Celt - celt - Celtic
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There are two pronunciations of this set of words, and there is some variation of use.
- Its commonest use is in Archaeology, History and Linguistics to name a people, or group of peoples, in Europe, most famously around the time of the Roman Empire – the Celts. (The biggest group of Celts in Western Europe were the Gauls.) Celtic is also used to describe a family of languages descended from the languages of those people. The Celtic languages that are still in use in Western Europe nowadays are Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Erse or Irish Gaelic, and Breton. Extinct Celtic languages include Cornish, Manx and British.
- In academic circles, pronounce the word with a hard ‘c’, like a ‘k’ – IPA: /ˈkelt ɪk/. An older generation used the soft ‘c’, like an ‘s’ – IPA: /ˈselt ɪk/. This pronunciation, which was recommended in the BBC Pronunciation Guide of 1928, may still be heard among older speakers in academic circles. It is, of course, the usual pronunciation among non-academic people, especially when used as the name of a football team.
- There is also a noun, a celt (always with a soft ‘c’, like an ‘s’). This is only found in archaeology-related contexts. It means a type of axe-head, dating back to the Bronze Age. Most people are unlikely ever to use the word.