CHAPTER II
LANGUAGE

I
LANGUAGE AS THE MARK OF A SOCIETY

T HE Celts were not a race, but a group of peoples, or, to speak more accurately, a group of societies. Language is one of the clearest and truest characteristics of societies. Among the cultural facts which are bounded by the boundaries of a community, it is one of the most typical or the most apparent. There are exceptions to this rule. France is, perhaps, the best example of the rule and of the exceptions. In that country there are spoken, in addition to French, dialects of the Langue d'oc, Basque, Breton, Flemish, German, and Italian. Except the Langue d'oc dialects, which are fairly widespread, these tongues are spoken by comparatively small groups on the fringes of the nation. For all these groups, French is the language of civilization. The French-speaking countries beyond her frontiers have the closest social and moral relations with France. Such is France and such are the French-speaking countries. National states which speak two or three languages, like Belgium and Switzerland, are really societies divided by language, whose moral and political unity is maintained by veritable social contracts. The great states (which, in any case, were short-lived), such as those of Asia, in which many languages were spoken, were never anything but empires, and never had any unity but that of the sovereign. On the whole, to speak roughly, the language coincides with the society.

We may, therefore, say that the Celts are the group of the peoples which spoke or still speak dialects of a certain family, which are called the Celtic languages. Wherever the Celts have lived they have left place-names, inscriptions with personal names, and in history the memory of other names, which can be recognized as different from all others and, in general, are the same everywhere. The faintest traces of Celtic speech are certain evidence of the presence of the Celts

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