Regional languages declining in India; extinct language revived in Europe

The extent and influence of imperialism on regional language and culture is nothing new. The Romans were guilty of it wherever they made a province. Nowadays, however, modernism and nationalism are the new enslaving masters of regionalism. I read an article published today concerning the many languages of India; the contents both pleased and disappointed me. On the one hand, there is a great effort to preserve and record regional languages, but on the other, those languages are declining, because of either migration to cities for better pay or policies of centralization that neglect to provide for schooling in a regional manner. From 1,652 languages about 50 years ago, the number has dwindled to less than 800 in the present time. That is to say, half of the number of languages were lost within the short period of two generations! And what’s worse, about a quarter of the surviving ones are endangered.

Far to the west of Europe, an extinct language, once spoken in many dialects over much of the continent’s west and center, is now being revived, after about 1,500 years of entombment. But fortunately, several of its cousins still survive, namely, Welsh, Irish, Bretonic, Welsh, and Gaelic, contributing to the ability to achieve a more accurate reconstruction. This Celtic language has been given the name of Gaulish; it was once the native tongue of the Celts inhabiting Gaul (modern France). A similar language was also shared by Celtic tribes in western Spain and Portugal, as well as in throughout the region of the Alps. Two scholars in particular have accomplished considerable progress in their earnest and noble work, enabling them to write some simple verse and prose, strengthened by a speculative knowledge of the phonology. I was extremely pleased to hear the language spoken for the first time yesterday, both its ancient and modern form. The ancient has a smack of Latin in its sounds, confirming the very ancient relation of Italic and Celtic languages. But the modern bears more affinity to its living relations. Some years ago, Cornish, a Celtic language spoken in South west England, was revived with some success, and today, we should all rejoice that Gaulish shows some promising signs of being able to join in the noble company of its Celtic cousins.

6 thoughts on “Regional languages declining in India; extinct language revived in Europe

  1. heathenembers

    Language is probably the most important thing to preserve in any culture. Language is thought, and the values and lives of a group of people are inseparably bound up in the words they use. How many concepts and thoughts have been lost with their languages over time? All those things that just don’t translate directly to another tongue could be gone forever. Great to see more effort is being made to preserve what we have left.

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  2. Melas the Hellene Post author

    Thanks for the comment, friend. Some languages are irrecoverable, but as knowledge in archaeology and linguistics increase, scholars will make more advancements in deciphering and reconstructing at least the ancient languages that are essential for ethnic polytheism and identity. Surprising news came several years ago that a complete dictionary of the Mesopotamian languages was published in several volumes, after several decades of hard research. Sometimes I don’t regret living in this century!

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  3. Paul

    Warm greetings, Melas. I’m happy to have found your website and I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. I’m glad I’m not the only fellow to have come out of the desert (so to speak) and revert to the beauty of traditional polytheism rather than nonsense like Wicca or any other such laughable and artificial religion.

    This post is very interesting. Myself and both of my grandfathers being descendants of Gauls, I think it’s fascinating that there is at least a small effort to resurrect/reconstruct Gaulish – the only Gaulish linguistic material that I was familiar with was bits and pieces of grammar, names of people and Gods, and a few handfuls of inscriptions of sentences and words (as well as the words here and there that have survived into modern French). How exciting to actually hear it spoken! People of course wouldn’t abandon French en masse, but what a thrill it would be if Gaulish could be reawakened. Of course, the absolute ideal would be an archaeological team excavating and discovering hordes of bilingual Gaulish/Latin or Gaulish/Greek scrolls or inscriptions!

    Also, a bit off topic to the current post but thank you for your explanation of how philosophy was, in fact, not part of traditional Hellenic religion. I was pretty deeply Christian (Catholic) until perhaps five years or so ago, and remember reading some religious fiction once and laughing when one of the characters said something like, “But you don’t need to abandon Greek philosophy! It has been leading up to Christianity all this time!” – I wondered how polytheists (or what I assumed at the time were polytheists) could have possibly had ideas that would mesh with monotheism. The fifth part of ‘Essential distinctions in polytheism’ was a fantastic post that finally made the passage from that book make sense to me.

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    1. Melas the Hellene Post author

      Let me greet you in your language, my Gaulish friend: Slantia! I join with you heartily in praising traditional and ethnic polytheism as beautiful, and I will add that it is among the most important cures that our sickly world desperately needs.

      May the forgotten Gauls and their language rise strong again! It seems that the research and spirit are very fruitful nowadays; it was an additional joy for me to see an anthology already published with pieces of writing, prose and verse. If you are interested, look into the Cnus’Vláthu Galáthach: A Modern Gaulish Anthology, which can be purchased. Let us hope discoveries and interest continue, as well as efforts to preserve the already declining regional languages and dialects.

      Many thanks for your kind compliments. My fifth part on essential distinctions in polytheism was the one that required the most research, but I am glad to hear it has cleared up a mysterious matter to you, as it did to me. My next task is to convince my fellow ethnic and Hellenic polytheists that philosophy and their religion are not compatible, which is a very difficult one! May the Gods aid me, and keep you, my friend.

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  4. Paul

    Slantia και χαίρετε! May the Gods of both Gaul and Hellas stir their peoples to remember, and may the day come when our temples are rebuilt and the ancient rites are celebrated once again.

    Thank you for the book recommendation! I had not come across that title before, but I will be purchasing it (as well as another volume which showed up when I searched for it called, “Anthologia Gallica”). Would that Gaulish had survived to the present, or at least had been as well-recorded as Ancient Greek or Latin.

    I wish you luck and success in your endeavor to inform your brethren of the fallacies of philosophy! I have no doubt that it will be a challenging task. May all of the Gods and Ancestors pour out blessings on you and your website, my Hellenic friend. It’s a relief and joy to find a place where the traditional is treasured, celebrated, and reawakened rather than having to sift through invented and New Age nonsense.

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