4.11. Pre-Pritenic

Pritenic is the name given to the language of the Picts, which is described as part of a P-Celtic continuum, either a dialect or (maybe more likely) a language diverging from the attested Brittonic. Features of Pritenic include:

·       Preservation of -st-.

·       Absence of final i-affection.

·       Preservation of Common Celtic *ā, where Brittonic shows ǭ (c. 6th century).

·       Absence of spirantisation in clusters *-rd-, *-rc- and *-rt-. Maybe *-ks- Cel. *xs → Pri. -ss-/-k-.

·       Absence of nasal assimilation, along with the irregular development of -t- in *caito-.

·       Different evolution of *oi, *ou.

·       Preservation of * where Brittonic evolves to gu̯.

·       Preservation of *mb (Britt. mm) and *nd (Britt. nn).

·       (Dubious) preservation of initial *sV- (which became *hV- in Brittonic) and possibly *sn-.

·       (Dubious) suffix *-os Pri. -ei; it disappears in Brittonic.

·       Merge of *kw and *k in Pri. *kon- < *kwon-.

Beyond this settled question of its Celtic nature lie the unsolved etymologies of certain place names in the northernmost part of Great Britain, arguably one of the most likely to host some proof of the North-West Indo-European dialect spoken before the expansion of Celtic into the British Isles with La Tène culture.

The following are potential non-Celtic words, taken from the multiple lectures of Guto Rhys, see e.g. Rhys (2015):

·       Non-Celtic: Éboudai, Íla, Kelniou (<*kai-lo-? ‘bright’), Tína, Toúaisis, Taum, Nabárou (in Ptolemy, probably from *nebh-, and suffix -ar), Bodería. Spey (proposed from **skiat-, without hiatus-filling ð proper of neo-Brittonic, either), and Spean may be the strongest data in favour of a non-Celtic nature of Pre-Pritenic, depending on the interpretation of the names’ origin.

·       Likely Celtic: Lossio Veda (previous Lóksa in Ptolemy, with -xs- as -ss-, where NWIE *-ks- Gk. *xs-), *abor (o-grade of aber), Dekántai (with preservation of -nt-), Banatía (in -a- as in Goidelic), Calgacus (<*kol/k- + suffix *āk-, cf. Goidelic colg-, Britt. col(y)-);

·       Likely Brittonic: epogenos (in Rome, from *ekw- and *geno-), Argentocoxos (with -e-, with -nt, with -xs-), Ar(t)cois (from art-, bear, and *koxs-, and in final -s-).