The Brythonic or Brittonic languages (Welsh: ieithoedd Brythonaidd/Prydeinig, Cornish: yethow brythonek/predennek, Breton: yezhoù predenek) form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family; the other is Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael. The name Brittonic derives ultimately from the name Prettanike, recorded by Greek authors for the British Isles. Some authors reserve the term Brittonic for the modified later Brythonic languages after about AD 600.
The Brythonic languages derive from the British language, spoken throughout Britain south of the Firth of Forth during the Iron Age and Roman period. North of the Forth, the Pictish language is considered to be related; it is possible it was a Brythonic language, but it may have been a sister language. In the 4th and 5th centuries emigrating Britons also took Brythonic speech to the continent, most significantly in Brittany. During the next few centuries the language began to split into several dialects, eventually evolving into Welsh, Cornish, Breton, and Cumbric. Welsh and Breton continue to be spoken as native languages, while a revival in Cornish has led to an increase in speakers of that language. Cumbric is extinct, having been replaced by Goidelic and English speech. The Isle of Man may also have had a Brythonic language that was replaced with a Goidelic one. By emigration there are also communities of Brythonic language speakers in England, France, and Y Wladfa, the Welsh settlement in Patagonia.
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“The very natural tendency to use terms derived from traditional grammar like verb, noun, adjective, passive voice, in describing languages outside of Indo-European is fraught with grave possibilities of misunderstanding.”
—Benjamin Lee Whorf (18971934)