Wiktionary:About Proto-Celtic

link={{{imglink}}} This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial, and it is unknown whether it is widely accepted by Wiktionary editors.

This page contains guidelines for Proto-Celtic reconstructions—notation, templates, and formatting. Proto-Celtic reconstructions are created in the Reconstruction namespace, as subpages, e.g. Reconstruction:Proto-Celtic/makʷos for the reconstruction *makʷos.


There is very little agreement between authors on the notation used to represent Proto-Celtic. Here at Wiktionary we use the following symbols; please use only these symbols in reconstructions, adapting the source notation as necessary.


Short vowels a e i o u
Long vowels ā ē ī ū
Diphthongs au  āu  ai  āi  ou  oi

Note: Proto-Celtic ē comes from Proto-Indo-European ey and is sometimes spelled ei in Celtiberian, leading some to suppose the monophthongization of ey to ē had not happened yet in Late Proto-Celtic. However, most researchers believe that Celtiberian ei was only an orthographic diphthong and represented a spoken monophthong.


Labial consonants b ɸ m
Dental/alveolar consonants t d s  z  n  l  r
Palatal consonant y
Velar consonants k g x
Labiovelar consonants kʷ  gʷ  w

Note 1: Proto-Celtic ɸ is often spelled f in other resources, but we use ɸ here. This sound disappeared in almost all positions before Late Proto-Celtic, but it did remain in a few places: sɸ- developed differently from s-, and -ɸl- and -ɸr- after a vowel were voiced to -br- and -bl- in Old Irish ·ebla and ebarthi. For this reason, we use it in reconstructions in all places where it is etymologically expected.

Note 2: The sounds z and x were not phonemes of Proto-Celtic but allophones of s and k respectively. Nevertheless, we use them in reconstructions in the positions where they occur.

Note 3: The clusters rs and ls had already assimilated to rr and ll before Late Proto-Celtic, so we use the assimilated spellings here. For the clusters sr, sl, sn, sm, and ly, it is less clear that assimilation was complete before the end of Proto-Celtic, so we use the unassimilated spellings.



Nouns, adjectives, and pronouns are cited in their full nominative singular (masculine) forms (e.g. *makʷos, not *makʷo-, *windos, not *windo- or *windo/ā- or the like).


The lemma form for verbs is the third-person singular present indicative, as it is for both Proto-Indo-European verbs and Old Irish verbs.