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the language of the Picts, who inhabited Scotland and the neighboring islands until approximately the ninth century A.D.It was displaced by Scottish Gaelic and the Germanic languages. Information on Pictish is based in part on numerous undeciphered inscriptions from Scotland and the Shetland and Orkney Islands, usually written in the oghamic alphabet and sometimes in the Latin alphabet. It is also based on Scottish toponyms and Pictish names recorded in ancient and medieval sources. Some researchers regard Pictish as a Celtic language with pre-Indo-European substratum elements, classifying it with either the Gaulish-Brythonic subgroup (P-Celtic languages) or the Goidelic subgroup (Q-Celtic languages). However, neither variant of the Celtic hypothesis explains the Pictish inscriptions; the words ccrroscc (“cross”) and maqq ~ meqq (“son”) are clearly of Goidelic origin and may be borrowings from Old Irish. Other linguists find no basis for relating Pictish to the Indo-European languages. Among Pictish proper nouns there are words of Celtic origin, which may be borrowings, and words of presumed pre-Indo-European origin. Pictish inscriptions contain many double consonants in all positions, with a typical inscription reading ETTOCUHETTS AHEHHT-TANNN HCCVVEVV NEHHTONS. This apparently points to a phonological opposition, perhaps of strong and weak consonants, not in Irish and not able to be represented by the usual means of the oghamic alphabet.
REFERENCEThe Problem of the Picts. Edited by F. T. Wainwright. New York, 1956.
A. B. DOLGOPOL’SKII