Insular Celtic languages

language family

Insular Celtic languages are the six Celtic languages that originated in the British Isles.[1] All surviving Celtic languages are from the Insular Celtic group; the Continental Celtic languages (the other group) are now extinct. The six Insular Celtic languages of modern times can be divided into 2 groups:

  • The Goidelic languages: Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic[2] They are also called "Q-Celtic" because of the use of a Q sound (spelled with a C or a K).[2]
  • The Brittonic languages: Breton, Cornish, and Welsh[2] (another language, Cumbric, is extinct). Brittonic Celtic is also called "P-Celtic" because of the use of the letter P.[2]

By the 4th century BC most people in the British Isles spoke a Celtic language.[3] When the Irish abbot and missionary Columba met the Pictish king Bruide they needed a translator.[3] Columba spoke Q-Celtic while the Picts spoke P-Celtic.[3]


  1. "The Celtic Language - the basics and what it sounds like". 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "What are the Celtic Languages?". Celtic Languages Resources. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Celtic languages". Education Scotland. Archived from the original on 1 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.