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Spoken in Spain
Language extinction 2nd century AD?
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 cel
ISO 639-3 xce
     Celtiberian in the context of the Paleohispanic languages

Celtiberian (also known as northeastern Hispano-Celtic) is an extinct Indo-European language of the Celtic branch spoken by the Celtiberians in an area of the Iberian Peninsula lying between the headwaters of the Duero, Tajo, Júcar and Turia rivers and the Ebro river. This language is directly attested in nearly two hundred inscriptions dated in the 2nd century BC and the 1st century BC, mainly in Celtiberian script, a direct adaptation of the northeastern Iberian script, but also in Latin alphabet. The longest extant Celtiberian inscriptions are those on three Botorrita plaques, bronze plaques from Botorrita near Saragossa, dating to the early 1st century BC, labelled Botorrita I, III and IV (Botorrita II is in the Latin language).



Enough has been preserved to show that the Celtiberian language could be called Q-Celtic (as Goidelic), and not P-Celtic as Gaulish (Mallory 1989, p. 106). For some, this has served to confirm at least some of the legends preserved in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, which state that the first antecedents of the Irish people arrived from Iberia.

Since Brythonic is P-Celtic too, but as an Insular Celtic language more closely related to Goidelic than to Gaulish,[1] it follows that the P/Q division is paraphyletic: the change from kw to p occurred in Brythonic and Gaulish at a time when they were already separate languages, rather than constituting a division that marked a separate branch in the "family tree" of the Celtic languages. A change from PIE kw (q) to p also occurred in some Italic languages and Ancient Greek dialects: compare Oscan pis, pid ("who, what?") with Latin quis, quid; or Gaulish epos ("horse") and Attic Greek hippos (ἵππος) with Latin equus and Mycenaean Greek i-qo. Celtiberian and Gaulish are usually grouped together as the Continental Celtic languages, but this grouping too is paraphyletic: no evidence suggests the two shared any common innovation separately from Insular Celtic.

Celtiberian exhibits a fully inflected relative pronoun ios (as does, e.g., Ancient Greek), not preserved in other Celtic dialects, and the particles kue "and" (cf. Latin que, Attic Greek te (τε)), nekue "nor" (cf. Latin neque and Attic Greek mēte (μήτε) < (μή) "not" + te "and" < IE *kwe), ve "or" (cf. Latin enclitic -ve and Attic Greek ē () < Proto-Greek *ē-we). Like in Welsh, there is an s-subjunctive, gabiseti "he shall take" (Old Irish gabid), robiseti, auseti. Compare Umbrian ferest "he/she/it shall make" or Ancient Greek deiksēi (δείξῃ, aorist subj.) / deiksei (δείξει, future ind.) "(that) he/she/it shall show".

Example texts

A.1. tirikantam : berkunetakam : tokoitoskue : sarnikio (:) kue : sua : kombalkez : nelitom
A.2. nekue [: to : u]ertaunei : litom : nekue : taunei : litom : nekue : masnai : tizaunei : litom : soz : auku
A.3. aresta[lo] : tamai : uta : oskues : stena : uerzoniti : silabur : sleitom : konskilitom : kabizeti
A.4. kantom [:] sankilistara : otanaum : tokoitei : eni : uta : oskuez : boustomue : koruinomue
A.5. makasiamue : ailamue : ambitiseti : kamanom : usabituz : ozas : sues : sailo : kusta : bizetuz : iom
A.6. asekati : [a]mbitinkounei : stena : es : uertai : entara : tiris : matus : tinbituz : neito : tirikantam
A.7. eni : oisatuz : iomui : listas : titas : zizonti : somui : iom : arznas : bionti : iom : kustaikos
A.8. arznas : kuati : ias : ozias : uertatosue : temeiue : robiseti : saum : tekametinas : tatuz : somei
A.9. enitouzei : iste : ankios : iste : esankios : uze : areitena : sarnikiei : akainakubos
A.10. nebintor : tokoitei : ios : uramtiomue : auzeti : aratimue : tekametam : tatuz : iom : tokoitoskue
A.11. sarnikiokue : aiuizas : kombalkores : aleites : iste : ires : ruzimuz : abulu : ubokum
(Transcription Jordán 2004)
  • Great inscription from Peñalba de Villastar (Teruel).
(Transcription: Meid 1994)


  1. ^ McCone, Kim (1996). Towards a Relative Chronology of Ancient and Medieval Celtic Sound Change. Maynooth: Dept. of Old and Middle Irish, St. Patrick's College. ISBN 0-901519-40-5.  


  • Jordán Cólera, C. (2004). Celtibérico. Zaragoza.
  • Hoz, Javier de. (1996). The Botorrita first text. Its epigraphical background; in: Die größeren altkeltischen Sprachdenkmäler. Akten des Kolloquiums Innsbruck 29. April - 3. Mai 1993, ed. W. Meid and P. Anreiter, 124–145, Innsbruck.
  • Mallory, J. P. (1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05052-X
  • Meid, Wolfgang. (1994). Celtiberian Inscriptions, Archaeolingua, edd. S. Bökönyi and W. Meid, Series Minor, 5, 12–13. Budapest.
  • Untermann, Jürgen. (1997): Monumenta Linguarum Hispanicarum. IV Die tartessischen, keltiberischen und lusitanischen Inschriften, Wiesbaden.
  • Velaza, Javier (1999): «Balance actual de la onomástica personal celtibérica», Pueblos, lenguas y escrituras en la Hispania Prerromana, pp. 663-683.
  • Villar, Francisco (1995): Estudios de celtibérico y de toponimia prerromana, Salamanca.
  • Celtiberian*.Carlos Jordán University of Zaragoza, Spain..[1]

See also

External links


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