What Was the Worst Cultural Genocide Ever?

How about the Romanization of the Celtic World?


Yes, all of that land was formerly controlled by the Celts. Even Southwest Poland was Celtic. There is an endangered language spoken there called Silesian that has at its very base a Celtic layer which is the oldest layer of this Slavic language. The French language was Celtic Gaulish, the influence of which can still be seen in the odd French phonology. I do not think there is much Celtic left in the Iberian languages, but I could be wrong on that. Surely there is little or no Celtic left in Turkish. One wonders about Celtic traces in Dutch, German and the rest of Slavic.

In our modern era, Celtic languages only (barely) survive in Ireland (Irish), Scotland (Scottish Gaelic), Wales (Welsh), the Isle of Man (Manx) and Cornwall (Cornish) in England, and Brittany (Breton) in France. In Eastern Europe, Celts were supplanted by Germanic, Iranian and Slavic tribes. In France, Iberia and the Balkans, the Celts were assimilated to the Roman Empire.

It is not particularly difficult to convert a native elite to the language of a conqueror, but converting an entire population to a new language in a short period of time is quite a feat. The Romans did this mostly by showing the superiority of the Latin language and convincing the natives to give up their Celtic words.

In fact, the Romanization of Dacia where the original Celtic speaking people were completely converted to Latin which then turned into Romanian is cited by Wikipedia as one of the worst cultural genocides ever.

Of course there are many other examples of cultural genocide, some of them ongoing.


Filed under Antiquity, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Britain, Celtic, Culture, Dutch, Europe, European, France, French, Geography, German, Germanic, History, Indo-European, Ireland, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Language Families, Linguistics, Maps, Poland, Regional, Roman Empire, Romance, Scotland, Slavic, Sociolinguistics, Turkic, Turkish

38 responses to “What Was the Worst Cultural Genocide Ever?

  1. Jm8

    I don’t think Dacian was Celtic. It may have been (somewhat) related to other Balkan languages like Thracian and Illyrian (in a Thraco-Dacian branch of Indo-European), but none are very well attested in the Historical/archaeological record). Linguists debate whether Albanian comes directly from Illyrian or another Balkan language (Dacian is the usual other candidate).

    • Dave Mowers

      The Dacians are referenced as Getae having come from Turkey.

      You can rewrite history all you want but as, “science,” you cannot just ignore actual written testimony from ancient authors. Dacians were conquered under the Macedonians so their language would have been altered by each instance whereby they were conquered. Dacians were invaded earlier than that by Scythia, Samatia, later by Arabs, probably even affected by the Kurgan split and move.

  2. halfCeltic

    Sad that the Celts are literally the red-headed stepchild among the more dominant European groups. I think they’ve mostly been absorbed into the other groups now and are viewed as the more low brow European group (think of Irish stereotypes). Though I’d argue that the Scottish have more than their fair share of geniuses.

    • Dave Mowers

      You should read Paul Pezron’s work; “The Antiquities of Nations…”

      Aside from being, at his time, the world’s foremost expert on the Celtic languages he was also an etymologist, historian, linguistic and philologist and considered without peer save Max Mueller.

      He says the language we today claim is P.I.E. Proto-Indo-European was in fact Celtic root language and the evidence is everywhere from China to Russia to Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Africa in the original place names still used even today. He cites references, includes a Celtic dictionary, is cited numerously by his peers of that age and translates from the original Latin and Greek in Old English.

      He cites the Bible which reinforces the entire ancient Greek narrative saying essentially that the Celtae came from Central Asia in the Southern Russian zone and split into two original groups; one that went east becoming the Aryans and one that went West to turkey later crossing over into Europe. Incidentally even the name, “Europe,” which had no known meaning but was said by Roman authors to have been known for as long as there had been men living there can be translated into Celtic/PIE and oddly enough, Sumerian. It means, “Nomads,” (The Land of….) the literal translation is, “Foot-men.”

      Which is also in fact an exact description of European Celts lifestyles as described by ancient authors.

      • Jm8

        Celtic is Indo-European, but a westerly branch. It originates somewhere between East/Central France and Austria (and spread out), not the (Eastern i.e. probably N. Caucasus) PIE homeland. The branch of IE in China is probably Tocharian (an very early PIE offshoot which is like Celtic in some ways, and more like eastern branches in others). The Bible does not mention Celts (as far as I know).

        • Jm8

          Paul Pezron’s work (from the 1600) is mostly pretty outdated (in terms of ethno- linguistics). There is no connection between the Celts and the biblical Gomer. The connection was made by newly converted celts to associate with the (new to them) prestige of the Biblical world/hebrews (Some other cultures did the same in the Middle ages, also since the Bible was taken as an absolute authority on early history.)

        • Dave Mowers

          It has simply changed over time. It is not a new language as all languages are built on earlier versions. That is a scientific fact.

          All these names you use to distinguish between types are artificial attempts to place geographic or age-specific/(Time period) classifications that have NO FOUNDATION in any science. It is merely scholars or researchers trying to delineate time without evidence.

          Leviticus is Celtic/Druidic religion. Caesar himself mentions Jesus before he was born as being the God of the Druids.

          P.I.E. is an attempt to imagine what a foundational language could have been that split into later groups. It wholly discounts the ability of separate tribes to develop entirely on their own AND there are historical accounts of all of this written by Roman and Greek authors.

        • Dave Mowers

          Gomer is mentioned in Greek history by Greeks before the Bible was written and the references are cited in full in Pezron’s work.

          Just because Einstein is from the past doesn’t mean we discount his work as being outdated does it?

        • EPGAH

          Actually, Stephen Hawking’s major claim to fame is claiming Einstein was wrong. Now, though, Stephen is admitting HE was wrong, EINSTEIN was right…after having made his fortune.

          Was he just trolling us for fun&profit?

          But yes, old theories can be proven wrong. And some of the new theories coming out are absolutely bonkers. Like the idea that African savages were in England before it was civilized…Or that Moors brought civilization to Europe…Or the various theories of where the name “Europe” came from!

      • Jm8

        Languages branch into successor languages and can be classified into families (Transitional forms of course exist, it is not a neat or discrete process.), like anything else that evolves. Celtic is a later evolving branch of IE. It is not equivalent to PIE, as you have asserted. You seem to trust biblically based, pre-scientific works over the whole of modern historical linguistics.

        Leviticus is not Celtic and has nothing to do with Celts. The Israelites were not even Indo-European, nor did Druids Worship Jesus “before he was born”. This is nowhere is Caesar.

        “Gomer is mentioned in Greek history by Greeks before the Bible was written, and the references are cited in full in Pezron’s work.”

        Can you provide primary source citations for any of this? I would be extremely surprised. Greek written history does not in fact go back to before the Bible was written. It postdates most of the Old Testament. Mainland Greeks had little to no contact with Judea/Judeans before the Hellenistic period.

        None of these claims make any sense nor are supported by modern scholarship whatsoever. There is no evidence for it at all. Einstein’s work utilized the rules of science. This is essentially post medieval (some is medieval) Christian mythology.

        • Jm8

          Einsteins work has been evaluated by science/ replicated, and (so far) upheld (or not falsified).

        • Jm8

          It should be noted that Pezron’s book is based on the assumption (common in the west at the time) of biblical chronology (that the Earth is about 6,000 years old) and follows the old claim that the peoples N. west of the Near East (Europeans) are descendants of Noah’s son Yapheth.

  3. I’ve heard arguments about the origin of Valentine’s day between those who favor the Christian origin stories and the pagan (Greek and Roman) festivals. Do you have any information about this dispute? I’ve been looking around, but it’s hard to find the sources of either side.

    • Dave Mowers

      I recently read the history of Chaldea by Frances Lenormant and it could be that the Easter event and Valentines are tied by the Sumerian tale of the Descent of Ishtar.

      I am not aware of the current work being done on it but in their story they meet, fall deeply in love and Tammuz(her lover) is taken from her threatening the balance of power between Heaven and Earth as, “Ishtar,” is the goddess of love and fertility, as Eve, Hava, Aeva, Hea, Anna, Venus etc. Easter celebrates her journey to the underworld and re-emergence as fertility of the Spring once satisfied that Tammuz will be returned to her. As the Sun-god hero Tammuz re-appears and their union fertilizers the Earth but all the women would, “…weep for Tammuz,” on the day of the Summer Solstice as his, “journey,” back to the underworld, his death/dying began again as a penance. This Sumerian(if you want to call it that) story is the foundational epic that later becomes Hercules and Jesus and signifies the single greatest invention in mankind’s history(TIME.)

      The story was how the ancients marked the days, months, seasons and year to account for time so-as to grow the food necessary to feed people in large groups. The story had to be simple enough for everyone to remember and understand it and it had to come with VISUAL CUES that repeat each year.

  4. Jason Y

    OK, NOW I know why my Irish co-teacher in South Korea was such a douche. Why he was so oversenstive about his culture, and the fact people didn’t want to hear his accent. lol

  5. Jason Y

    However, it is possible, and this is speaking to white nationalists, to hold on to your culture without becoming a hate filled monster.

    You have your culture and I have mine. Simple as that. Live and let live, but it doesn’t seem to be that way with a lot of them, and this is in reference to that lovely gentlemen whom I spoke in another thread who died, and of which I’m glad he died.

  6. This is what celtic people probably looked like when they first had contact with the Romans.


  7. Tom Sullivan

    Galician is a Celtic language spoken by over 2 million people in the North West of the Iberian peninsula.

    • Dave Mowers

      The most ancient written account of the Iberians comes from Roman authors translating Greek history and says they came with the first Celtic wave of invasion across southern Europe. Both the Romans AND Greeks admit that what they call the Celts, “..barbarians..” really is incorrect as Romans and Greek ARE descendants of these peoples and they knew it and they wrote of it.

      They have found numerous pieces of evidence of Phoenicians in Spain AND there are actual mythological stories as well as histories of the discovery of the mines at Rio Tinto by Saturn called by the Romans, “Pluto,” for his, “Great wealth derived from the underworld in the West.”

  8. Tom Sullivan

    Read “Celtic influenced” for “Celtic” in my last comment.

    • No one’s gonna comment about the black kid with the cross? Alright then.

    • Jm8

      Many Romance languages/dialects north of the Italian Alps(and west of the Balkans) have Celtic influence (Gaulo-Romance aka French, Ibero-Romance, Romansh, maybe certain N. Italian dialects, ). The pre-Roman substrata in Aquitaine/Gascony may be more strongly old Basque/Aquitanian than Celtic (Gascony was still Basque speaking When the Romans came, not yet Celticized like the rest of Gaul.), and in Some parts of Spain more Iberian(maybe related to old Basque). Portugal was inhabited by close (linguistic) cousins of the Celts, The Lusitanians.

      It would be interesting to investigate Celtic influences in S. German dialects. The S. half of Gernany (and the East) was not Germanic speaking until the early middle Ages (as the map shows).

  9. SHI

    50 years from now, the worst cultural genocide would be the English language supplanting other major languages of the world in their home territories — some say, it’ll be Chinese but that’s unlikely.

  10. Matt

    Don’t forget Breton, in the French province of Brittany.

  11. Jason Y

    Red haired people are nearing extinction. Is it racist for them to preserve thier heritage?

  12. Jason Y

    I was thinking the Beatles (at least halfway) and the Bee Gees (isle of Man) were really Celtic not Anglo-Saxon. You can tell cause anglo-Saxons have big noses like Germans.

    • Jm8

      Three Beatles were half about Irish (all but Ringo Starr)

    • Jm8

      Germans (and central and some N Europeans in general) are more known for having shorter more upturned noses(generally speaking and relative to Southern, esp. E.Med. types). But I’m sure it depends on the region. The English are genetic mix of Anglo-Saxons and the earlier Celtic speaking peoples; more mixed in S.E. England, more pre-saxon(Saxonized culturally over time) toward the west

  13. Jm8

    Gaulish (one of the most widespread Celtic languages pre-Romanization) is relatively well attested in inscriptions. There is not much narrative material like mythology unfortunately, but enough to learn to speak at a basic level, or somewhat brokenly(many votive inscriptions from temples/shrines). It is surprising more French people/people of French descent don’t take an interest in it(The French are mostly of pre-Roman invasion ancestry), maybe because many people don’t know there is a significant amount of the language preserved(many people seem not to from what I’ve seen in online comments). There are a few Youtube videos with basic Gaulish, and a Swiss folk metal band called Eluvetie that sings in the language (Switzerland was in the Gaulish speaking range.)

  14. Jason Y

    The language of the Celts died out, but they reproduce quite well as shown by the Irish. They were the Mexicans of the 1800s and incredibly hated by white nationalist types of the day. There were even scientific studies done to try to prove they looked more like apes.

    • Jm8

      Irish (and a few other Celtic languages, see post) is not dead. The Mexican analogy is a pretty good one. the Irish were at (or near) the bottom of the labor hierarchy for a while, and nationalists were paranoid about them swamping the country Many stereotypes were similar(to Mexican ones). Many stereotypes also similar to those applied to Blacks(esp. in the North) .

  15. Messi Arnaz

    The Germanization of Europe or the Sinicization of China are the worst. And unlike the mythical Celts, nobody misses the pre-Han Chinese.

  16. Les Romains n’avaient ni radio, ni télévision. Et ils ont repoussé le breton aux limites ouest de l’Europe en peu de temps.
    Aujourd’hui, l’anglais porté par les pays phare de la finance, est en train de détruire ce qui reste de langues régionales. Il aura fallu moins de 100 ans pour que l’Etat français détruise par exemple l’occitan en France.
    Il restera les paysages s’ils ne sont pas cachés par les hideuses publicités commerciales.


  17. Enna

    Genocide? Please. The process is called assimilation. The Celts weren’t all just wiped out; they were incorporated into other groups of people. This happened to countless other peoples: Etruscans, Phonecians, Thracians…

    Genocide is the deliberate, systematic eradication of an ethnicity. No one wanted to eradicate the Celts, but a lot of people wanted to conquer them, and did — and so they became assimilated into other populations.

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