In the modern world, it’s easy to take the progress of language for granted. Written and spoken communication have been evolving for thousands of years, and by now we’ve reached a point where most major languages are fairly similar. Even so, there are some striking differences between modern languages and those from earlier eras. Because Welch isn’t a commonly spoken language in many parts of the world, many people may be unaware that it is an official language in Wales (alongside English). In fact, it is the primary spoken language for most people living in Wales, with around 20% of the population reporting that they can speak it fluently. However, this wasn’t always the case - as you will discover here, there has been a long and convoluted journey from the Stone Age to today.
Welch is part of a broader group of languages referred to as Celtic languages. As the name suggests, these languages were first spoken in Europe but were also spoken in parts of Asia, the Americas, and Australasia. Because Celtic languages developed very early on, they have no relation to Indo-European languages, which are most commonly spoken today, including Spanish, French, German, and Russian. As such, they are completely different to English, which is a Germanic language that is closely related to Dutch, Swedish, and Norwegian. In fact, it is difficult for us to even imagine what life was like during the Stone Age. So much has changed since then, with everything from technology to food, culture, and even housing evolving over the centuries. Language is, of course, no exception.
The Bronze Age is names from its use of bronze, which was a metal made from copper and tin. Bronze was the first metal that humans discovered how to make, and was widely used for tools, weapons, and jewelry. It is also during the Bronze Age that the first writing systems appear in the archaeological record, with the earliest samples originating in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). Since writing systems tend to closely reflect the language(s) spoken at the time, this hints that a new language may also have been developing around this time. However, since these writing systems were based on the earliest Indo-European languages, the languages of the European Bronze Age are likely to be the closest equivalents to Welch.
However, while modern Celtic languages are fairly similar to one another, they are likely to have been very different in the past. Over time, these languages will have diverged due to factors like geography and culture, eventually leading to the large differences between modern Celtic languages.
The Dark Ages are commonly used to refer to the period after the fall of the Roman Empire. As such, the date given here is a bit arbitrary, but the Dark Ages are generally considered to start around the 8th century. During this time, many cultural and political changes occurred, with Latin ceasing to be the primary language in many of the regions that had previously been part of the Roman Empire. This led to the development of many new languages, many of which are modern-day Romance languages, including French, Italian, Spanish, and even Romanian. Unfortunately, there is very little written evidence from the Dark Ages, and so it is difficult to be completely certain about the languages being spoken at the time. However, there are a few clues that suggest that Celtic languages may still have been spoken in the British Isles, including the fact that many place names in Wales appear to be of Celtic origin.
The Middle Ages were a period of great cultural and societal change, with many different factors influencing the way people lived, and thus spoke, at the time. However, it is worth noting that the Celtic languages spoken in the British Isles were likely to have been very different to modern-day Celtic languages. For example, the Welch language that is spoken today is much closer to English than it is to Irish or Scottish Gaelic. This is because Welch was separated from the other Celtic languages when the English Channel formed around 10,000 years ago. This meant that Welch was spoken in a largely insular region, with little contact with other languages, whereas the other Celtic languages were spoken in areas that were heavily influenced by the Roman Empire.
The Renaissance was a period of great cultural and scientific change that occurred in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries. Much like the Middle Ages, the Renaissance was a period of intense linguistic change, with many languages developing and changing during this time. Unfortunately, there is very little written evidence from the Renaissance era, and so it is difficult to know exactly what languages were being spoken at the time. However, we can make some educated guesses based on what written evidence does exist, as well as changes that have occurred in the languages since. In particular, it appears that the Celtic languages spoken in the British Isles were likely to have been similar to modern Welch.
The Victorian Era was a period of intense linguistic change, with many languages seeing significant developments in this era. One of the most notable linguistic developments of this period is the emergence of many new languages from what had previously been a single language: Indo-European. Indo-European languages are spoken by nearly half of the world’s population but are very difficult to study. This is because, unlike many other languages, they are not written down and instead have to be reconstructed using the limited archaeological evidence available. This makes it very difficult to accurately reconstruct these languages, which have been in existence for thousands of years. Luckily, the Victorian Era was a time of great linguistic change, with many of the Indo-European languages branching out into new languages. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know exactly what languages were being spoken at the time. However, it appears that the Celtic languages spoken in the British Isles may have been similar to modern Welch.
As you have hopefully discovered from reading this article, the evolution of languages has been a gradual process with many distinct periods. While some changes are more obvious than others, the difference between modern languages and those spoken thousands of years ago is still remarkable. Though the use of language varies greatly across the globe, it is truly fascinating to learn about how they have changed and developed over time, and how they are likely to evolve in the future.