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Created by Andrew Smith
Date 1996
Setting and usage A thought experiment in alternate history, Ill Bethisad, if Latin had replaced Celtic
Sources constructed languages
 a posteriori languages
(Romance language based on Celtic)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bzt
Linguist list
Glottolog None

Brithenig is an invented language, or constructed language ("conlang"). It was created as a hobby in 1996 by Andrew Smith from New Zealand, who also invented the alternate history of Ill Bethisad to "explain" it.

Brithenig was not developed to be used in the real world, like Esperanto or Interlingua, nor to provide detail to a work of fiction, like Klingon from the Star Trek scenarios. Rather, Brithenig started as a thought experiment to create a Romance language that might have evolved if Latin had displaced the native Celtic language as the spoken language of the people in Great Britain.

The result is a sister language to French, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian and Italian, albeit a test-tube child, which differs from them by having sound-changes similar to those that affected the Welsh language, and words that are borrowed from Brythonic and from English throughout its pseudo-history. One important distinction between Brithenig and Welsh is that while Welsh is P-Celtic, Latin was a Q-Italic language (as opposed to P-Italic, like Oscan), and this trait was passed onto Brithenig.

Similar efforts to extrapolate Romance languages are Breathanach (influenced by the other branch of Celtic), Judajca (influenced by Hebrew), Þrjótrunn (a non Ill Bethisad language influenced by Icelandic), Wenedyk (influenced by Polish), and Xliponian (which experienced a Grimm's Law-like sound shift). It has also inspired Wessisc, a hypothetical Germanic language influenced by contact with Old Celtic.

Brithenig was granted the code BZT as part of ISO 639-3.

Andrew Smith was one of the conlangers featured in the exhibit "Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond: The World of Constructed Languages" displayed at the Cleveland Public Library from May through August 2008.[1] Smith's creation of Brithenig was cited as the reason for his inclusion in the exhibit (which also included the Babel Text[2] in Smith's language).


Most of Brithenig's vocabulary is distinctively Romance, even though it is disguised as Welsh. The following list of 30 words gives an impression of what Brithenig looks like in comparison to nine other Romance languages including Wenedyk, and to Welsh. The similarity of about one-quarter of the Welsh words to Brithenig words (indicated by not being bracketed) is due to their common Indo-European background, although a few others, such as ysgol, were borrowings from Latin into Welsh.

Brithenig compared with Romance and Welsh
English Brithenig Latin Portuguese Spanish Catalan French Italian Rhaeto-​Romance Friulian Romanian Wenedyk Welsh
arm breich brachium braço brazo braç bras braccio bratsch braç braţ brocz braich
black nîr nĭger, nĭgrum negro negro negre noir nero nair neri negru niegry (du)
city, town ciwdad cīvĭtās, cīvĭtātem cidade ciudad ciutat cité città citad citât oraş, cetate czytać (dinas)
death morth mŏrs, mŏrtem morte muerte mort mort morte mort muart moarte mroć (marwolaeth)
dog can canis cão perro gos, ca chien cane chaun cjan câine kań (ci)
ear origl auris, aurĭcŭla orelha oreja orella oreille orecchio ureglia orele ureche urzykła (clust)
egg ew ovum ovo huevo ou œuf uovo ov ûf ou ów wy
eye ogl ŏcŭlus olho ojo ull œil occhio egl voli ochi okieł (llygad)
father padr pater, patrem pai padre pare père padre bab pari tată poterz (tad)
fire ffog ignis, fŏcus fogo fuego foc feu fuoco fieu fûc foc fok (tân)
fish pisc pĭscis peixe pez, pescado peix poisson pesce pesch pes peşte pieszcz pysgodyn
foot pedd pĕs, pĕdem pie peu pied piede pe pît picior piedź (troed)
friend efig amīcus amigo amigo amic ami amico ami amì amic omik (cyfaill)
green gwirdd vĭrĭdis verde verde verd vert verde verd vert verde wierdzi gwyrdd
horse cafall ĕquus, cabăllus cavalo caballo cavall cheval cavallo chaval cjaval cal kawał ceffyl
I eo ĕgo eu yo jo je io jau jo eu jo (mi)
island ysl īnsŭla ilha isla illa île isola insla isule insulă izła (ynys)
language, tongue llinghedig, llingw lĭngua língua lengua llengua langue lingua linguatg, lieunga lenghe limbă lęgwa (iaith)
life gwid vīta vida vida vida vie vita vita vite viaţă wita (bywyd)
milk llaeth lac, lactis leite leche llet lait latte latg lat lapte łoc llaeth
name nôn nōmen nome nombre nom nom nome num non nume numię (enw)
night noeth nŏx, nŏctem noite noche nit nuit notte notg gnot noapte noc (nos)
old gwegl vĕtus, vĕtŭlus velho viejo vell vieux vecchio vegl vieli vechi wiekły (hen)
school yscol schŏla escola escuela escola école scuola scola scuele şcoală szkoła ysgol
sky cel caelum céu cielo cel ciel cielo tschiel cîl cer czał (awyr)
star ystuil stēlla estrela estrella estel étoile stella staila stele stea ścioła (seren)
tooth dent dēns, dĕntem dente diente dent dent dente dent dint dinte dzięć dant
voice gwg vōx, vōcem voz voz veu voix voce vusch vôs voce wucz (llais)
water ag aqua água agua aigua eau acqua aua aghe apă jekwa (dŵr)
wind gwent vĕntus vento viento vent vent vento vent vint vânt więt gwynt


The Lord's Prayer:

Nustr Padr, ke sia i llo gel:
sia senghid tew nôn:
gwein tew rheon:
sia ffaeth tew wolont,
syrs lla der sig i llo gel.
Dun nustr pan diwrnal a nu h-eidd;
e pharddun llo nustr phechad a nu,
si nu pharddunan llo nustr phechadur.
E ngheidd rhen di nu in ill temp di drial,
mai llifr nu di'll mal.
Per ill rheon, ill cofaeth e lla leir es ill tew,
per segl e segl. Amen.


  1. ^ Esperanto, Elvish, and Beyond (photo group at Flickr: . Accessed 9/7/2009
  2. ^, accessed 9/7/2009

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