The idea of mutual intelligibility is interesting, yet due to how the Urnfield culture that spoke proto Celtic just north of the Italian peninsula (and inside modern Bologna, Venice, and Milan) how intelligible could these languages have been? Some interesting cognates being,-

Léigh - leggere (to read)

Can - cantare (to sing)

Creid - credere (to believe)

Corp - corpo (body)

(A More Expanded list of Cognates, https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/8156398/Interesting-similarities-between-Irish-and-Italian-words)

  • 3
    What time period are you talking about? At one point they were entirely mutually intelligible (because they were the same language and hadn't split yet), and at another point they weren't.
    – Draconis
    Nov 12, 2018 at 17:00
  • 1
    @Draconis, when they were the same language they were PIE, not Proto-Italic and Proto-Celtic, which are defined by specific innovations from PIE.
    – TKR
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:10
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    There's also the question of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italo-Celtic
    – jlawler
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:16
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    @TKR As jlawler mentioned, I'm going off the hypothesis that Italo-Celtic split off from PIE before Italic and Celtic split up.
    – Draconis
    Nov 12, 2018 at 19:33
  • @Draconis, sure, but in that case Proto-Italo-Celtic would later have split into Proto-Italic and Proto-Celtic. Presumably the OP is asking about those languages as conventionally defined, i.e. by innovations from their common ancestor.
    – TKR
    Nov 12, 2018 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


The languages were probably very close and most likely mutually intelligible at least to some degree, which is why we postulate the Italo-Celtic branch of IE languages. Of course neither of these language states are attested but what we reconstruct shows many similarities. Compare the declensions as listed by Wiki:



  • n. agr-o-s X makkʷ-o-s
  • g. agr-o-sjo/agr-i X makkʷ-i
  • d. agr-ō-i X makkʷ-ū-i
  • ac.agr-o-m X makkʷ-o-m
  • v. agr-e X makkʷ-e
  • l. agr-o-i/agr-e-i X makkʷ-e-i
  • ab.agr-ō-d X makkʷ-ū

  • n. agr-ō-s/agr-o-i X makkʷ-o-i

  • g. agr-o-m X makkʷ-o-m
  • d. agr-o-is X makkʷ-o-bos
  • ac.agr-o-ns X makkʷ-ū-s
  • v. agr-ō-s/agr-o-i X makkʷ-o-i
  • l. agr-o-is X makkʷ-o-bis
  • ab.agr-o-is X makkʷ-o-bis

To me, there are fewer differences in endings than between dialects of my own mother language (Czech). You can find corresponding similarities on the side of verbal conjugations.

In terms of the vocabulary, again even if you compare the reconstructed proto-celtic words with Classic Latin, you will find many striking similarities, so the proto-italic must have been even closer:

  • kanō X canō - sing
  • ɸatīr X patēr - father
  • berō X ferō - carry
  • rīgs X rēgs - king
  • dānom X dōnum - gift
  • kaikos X caecus - blind
  • bous X bos - cow
  • gnātos X (g)nōtus - known

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