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Thread: Definition of Celtic / Celticity

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    Veteran Member Anthropologique's Avatar
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    Default Definition of Celtic / Celticity

    The technical definition of Celtic / Celticity that is broadly accepted by academics and other experts is:

    "[A] proven affiliation with the Celtic languages or (for non-linguistic evidence) a demonstrable close connection with them". This definition is provided by Barry Cunliffe, perhaps the world's most respected Celtic archaeologist and Celtic culture expert (Cunliffe and Koch, 2010).

    Raimund Karl (2010), a prominent Celticist, agrees with the following definition of who is a Celt:



    "[A] Celt is someone who either speaks a Celtic language or produces or uses Celtic art or material culture or has been referred to as one in historical records or has identified himself or been identified by others as such &c.".

    Personally, I fully accept the first definition and the second only partially. I would not count self-identification. To this I would add: a significantly long Celtic history (say, at minimum, 500 years), evidenced by language, material culture and some form of association with Celtic "folkways" - Celtic spirituality, consciousness, and the like.

    Population groups that have retained a Celtic language and / or material culture (practiced in some regular and meaningful manner) and various Celtic "folkways" combined with a long history of Celticity can certainly be classified as Celtic.

    In my opinion, these population groups today can be found only in the Atlantic Facade.
    Last edited by Anthropologique; 04-15-2012 at 09:15 PM.

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    Further to the above post, in a very interesting paper, Dagmar Wodtko, a major expert on the Lusitanian language, discusses how the Celtic language spoken in Gallaecia, Galaic, was very closely connected to Lusitanian. Lusitanian is classified as Para-Celtic. The Lusitani culture was very much Celtic dominant.

    See: The Problem of Lusitanian In: Celtic from the West... (2010).

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    I'd generally define modern British islanders, French, Iberians, and some Central Europeans (Northern Italians, Swiss, Belgians etc.) as being, to some extent, Celtic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clementina View Post
    I'd generally define modern British islanders, French, Iberians, and some Central Europeans (Northern Italians, Swiss, Belgians etc.) as being, to some extent, Celtic.
    Agreed, I think that is an accurate estimation, except for many French, who I think have quite a distinct heritage from nearby Celts such as the people of Brittany. I really view Celts as an ethnic group rather than as national groups or countries, though arguably places like Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Britain have either majority or are in large part Celtic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clementina View Post
    I'd generally define modern British islanders, French, Iberians, and some Central Europeans (Northern Italians, Swiss, Belgians etc.) as being, to some extent, Celtic.
    Don't know about the Belgians (Northern / NW Euros). The Belgae were Celtic but I don't believe there are any true surviving Celtic traditions in Belgium. The Swiss and Alpine Italians have a Celtic heritage but I'm not certain how long Celticity actually survived in Alpine Italy and Switzerland.

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    The opinions cited in the OP seem generally accurate to me, that's how I would define Celtic, anyway.
    *Both the scholarly accepted opinion and the Celticist's definition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbariansteel View Post
    The opinions cited in the OP seem generally accurate to me, that's how I would define Celtic, anyway.
    *Both the scholarly accepted opinion and the Celticist's definition.
    I think nearly all points in the two definitions for what signifies a Celt and Celticity are universally accepted in learned circles. That's what reasonable people should go by.

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    Could it be like "Latino"? Could it describe varied ethnicities who share Celtic culture and language and/or descend from people who did? I descend from Gaelic Irish, Highland Scottish, and Welsh people, so I'm partly Celtic based on the second definition. I have yet to find any Cornish blood, though.

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    The ancient Celts, were a linguocultural group, they couldn't be racially homogenous as the had assimilated pre-IE population of each of their regions. I think that all the Celtic speaking+latinised people with Celtic ancestry can claim Celtic heiritage

    BTW It's Kelts, not Celts

    Quote Originally Posted by Sikeliot View Post
    I'd generally define modern British islanders, French, Iberians, and some Central Europeans (Northern Italians, Swiss, Belgians etc.) as being, to some extent, Celtic.
    I agree with this, maybe except of Enlglish or even German-speaking Swiss

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