Germanic was spoken both sides of the channel at that point. Theo Vennemann believes that the High German consonant shift occurred prior to the Roman invasion of Britain, and yet English/Proto English is completely unaffected by it. Both he and Stephen Oppenheimer believe there were some proto-English speakers in South East Britain before the Romans. The concept of the so-called Anglo-Saxon wipeout has been debunked via DNA, see Oppenheimer's The Origins of the British. The British are and have always been non-receptive to language change. The Saxon invasions were no different to the Roman, Norman or Viking ones, were language had a limited impact. Gildas mislabelled all Germanic Peoples as Saxons, as is evident by his misdescription of Angles as Saxons. This was a common mistake. The Belgae would also have been called Saxons at that time in Britain. Francis Pryor is another who is sceptical of an all Celtic Britain. The Picts are known to have spoken non-Celtic as Celts needed translators to communicate with them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:48, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
If Tacitus was aware that there were both Germanic and Celtic languages spoken in Gaul and/or Britain, then he would have specified which part. Vennemann's opinion of when the High German consonant shift took place is not the mainstream view, if the Wikipedia article is anything to go by, and neither Oppenheimer (a geneticist) or Pryor (an archaeologist) have any expertise about languages.
I've never heard the phrase "Anglo-Saxon wipeout" before, but I assume it's referring to the old model of the Anglo-Saxon invasions as being similar to the European conquests of North America or Australia, where the newcomers arrived in large numbers and killed and replaced the natives. This has indeed been debunked, by archaeology long before DNA, but there are many other ways an invasion can take place and impose a language in a fairly short time without mass population replacement. I should know, I'm Irish, and my first language is English.
Norman French and Old Norse had an enormous impact on the English language. Latin had almost none except through Norman French, but had considerable impact on Welsh. Yet Welsh is spoken where Roman influence was relatively weak, and English is spoken where Britain was most Romanised. The Romans also imposed Christianity on their empire in the fourth century, but while the Welsh were strongly Christian in the post-Roman period, the English were pagan until the end of the 6th century, and a special mission had to be sent to convert them, because the Welsh weren't prepared to do it. Is it likely that the core of the Roman province would have rejected the official religion of the empire, and only the people of the western fringes acquiesced?
It's true that the Britons called all the proto-English groups "Saxons", but it doesn't follow they called all Germanic speakers Saxons. By the end of the Roman period there is no evidence that the Belgae had remained distinct from other Britons, or that those other Britons would have called them "Saxons". Cerdic and Cynric, early kings of the West Saxons, appear to have Celtic names - but "West Saxon" is what they called themselves, not what they were called by others.
Also, the consensus these days seems to be that Pictish, while distinct from Brythonic, was also a Celtic language. Old Irish and Old Welsh speakers would have needed interpreters, but both spoke Celtic languages. --Nicknack009 (talk) 13:02, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
With regard to Latin in Old English you are incorrect. There are over 140 Latin words in Old pre-norman English(see writings of Bede). This hugely contrasts with the near absence of any Celtic words which was inexplicable. Once DNA proved that the people occupying England today were generally the same as in Roman times (no Genocide), the piece of the odd puzzle fell into place. Pre Roman SouthEast Britains couldn't have been speaking Celt, but proto-English (Belgic). As happened to Welsh, Latin words had been carried into the proto language. Latin words in Welsh are quite different to those in old English. The old idea of Latin coming in via trade never fitted due to the excess of words involved. These are all ideas put across by Vennemann Pryor and Oppenheimer and many others and the consensus seems to be increasing towards it, as it solves so many riddles of English.
With regard to the Picts, the main stumbling block to them being Celt is the complete lack of Celtic Toponymy within Pictland. Even South East England apparently has it(presumably from pre-belgic inhabitants), so how is it that Pictland has none? There is certainly no consensus that they spoke Celtic. The Pict Oghams give no clue to it being Celtic either. I am part Irish and English so am completely neutral to the whole thing. New data has turned some of the old perceived ideas of history on its head, so new research is fascinating to read.-- (talk) 07:59, 12 June 2008 (UTC)
The absense of Celtic words from Old English is completely inexplicable if they had shared the same island with the Welsh since before the Roman conquest, just as the paganism of the early English is completely inexplicable had they been Roman citizens. It's my opinion that the first proto-English groups probably arrived in Britain in late Roman times as federates - Gildas's proud tyrant being a Roman ruler rather than a post-Roman one. He may even be Carausius, who is supposed to have collaborated with Frankish and Saxon pirates in the late 3rd century before being outlawed and setting up his own breakaway empire in Britain and northern Gaul. He is known to have brought Frankish troops with him, because a group of them were massacred in London by Asclepiodotus' men in 296, and may well have brought Saxons as well - which might explain why the Welsh called all the proto-English groups "Saxons".
There is a definite tendency to interpret new data as turning the old ideas on their head, and popular books will sell more if they can do that - but in history new data adds to old data rather than replaces it, and it's better science to see if the old interpretations can be modified to take account of the new data rather than thrown out altogether. --Nicknack009 (talk) 12:24, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

That is not how linguistics work, words do not become merged within languages by living side by side, they become merged by one language becoming dominant over another. For example, we know the Welsh speakers have lived side by side with common English since at least 1066..and no Celtic words moved across to English in that time. So if the Anglo-Saxons dominated the theoretical Celts of England..why oh why did those Celts not keep almost a single one of their own words? History has shown time and again that people hate learning new languages, and that if they do they keep a lot of their own. The only real solution to the many paradoxes and contradictions in traditional English history is the simple solution that there were English speakers in England since before the Romans. There is a book by MJ Harper which emphasises the point (slightly too strongly). The traditional model of history has been shown to be riddled with ambiguities and needs a rethink since the discoveries of DNA.-- (talk) 16:20, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
" in history new data adds to old data rather than replaces it, and it's better science to see if the old interpretations can be modified to take account of the new data rather than thrown out altogether" - Hmm rather questionable statements. New data in any study (history or otherwise) should be considered in relation to existing ideas and on a principle of science if it challenges an idea then the existing hypothesis shoudl be reviewed. That review can lead to a modification but may lead to a total rethink. Attatatta (talk) 04:20, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

When the Anglo-Saxons arrived, the people of what is now England were mainly speaking Latin. Please, those of you who believe that the English were in Britain from pre-Roman times, explain how they could have avoided conversion to Christianity despite living in the most Romanised part of the country. If the English were Roman citizens they would have been Christians. Only if they were foreign federates or arrived after the Romans left could they have remained pagan. And speaking of Harper's book, the reviews on Amazon are enough to convince me it's sensationalist rubbish. --Nicknack009 (talk) 17:08, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

I'm afraid the common English werent strong christians under the Romans. Christianity was only made the official religion in the Roman Empire in 391..just 13 years before their exit from Britain. Christianity was practiced by a tiny elite. The Anglo-Saxon elite arrived from Pagan Denmark and showed no desire to adopt christianity. Remember that older history only records the elites..not what the common majority were worshiping or speaking. Harper fires a lot of arrows some of which miss but many are bang on target. His classic one is pointing out that Beowulf is entirely set in Scandinavia, is written in an early form of Scandinavian which is incomprehensible to a university graduate, and yet..just a generation or two after the Anglo Saxon defeat..suddenly modern English pops up which a child can understand. Anglo Saxon certainly did not mutate into English in a generation, English had always been there, and Anglo Saxon was as foreign as latin and Norman French. Steven Oppenheimer, Dyen, Renfrew, Pryor and many others make the point more academically than Harper does. Traditionally academia would have us believe that in England a tiny elite imposed their language on the vast majority in a generation. History tells us that would be an exceptional event, its never happened anywhere else...ever. Look at Cornwall. Totally dominated by English and yet it still hung on to Cornish for a thousand years until the 1800s. Language is hugely resistant to change.-- (talk) 08:41, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm not getting involved in another argument about crackpot nationalist pseudo-history. --Nicknack009 (talk) 09:26, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Existing traditional history was itself based on nationalist pseudo-history. Most was put forward during the unification of Britain with the Scots, where a mythical all Celtic pre-Britain was popularised for unity purposes. There are many who are stuck in that rut, and for existing academia to admit to errors, would be like turkeys voting for Christmas. -- (talk) 11:22, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Oh no! The academic conspiracy theory! First and last resort of the crackpot. Everybody who knows what they're talking about disagress with me, therefore I'm right! --Nicknack009 (talk) 12:07, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Not a conspiracy. Its just human nature. The same is true of traditional members of the church who will not debate the impossibility of miracles. No one tells them to do that, it just comes by default. I am speaking generally. There are many enlightened historians who are not so backward and the number grows daily. By the way, is everyone who has a different opinion to you a crackpot?-- (talk) 13:52, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Not at all. But MJ Harper certainly is. --Nicknack009 (talk) 14:11, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Possibly, he has highly controversial views. And Steven Oppenheimer and Francis Pryor, are they crackpots also? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:36, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
No, and I never said they were. Neither, as far as I know, believe that Latin is an artificial language ultimately derived from English. This started as a perfectly civilised debate between people with different interpretations of the historical evidence - I may disagree with interpretations derived from Oppenheimer and Pryor, but I only started talking about crackpot nationalist pseudo-history after Harper was brought into the conversation. --Nicknack009 (talk) 17:37, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Nicknack, take a look at the following Web page of well respected Archaeologist Win Scutt who highlights many problems with the traditional All Celtic England which was originally propagated by Buchanan in 1538 during a time when it was believed all Eastern Celts had been genocidely wiped out. He also gives many examples of pointers to English existance in Pre-Roman England. (talk) 15:07, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

User:, your (inadequately cited) reference to Hans Kuhn does not show that the Belgae were "a non-Celtic speaking group of tribes overall". There are plenty of Celtic toponyms by your own testimony, and toponymy is not the only evidence for language. You also persist (I assume it's the same person under a variety of anonymous ISP numbers - in claiming that Caesar named the Nervii at Atuatuci as Germanic, which he didn't. Caesar said, as is cited and linked in the article, that the Eburones, Condrusi, Caerosi and Paemani were Germanic. And Oppenheimer writes on genetics, not language. --Nicknack009 (talk) 12:17, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Funny, even in this place there is a need to talk about that "Lithuanian" Baltic. Adam of Bremen in the 11th century clearly mentions the name Baltic is Slavic. In proto-Polish: balti "shine"; baltik "shiny one"; balto, bolto "shinedoer"; bloto "slush, mud"; baltno "shining"; baltno ezero "shining lake", lake Baltno (Balaton, as corrupted in Hungarian). Omitting that etymology or deriving the name Baltic from the Lithuanian meaning 'white' is common although that is anachronism. As late as mid Middle Ages present Lithuanian and Latvian cost was still inhabited by an original inhabitants of that land Chud' people (Finish-Estonian). Lithuanians have zero maritime tradition and to this very day sea fishes are consider by them to be "Polish". As to the name "Baltic people", known from the ancient times as Esti - it is an invention of Prussian academics for the similar political reason as the name Baltic is manipulated. Subsequently name Esti was appropriated by the Estonians originally called Chud'. ORO. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:25, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

It really isn't. Paul S (talk) 11:01, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Caesar, in opening words of De Bello Gallico,says:"Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur." All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third.

In de bello gallico Caesar describes belgae populations ,he says clearly:that they come from germany,furthermore,he lists these populations and he telling us which of these populations was germanic and which of these populations was Celts ,the majority were German.

Now archaeological evidences tell us Celts reached Britain, surpassing the English Channel, around 'VIII-VI century BC,and they began the colonization of GB.

Let me add I never believed in the traditional ""Big Bang"" theory (alias the super colonization of GB by anglo-saxon), we know that Germany was under populated,and we know that belgae living in northern Gaul in the IIIrd century BC (alias north east Brance- Belgium-South Central Holland),we know also they have begun a migration/colonization to GB around II-Ird century BC,in the de bello gallico, Caesar confirms it( you see Diviciacus (Suessiones)[1] ), but also other sources .Also Tacitus speak about the Belgae , he says that Belgae had a kinship with the south Britannia tribes.It s only a evidence that that there were already reports between "GB" and "North-Western Germanic coast".In my opininon these reports, these migrations,continued during ""roman occupation"" like it happens today when people choose to leave a poor country for a richer (ex:see also Germanization of the empire,see also continuous attempts invasion of Gallia and Britannia,see also allies or client states militia ,see also Auxiliaries (Roman military),see also[2],see also[3]),reaching the top during the ""billiards of peoples"" (alias great invasions).Officially they spoke latin in Britannia and in ""Belgium"" , but surely they have also continued to speak their original languages .have Celts merged with the Germanic populations??were Celts erased by the Germanic populations??have Celts been absorbed by the Germanic populations?? have the Celts moved into the remote areas of the island under the pression of Germanic people?we don t know it.But all these evidences could explain :"the discrepancy between, on the one hand, archaeological and historical ideas about the scale of the Anglo-Saxon immigration (Hills 2003), and on the other, estimates of the genetic contribution of the Germanic immigrants to the modern English gene pool (Weale et al. 2002; Capelli et al. 2003)."[4] ,without use eccentric theories like the "apartheid theory" or "Oppenheimer theory". --Moqq (talk) 09:59, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Oh, screw what Caesar says! The material culture of the Belgae was La Tene Celtic. All the personal and the place names in the territory of the Belgae were Celtic. But we should ignore all that because Caesar says they were German? Ridiculous. Paul S (talk) 18:06, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from 450 BC to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BCE)in eastern France,in eastern France,(not nort east france or belgium or south central holland where belgae was), Switzerland, Austria, southwest Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary[[5]]. .The material found is concentrated in these areas and becomes very less concentrated out of these areas,so isn t true that "All the personal and the place names in the territory of the Belgae were Celtic", what exxageration, please, we try to be more balanced,please u get a look at the maps[[6]][[7]].Never heard about ethnic minorities? If in Scotland there is a city where people speak icelandic , then we must supose that all scottish are icelandic? It s evident that belgian tribes was out of birth areas and greater expansion of ""Celtic culture"". I m saying that their culture was influenced by Celtic,but this does not make them Celts,it s highly probable that Celts was only a minor group of Belgian tribes. Other authors classify them as Germans,were all unable to see the difference?: Marcus Velleius Paterculus Tacitus Suetonius Florus Cassius Dio +Caesar. If these autors classify them as Germans, maybe something on their language or their religion or their lifestyle or their culture was more similar to Germans than the Celts/Gaul.Now we must disprove them because we found a Celt broken vase or a half Celt tomb or also a Celtic town in a sea of German not a broken vase :O that transform them into Celtic .Grotesque. Influence on their culture yes,Celts very probably not ,I leave to archaeologist ethnologist etc etc the task of solve this puzzle. It s only another possibility.Stop trolling. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Moqq (talkcontribs) 22:30, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

I repeat it, the language spoken in the Belgae territories was clearly Celtic according to the personal name, the tribe's names, the toponyms and the few inscriptions that were found. There are for sure traces of another language in the toponyms that is called Old European by some specialists, but absolutly NO EVIDENCE that a Germanic language was spoken and all the Germanic linguistic elements can be dated quite precisely as a result of the historical migrations of the German in the roman empire. That's said according to a strict linguistic point of view, that cannot be confused with archeology like Mr Oppenheimer does. Nortmannus (talk) 01:21, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Under a strict linguistic point of view, i can agree, but i repeat,Influence on their culture yes,Celts very probably not .It is like the Hungarian minority in Romania,they speak romanian? yes,are they influenced by romanian culture? yes, are they """"romanian""""? not.why the authors classify them as German? evidently there was something in them more Germn than is only a idea to explain the genetic contribution of the Germanic immigrants to the modern English gene pool.However this last argument is not linked with this discussion .--Moqq (talk) 09:27, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

We don't no much about a "Celtic" culture, that could not correspond to a generalized way of life, etc. The Romans or the Greeks did not have a clear idea of the peoples they met. Moreover, the meaning "Germanic" is not precise, they are contradictions about the tribes, etc. I don't think we can compare that with modern definitions and modern countries like Romania and Hungaria, that are modern states and not tribes and which are perfectly identified historically and culturally. The language is the only sure way to say it is Celtic or it is Germanic and the two groups of languages are perfectly defined and very different. Golasecca culture for exemple can be considered as "Celtic", because we discovered inscriptions written in a Celtic language with Etruscan alphabet, but they don't belong to la Tene culture and were still in the bronze age. The Belgae spoke a Celtic language and it is enough to say they were Celts. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nortmannus (talkcontribs) 12:31, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

bah ,after this (cur) (prev) 18:43, 2 April 2010 Paul S (talk | contribs) (13,867 bytes) (→Tribes of the Belgae: Caesar doesn't subdivide Belgic tribes into Gauls & Germans) (undo) we arrived at the negation of reality ,just an example de bello gallico liber (II,4),i leave the discussion,you write that you want --Moqq (talk) 15:59, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

Caesar says that the Paemani were called German; you're reading it as him saying everyone he's mentioned in the section is German and therefore whoever he hasn't just mentioned is Gaulish. That's not what it says. Paul S (talk) 21:17, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Caucasian or Assyrian?[edit]

This article is confusing me- was the tribe(s) Belgae Caucasian (either Gaul or German)? Because in the article it says they may've been a descendant of Trebata, who was Assyrian.

Trebata was the son of Ninus, an "Assyrian" king of about 2000BC. This very early period is the end of Sumerian history and we know that Assyria was a descendant state of Sumeria which was itself Indo European in origins and language. Hence Ninus and Trebata would have spoken a very early form of Indo European (later Assyrians spoke semitic) which might well explain the distinct languages of the Dutch/Frisians and English. A lot of colonisation by Sumerian/Phoenician/Hittite/Dorians occurred between 3000 to 500BC and much of it occurred on the coastlines of Western Europe, particularly Spain the British Isles, Brittany and the isles off holland and scandinavia. Many ancient tales of these peoples claim descent from Greek/Trojan/Assyrian kings. Essentially they were all part of the Sumerian dissemination of civilisation to Western Europe and Egypt.-- (talk) 13:24, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

"Trebata" is just a back formation from Treverorum created for a mediaeval monkish legend. It has nothing to do with any real person from Assyria or anywhere else. The Belgae weren't descended from Trebata any more than the Britons were descended from Brutus. To suggest otherwise would be Faces on Mars-style fringe science. Paul S (talk) 18:39, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

For the linguists "Treverorum" is Celtic : trevero- from trē-uer-o- from Old Celtic *trei 'through' (cf. Latin trans) + verb uer- 'to cross a stream, a river' (substantive uer / uar 'stream', 'river' like in many river names of France la Vire, le Var, la Vière). The Treueri were "ferrymen" to help to cross the Mosel river. The names of their gods show it : godess Ritona , ford's godess (Celtic rito- ford, compare Welsh rhyd) and Uorioni deo. Morever it corresponds to Old Irish treóir 'guiding', 'leading', 'place to cross a river'.Nortmannus (talk) 12:48, 3 April 2010 (UTC)

There is a wealth of evidence, archaealogical and written, that pre-Roman civilisation and probably language was partially brought to Britain and Western Europe by various tribes of the Eastern Mediteranian. For you to state categorically that Brutus never existed is just not credible. Scientists like Steven Oppenheimer and many others have conclusively proven that a good chunk of Western European DNA is directly from the Eastern Med. We can conclude that it would be civilised tribes of the Eastern Med, because for them to travel thousands of miles and dominate would require a degree of technological advance would it not. Evidence of Phoenician exploitation of Cornish Tin Mines is a fact. Thats the tip of the iceberg bearing in mind the loss of all written records BC -- (talk) 13:04, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

That "directly from the Eastern Med" DNA dates from much earlier than Assyrian or Sumerian civilisation. Further, it relates to dispersal of populations and does not support the Victorian schoolbook differentiation of the various "waves of invaders" as being "civilised" or "savage". Oppenheimer as a historian is himself a fringe theorist: he, unlike you, asserts the Belgae were all Germans despite all their names being Celtic. Paul S (talk) 20:40, 10 July 2009 (UTC)


Map of Gallia (58 BC), with Belgica in the north-northeast
This compass points indeed

Johanthon, you object to the Belgae being placed in "north-east Gaul" and invite us to look at a map. Well, to the left is a map of Gaul, with Belgica marked. That's fairly north-east by my reckoning. To the right, just to be unambiguous, are the points of the compass. --Nicknack009 20:04, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Iblardi, your objection makes no sense. North-western Gaul is Armorica. --Nicknack009 21:13, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Well, would you describe the Pas de Calais as being on the east coast of France? Iblardi 21:32, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
France doesn't have an east coast. It still has an east. --Nicknack009 22:06, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
Funny!!! Nicknack, your map does not correspond with Strabo, or Ptolemy. Just compare it with primary sources. The Sicambri in fact lived much more north. And what is hilarious are the Eburones: they are in fact Germans, living east of the western Menapii, who were Belgic. Just read Gaius Julius Caesar. You present a hoax and want us to believe this is true??? Than tell me why is it that your map does not show the Roman provinces Germania inferior and Germania superior east of Belgica prima and Belgica secunda??? And since when and by whom Brittany/Bretagne is north-western Gaul? Since today? By you? For the France believe this is western France and the eastern part of Bretagne is actual close to central France. How can you possibly defend that the Belgae were from north-eastern Gaul if you yourself say "France doesn't have an east coast", and your own map is showing the Morini correctly at the western coast? In fact around Boulogne were the Romans had a fleet station? johanthon 10:06, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry I forgat to say that your map is showing the Belgae in the north, and NOT in the north-east. Just put your compas in the centrum of Gaul, around the Haedui, Senones or at Orleans or Sens. I apologize and I'm really sorry I forgat to say that. It's just I'm so distracted by the humor of this. johanthon 10:14, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
This is frankly bizarre. I have read your comments over and over, and I still don't understand your objection. Belgica is right up at the top, and right over the the right, of the map of Gaul. That's north-east in anyone's language. Britanny (Armorica as was) is at the top left, which is north-west. Coasts are irrelevant - the state of Idaho is landlocked, but it's still in the north-west of the United States - and so is whether or not the Eburones were German, or whether the Romans had a fleet at Boulogne. The map doesn't show Germania inferior, Germania superior, Belgica Prima or Belgica secunda because it's a map of Gaul in Caesar's time before those provinces were established. --Nicknack009 21:45, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
Belgica was the northernmost province of Gaul at the time. It also happens to be in the north, and in the northeast though not the entire northeast (which continues further along the Rhine), but definitely not towards the northwest. Most precisely it is the north-northeast, but as such indications are less common, either north or northeast will do fine as well. And it was not proper of Johanthon to edit the map caption as 'Fake' or even to make it say 'north' instead of 'northeast': it was not his map caption, his comment. I now did a similar and under normal circumstances improper edit to the map caption, including the year that is shown with the map description. The original author of this map caption may feel free to put his original text back in instead. — SomeHuman 02 Jul2007 22:31 (UTC)
"Belgica is right up at the top, and right over the the right". Really? Is it? You haven't read my comment at all. Again: the Eburones (and also the Aduatuci and Treveri are Germanic. They are NOT Belgae as your map wrongly states. Your map is WRONG. There were NO Beglae at those places, but GERMANS. That is also why most of this area was given to the Roman province Germania Inferior. The REAL Belgica is "right at the top". And "right at the top" is at the North, not at the North-East. johanthon 23:25, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
SomeHuman, Belgica was NOT the Northernmost province of Roman Gaul. The Northernmost province of Roman Gaul is Germania Inferior. That province starts at the mouth of the Rhine and follows the river via Düsseldorff und Köln to around Koblenz were it is bordered by Germania Superior (wich is also NOT at this map). This Germania Inferior may cover the North-East of Gaul, but is not shown on the Hoax-map. If you take a look at the map again, you can see that this map Le Havre and a small part of Normandy (correctly) places in Belgica. Now Think. Do you really want to support someone that places parts of Normandy in the North-East of Gaul? And do you really want to stick to your comment that Le Havre in fact is in North-North-East Gaul? Good Luck! johanthon 23:25, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
First, don't cut stuff out of my comments. Both you and Johanthon have now edited my comments, which makes me severely doubt your good faith. I therefore do not intend to enter into any further discussion with either of you, assuming you are indeed different people, except to say that your momomaniac obsession with Roman provinces which hadn't yet been founded at the time in question has no place in this article. --Nicknack009 23:39, 2 July 2007 (UTC)
"your momomaniac obsession with Roman provinces which hadn't yet been founded at the time in question has no place in this article". So it is prohibeted to relate the people of the Belgae to the Roman provinces that have their name? Since when? By whom? The Belgae are an invention of Caesar. And the last time I checked Caesar was a Roman. There is no history of the Belgae before Caesar. Isn't that why the Roman view is all over the current article? And just because in Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico de people of the Belgae (not the Roman provinces) lived West of the Eastern Germanic tribes as the Eburones, Aduatuci and Treveri in Gaul, your map is wrong. I'm not "monomaniac" about Roman provinces, but about the people you wish to ignore. You do not even try to defend your position that Belgic towns like Le Havre and Rouen are in the North-East of Gaul. johanthon 11:53, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Are both of you, Nicknack and Johanthon, unable to read?
  • Nicknack, you dare to question my good faith and to suggest me being a sockpuppet of Johanthon. Are you nuts? I accused Johanthon of editing your map caption and openly stated I removed Johanthon's false "Fake"-accusation from your map caption and I added the name from the original map itself and the so important year of the map that you had shown undated, and which depicts Belgica Gallia correctly in Caesar's time, that is 148 years before Johanthon's province of Germania Inferior was created. And I explicitly stated you to have the full right to reinstate your original version, if you would prefer that.
  • Johanthon wrote, "SomeHuman, Belgica was NOT the Northernmost province of Roman Gaul", after I had written, "Belgica was the northernmost province of Gaul at the time" — that time was nearly a century-and-a-half before a part of that province became a separate province called Germania Inferior. The map is correct and all the people of the Belgica Gallia as depicted on that map were in Gaius Julius Caesar's time considered Belgae, perhaps apart from tribes that the Romans knew to have been arriving precisely around that time. Whether Belgae were Gaullish or Germanic is another, and still disputed matter: it was not one homogenous group. It appears that Caesar considered them Gauls only because they lived to the West of the Rhine and Caesar appears to have strategically used only rivers as boundaries as he did elsewhere, but Caesar also mentions that these Belgae spoke a Germanic language. Paradoxically, elsewhere Caesar mentions Germanic people living (Latin 'incolare': to live permanently, as agricultural or farming people) on that same west side of the Rhine, to have joined the Belgae. Whether they were an ethnic Germanic people that, before Caesar arrived, had crossed the Rhine and chased out indegenous tribes, or had mingled with them, or they were themselves ethnically Gaullish (Celtic in a more restricted sense because all the Europeans north of the Alps from near the Ural till the Atlantic have been called 'Celts' as well), who had borrowed the language (who knows: perhaps they might have been living East of the Rhine and were dominated by Germanic people, till they crossed the Rhine some time before Caesar arrived)... or a bunch of Gaullish, Germanic, and mixed tribes... all that remains mainly speculation (only of some tribes we have some useful information and it is not always very reliable). Why do modern people tend to think that political events and sociologial evolutions start when recorded history starts? Many peoples' languages today are borrowed from other ethnical peoples, in some cases by force and in other cases voluntarily. I see no reason why this would not have happened in prehistorical times: these peoples were our species with our intelligence and nature. And after adopting a language, placenames may remain in an earlier language of the area or may become renamed in the more recently introduced language, etymology cannot always give an answer either. Further strongly recommended reading on so-called 'Celts' and Belgae, e.g. Witt, Constanze Maria (May 1997). "Ethnic and Cultural Identity". Barbarians on the Greek Periphery? — Origins of Celtic Art. Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
By the way, Johanthon, your 'argument' of those eastern parts of Normandy not possibly being in the northeast of Gaul (where did you see Nicknack write about Normandy? he mentioned Belgica Gallia, which I did not place where you suggest: I said: in the north-northeast of Gaul), is utterly false logic: you take an extremity area to deny the location of the area as a whole. By that 'logic' you would have to deny that Gaul can be said to be located in Northwestern Europe because Massilia (Marseille) is in the South of Europe. One looks at the centrepoints of both areas to state in which direction one lies towards the other; that puts the area where the map places the Nervii about north-northeast of Avaricum.
As your highly demagogical trick of falsely claiming your words to come from Nicknack, only to then use your lies against him; so you did the same against me: I quote you, addressing me: "And do you really want to stick to your comment that Le Havre in fact is in North-North-East Gaul? Good Luck!". Only you mention Le Havre; that city is not mentioned before that very comment of yours. So how could I 'stick' to something that had not even be written at the time of my comment? You are an unworthy adversary, Johanthon, for anyone.
SomeHuman 16 Jul2007 20:38–22:14 (UTC)
Cheers. So you do realise that Le Havre, Rouen, Compeigne, Arras, Rijssel, Duinkerken, Boulogne, Doornik, Soissons, Valenciën, Lens, Robeke, Gent, Aardenburg, Asse, Beauvais and many other places in Belgica are not quite in the North-North-East? Than the matter is closed. johanthon 00:27, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
If you must pretend people to agree with you while they don't, the matter had not even been open. — SomeHuman 18 Jul2007 20:07 (UTC)

Comment Request[edit]

I've requested a comment on this page which seemed to degenerate into an edit war over the Summer. In the meantime, I've removed speculation on Germanicism, and since the section refers to Caesar, also removed later attributions of Tacitus and others, in Caesar's List. Paul S (talk) 17:11, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Suggested additional material[edit]

The study by C. Hawkes and G.C. Dunning The Belgae of Gaul and Britain 1945, marks the beginning of modern historiography of the Belgae and the "problem of the Belgae", which is nowhere stated as a problem in the article, simply as (preferred) conclusions. A Birchall, "The Belgic Problem: Aylesford Revisited" The British Museum Quarterly, 1964, discusses the Belgic characteristics of their major site in Britannia. Jane F. Gardner, "The 'Gallic Menace' in Caesar's propaganda" Greece and Rome 30.2 (October 1983) offers a critical view of Caesar's subtext, still missing from the article, which reports the Commentaries as if they were unbiased ethnography.--Wetman (talk) 16:33, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Oppenheimer/Forster fringe theory[edit]

An anon is trying persistently to insert Stephan Oppenheimer’s theory that a Germanic language was spoken in England long before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. But Oppenheimer is a physician and popular writer; so his book is not a Wikipedia:reliable source for the history of the Belgae. More generally see this series of Language Log posts: here, here, and here for linguists’ assessment of Oppenheimer’s theory.

Most recently the anon mentioned that Oppenheimer got his theory from geneticist Peter Forster but still cited the unacceptable Oppenheimer book. As a serious geneticist, Forster’s writings on genetics in a peer-reviewed journal might be acceptable. But this theory is not based on genetic research (which couldn’t tell us in any case what language was used). Instead it is based on a statistical analysis of vocabulary, which is outside Forster’s area of competence. See this Language List review of another of Forster’s linguistic theories.

Whomever you attribute it to, this is a Wikipedia:fringe theory that has not been accepted by historians and linguists. —teb728 t c 00:19, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Note that both these anons (if this isn't sock puppetry) have been warned and banned on previous occasions for vandalising Germanic-related material. Paul S (talk) 11:05, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
The theory put forward by Oppenheimer is based on a good review of linguistic information and whilst it is not a commonly held idea it does have some merit. The rejection of a book because it is commercial seems somewhat prejudiced as ultimately all books are published to make money. His analysis of the genetics is excellent - do you discount that equally. Whilst Oppenheimer is not, and admits he is not a linguist, Theo Vennemann is and also suggests this idea I understand. Despite the somewhat desperate resistance to this idea, the question is not, "were there German speakers in Britain before the formation of England" but how many. Even the Foederati idea places Germanic speakers in Britain in Roman times. Furthermore it would be preposterous to suggest that some people did not visit Britain from Germanic regions as part of sea trade. The problem at hand is in essence how large parts of Britain came to speak an essentially German language in such a short time. Invasion is an insufficient and largely unsupportable cause; neither this nor settlement would allow for the complete apparent transfer to a new language. The genetics rules out population replacement (which really was always a bit naive as an explanation) and the continuity in the archaeology suggests that violent persecution was unlikely. What is clear however, is that Eastern Britain had long standing links with the continent by sea and that cultural influence from there is a credible and demonstrable factor. If the cultural emphasis in post Roman Britain shifted to Germanic areas it is likely that this influence already existed in Roman and pre roman times. Even a sizeable element of Germanic influence and language would not have been commented on by the Romans as their interest was economic rather than social. It is likely that the same kind of elite exchange as is accepted between British and Belgic tribes, would have been in place to some extent. Overall there is a lot of hard evidence missing on both sides but the theory is worthy of mention at least if the subject is to be given fair treatment. Attatatta (talk) 04:05, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Interesting theory, I read a bit the critics, my English is too poor to understand everything. Oppenheimer or Forster mention the Breton word forn 'oven', they compare with spanish horno and Irish sorn ! What a mixture ! Breton forn is obviously borrowed from Old French forn Middle French fournier 'backer', Modern French four, from Latin furnus, that's why Spanish horno, because all the initial Latin /f/ were turned into H in Castillan (with some exceptions : fuego) and in Gascon (without exceptions huec). What's the connection with Irish sorn ? They all come from Latin furnus, logically because Roman people had a better technology in this way and they invented a new kind of ovens. The technological words travel with the technology. Concerning Irish sorn a corresponding evolution of an Old Celtic word, Imagine Gaulish *sorno-, Irish sorn OK, but later Brittonic : Welsh something like *horn and Breton *horn, that is regular : compare Old Irish socc 'snout' 'ploughshare', Welsh hwch, Breton houc'h 'male pig', French soc 'ploughshare' from Old Celtic *sukko 'swine', hypocoristical in -kko-, and indo-european pig's name *su (Lat. sus, German Sau, English sow).Nortmannus (talk) 21:23, 31 March 2010 (UTC)


source[8] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Moqq (talkcontribs) 14:10, 31 March 2010 (UTC)


"Inscriptions in Celtic language on instrumentum ..." reads a footnote. The useful jargon term instrumentum has no place in an article directed toward the moderately well-prepared general reader. Can we get a translation?--Wetman (talk) 17:20, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes, we can. Just ask it. Latin Instrumentum, archeology word, means all the things and objects in everyday life, that allow people to live at home or work in a studio : tableware, furniture, workers tools...and NOT walls, buildings, constructions or stones. The linguists make the difference between the inscriptions on instrumentum (generally quite ill written) and on stones (generally better written).Nortmannus (talk) 20:57, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Edit war[edit]

This edit warring is unacceptable. Please discuss your differences here on the talk page instead of reverting each other. I see no reason such a minor dispute can't be resolved by weighing opinions here.--Cúchullain t/c 19:00, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

I have provided 4 references for the commonly accepted etymology of the ethnic name, all of which have now been deleted by a user who cannot cite even a single source for the alleged alternate etymology (the reference currently tagged to it is incorrect).Cagwinn (talk) 19:17, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
There is no reason to remove your other references, they need to be added back. What does Pokorny actually say? Do you have a quote?--Cúchullain t/c 19:24, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
All of the refs I gave explicitly support the "swell" etymology - I will provide the quotes tomorrow. I am afraid to undo the last round of malicious edits by Paul S., lest I be blocked - perhaps someone else can reinstate my edits inthe meantiZme?Cagwinn (talk) 22:28, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
I was hoping Paul would do it, as I asked him to, because he's well over 3RR now. I've restored Cagwinn's references, but if there's any more edit warring the page will have to be protected and blocks may ensue. Cagwinn, please provide the quotes when you are able, and any further issues can be discussed here.--Cúchullain t/c 23:13, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Hey, I didn't remove anything except a ridiculous four citations for a single quoted source. Cagwinn is the one trying to censor any alternative suggestion for the origin of the name. The Pokorny ref was simply a citation for the existence of the PIE root in the IGW. What he thought is irrelevant. Paul S (talk) 23:42, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Precisely, Pokorny's dictionary does not claim that the proto-Celtic root *belo- underlies the name for the Belgae. What you need to do is find a reliable secondary source for that proposition. Now I see that an earlier version of this aricle notes that T. F. O'Rahilly was responsible for this suggestion. If so, it may be mentioned, but it should be clear to the reader what the current state of scholarly opinion is. Most modern commentators seem to favour the etymology from *bhelgh. Cavila (talk) 07:52, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with multiple citations (and everything wrong with revert warring). I would be interested to know what Pokorny actually says. If he's bringing it up but just rejects it, we could potentially use him as a source for the theory's existence, but we'd also have to note that he rejects it.--Cúchullain t/c 12:42, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
O'Rahilly seems to be the main source. Ironically, I doubt he was right. What I object to is all alternatives being swept away by Koch fandom. Paul S (talk) 12:47, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
O'Rahilly's bogus "lightning" etymology was obliterated years ago - no one accepts it any longer (have you even read a book or article on this subject in the past 50 years? Have you not seen John carey's ‘Fir Bolg: a native etymology revisited’, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 16 (Winter 1988) pp. 77-83?). If one wants to post outdated nonsense to Wikipedia articles, you might as well add that some people think the Lunar surface is made of green cheese to the Moon wiki. To suggest that I am some sort of Koch fanboy is absurd - you don't even know what you are talking about! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cagwinn (talkcontribs) 18:12, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
John Carey (close collaborator with Koch, but no doubt that's just coincidence) knows a lot about Irish mythology but he isn't a linguist primarily, so really I don't see that the publication automatically "pwns" O'Rahilly. Again, I don't say I support the "lightning" derivation, only that alternatives might be mentioned. Paul S (talk) 23:38, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Co-authoring one book together makes them "close collaborators"? What are they, spies? I repeat, you don't know what you are talking about, yet that apparently doesn't stop you from making ridiculous comments. Carey's article was written years before he worked with Koch on The Celtic Heroic Age and Carey, who teaches Middle Welsh by the way, has written several articles on Celtic linguistic matters over the years.Cagwinn (talk) 02:34, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Other theories can be included if they are supported by reliable sources, but as Cavila says we need to be clear what the opinion of current scholarship is.--Cúchullain t/c 12:56, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
The current version looks good to me.--Cúchullain t/c 13:04, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Pokorny, Celtica, Vol. 5, p. 231, "(a)s I shall show elsewhere, all the Irish words containing bolg can be derived from the I.-E. root bhelg'- "to swell" (IEW 125f.)....(t)he name Belgae contains the same root (OHG belgan 'to swell, to be angry'), but with a different vowel-gradation...".
Pokorny, IEW, 125ff., *bhelg'h-, `schwellen; Balg (aufgeblasene Tierhaut), Kissen, Polster'; Derivatives: gall. Belgae `die Zornigen'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cagwinn (talkcontribs) 18:04, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

I don't see what this has to do with Koch fandom, which would be beside the point anyway. One of the references is an encyclopedic entry by Koch and Busse which in this case merely summarises a long-standing etymological explanation. Cavila (talk) 14:18, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

It does no harm to err on the side of caution. The way I've worded the section points out that recent commentators favour the "swollen" etymology while not branding all other alternatives as heretical. There are, after all, no Belgae around to correct us. Paul S (talk) 23:21, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

"all the old Belgian toponymy is clearly Celtic"[edit]

I tagged the above wording for a citation. As a quick bit of context, I'll paste here from some other Wikipedia articles, both with reasonable sourcing:

  • According to Luc van Durme, a Belgian linguist, toponymic evidence to a former Celtic presence in the Low Countries is near to utterly absent.<ref>Oude taaltoestanden in en om de Nederlanden. Een reconstructie met de inzichten van M. Gysseling als leidraad. In: Handelingen van de Koninklijke commissie voor Toponymie en Dialectologie. LXXV/2003</ref> From Nordwestblock.
  • studies of placenames such as those of [[Maurits Gysseling]], have been argued to show evidence of the very early presence of early Germanic languages throughout the area north of the Ardennes. The sound changes described by "[[Grimm's Law]]" appear to have affected names with older forms, apparently already in the 2nd century BCE. It is argued furthermore that the older language of the area, though apparently [[Indoeuropean]] was not Celtic (see [[Nordwestblock]]) and therefore that Celtic, though influential amongst the elite, might never have been the language of the area where the Eburones lived.<ref>{{Citation|last1=Lamarcq|last2=Rogge|first1=Danny|first2=Marc|title=De Taalgrens: Van de oude tot de nieuwe Belgen|publisher=Davidsfonds |year=1996}} page 44.</ref> From Eburones.

I think this sentence needs to be expanded into a discussion of competing viewpoints, with proper sourcing.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:49, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

I've come back and done a fairly extensive re-working of the whole section. Apart from the above issue, one of the biggest issues was the way in which the Belgic Germani (cisrhenani) were being simply treated as Germanic speakers in some sections, which is really something there is high confidence about. So I have tried to break up and explain all the different ideas people in the relevant fields have on the subject. In the end I've used a useful tripartition of the Belgae into 3 groups which Edith Wightman uses: Germani cisrhenani (NE); their other northern Belgae neighbours who might be related (NW); and then a core of northern French Belgic tribes who appear to have been firmly Celtic (S).--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 12:58, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Regarding Celtic or Germanic, it is often necessary to tread very carefully around this article as contemporary Belgian Flemish versus Wallonian issues can cause Nationalist historiography to become an issue - and now we have the crank theories of Oppenheimer beloved of certain English nationalists threatening to creep in as well... Paul S (talk) 19:16, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree. I've tried to avoid giving any impression of too much certainty about any of the various mainstream theories around. I think Oppenheimer's most unusual theories thankfully have no place here as it is not about Britain anyway. Let me know if you see anything needing better citations.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 19:26, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Bel + gae[edit]

I've reverted the sentence that tries to analyse "Belgae" as "bel", shining, plus "gae", spear, despite another editor putting a citation needed tag on it, because linguistically it simply can't work. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of linguistics, or a smattering of Latin, should be able to see that. "Belgae" is a Latin plural noun, and the "-ae" is simply the standard ending of nominative plural nouns in the first declension. If it's in the accusative (direct object) case it's "Belgas", and if it's genitive it's "Belgarum" - change the case and "gae" disappears, and can't be a component of the word. The "g" then obviously belongs to the stem, i.e. the first syllable. --Nicknack009 (talk) 12:26, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

Not to mention the fact that the Continental Celtic word for "spear" was *gaiso- (Gallo-Latin gaesum, Gallo-Greek gaisos, "javelin", ethnic name Gaesati, personal names Gaisatorix, Gaesius, Uologesus (=*Uolo-gaisus)); internal -s- only disappeared in Insular Celtic (with few exceptions) and gae is a Medieval Irish form, after final syllables were lost. Cagwinn (talk) 13:56, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

There is a scientific consensus[edit]

About the Celtic speaking nature of the Belgae. (Koch, John T. 2006. Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia. P.196, Bell; Andrew Villen. 2000. The role of migration in the history of the Eurasian steppe. P.112; Swan, Toril, Endre Mørck, Olaf Jansen Westvik. 1994. Language change and language structure: older Germanic languages in a Comparative Perspective. P.294; Aldhouse-Green, Miranda Jane. 1995. The Celtic world. P.607).

On the other hand there's none for the claim that Germanic language was spoken by the Belgae, even though there are individuals who advocate that point of view. This distinction between a scientific consensus and minority/fringe opinion needs to clear (and not mixed up by claiming that it's a "Gallo Germanic tribe". That amounts to invention. —Loginnigol (talk) 21:39, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

There are sources which claim both things (Celtic or Germanic), and many who would take a position somewhere in the middle. We may not take a side. Koch is a good source, but in terms of this debate he is a figure head of one relatively extreme (but respectable) position, which is not the only position.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 10:17, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
No. Wrong. The mainstream (and not "extreme", as it is based on very solid evidence) view is most certainly that the Belgae were Celtic speakers, at least when they enter the historical record. Cagwinn (talk) 22:17, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
I am sorry but you are wrong. Perhaps my choice of the word extreme was bad, because I mean no criticism of Koch. However it is not true that the opinion you mention is a scientific consensus. Debate goes on. I believe you'll find that Koch's writings make it clear that he knows not everyone agrees with him. Here is a relatively recent source which disagrees for example: Lamarcq, Danny; Rogge, Marc (1996), De Taalgrens: Van de oude tot de nieuwe Belgen, Davidsfonds. One possible misunderstanding: probably there is a certain level of consensus about Celtic being the language in the part of modern northern France which Caesar called "Belgium". However the term Belgae is also clearly used (in our article and in sources) in a broader sense to refer to all people between them and the Rhine. Caesar referred to one big block of these people as Germani, and he mentioned that a lot of Belgae have Germanic ancestry, by which we can at least be sure that he meant that they had ancestry from east of the Rhine. This does not mean they spoke a Germanic language, but what language they did speak is not something I believe there is consensus about. Some say Celtic, some say Germanic, and the third proposal is that there was a sort of in between language.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:15, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
Oh, brother! No, I am not wrong. Lamarcq and Rogge are hardly well known scholars in the field (I am very well read on the subject and have not heard of either of them!). Danny Lamarcq is "historian and cultural attaché at the city of Zottegem"...not even a linguist! Is that all you've got? Who else do you have to support your position that there is not a scholarly consensus about the Belgae being Celtic speakers? Cagwinn (talk)
It was just a book I could cut and paste quickly. You are still perhaps misunderstanding me. The question is whether there is a clear consensus, and as I said, you just have to read the papers by the Celticists themselves to see that they know not everyone agrees with them. Indeed, last time I looked at this there seemed to be some acceptance that the broad Belgic area (going all the way to the Rhine) was probably not homogeneous linguistically. Specifically there is a large part of this area where the people are referred to by Caesar as "Germani", such as the Eburones. Do you say that there is a consensus that these were Celtic? I think that what you might misunderstand is that I agree with you about the consensus concerning the Belgic area narrowly defined (which is today in modern France). But this distinction between broad and narrow definitions of the Belgic area is not something we can simply assume that our readers know. --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 08:35, 2 April 2014 (UTC)