It is known that they were once the same language, Proto Italo-Celtic, however with the descendants of Latin and the remaining Celtic languages, which Romance Language retains the most influence from the Celtic languages they displaced? Obviously, none of them retain enough words to allow any amount of mutual intelligibility, yet the amount of a language remaining after over a thousand year reign and suppression is interesting.

A similar case would be how French and English are somewhat intelligible when reading, despite a thousand year gap and hundreds of years of rule/ influence, despite how we still retain a decent amount of Germanic vocabulary.

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    Whether there was a Proto-Italo-Celtic language or not is under debate, the evidence is not really convincing. Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 16:48
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    If you talk about "reign and suppression", then you're talking about the Celtic substrate and how much of it was preserved; but at the same time, you base your question on the supposed common origin of the Italic and the Celtic branches. Which is which? One thing would be the influence of Celtic languages, and another the remaining features of Proto-Italo-Celtic (if it existed).
    – LjL
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 18:47
  • English has many French words due to the Norman invasion of England. There are very few words which are unchanged in both Italic and Germanic languages to the point they are easily recognisable as cognates. Most similar words have been borrowed due to close contact between the languages. The only example I can think of off the top of my head is "me".
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 2:28

2 Answers 2


When a modern Romance language shows some influence of a Celtic language it replaced it is a consequence of language contact and not of common inheritance. It is generally hold that the Rhaeto-Romance languages (Romansch, Ladin, and Friulian) show the largest Celtic substrate influence.


Just to supplement jknappen's excellent answer, we don't see a lot of inherited vocabulary shared between Italic and Celtic, simply due to the timescales involved. When there are cognates between the two, they usually come all the way from PIE, or were loaned at a later point.

The main evidence for Proto-Italo-Celtic comes from certain grammatical features common to Proto-Italic and Proto-Celtic, but not found in other Indo-European languages.

For example, PIE didn't really have tense distinctions, so when its daughter languages created a past tense, they did so in different ways. Both Italic and Celtic—and no others that I'm aware of—took two particular unrelated forms (the PIE perfect and aorist) and gave them the same meaning. So some verbs form their past tense with reduplication of the first consonant (the PIE perfect), while others use a suffix -s- or -t-, or a lengthened vowel (the PIE aorist). There are also some innovations common to the two families, such as a vowel -ā- marking the subjunctive (compare Latin ferat and Old Irish bera, "he/she would carry", versus Ancient Greek phérēi).

The question remains whether there was actually ever a "Proto-Italo-Celtic" language, or whether these features spread through language contact, or are sheer coincidence. To my knowledge, the jury's still out on that: there's much less evidence for this than for, say, Proto-Germanic, which is uncontroversial.

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