The Celtic languages (usually pronounced but sometimes )〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=American Heritage Dictionary. Celtic: kel-tik, sel )〕 are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family.〔''The Celtic languages:an overview'', Donald MacAulay, The Celtic Languages, ed. Donald MacAulay, (Cambridge University Press, 1992), 3.〕 The term "Celtic" was first used to describe this language group by Edward Lhuyd in 1707.〔Cunliffe, Barry W. 2003. ''The Celts: a very short introduction.'' pg.48〕
Modern Celtic languages are mostly spoken on the north-western edge of Europe, notably in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man, and can be found spoken on Cape Breton Island. There is also a substantial number of Welsh speakers in the Patagonia area of Argentina. Some people speak Celtic languages in the other Celtic diaspora areas of the United States,〔("Language by State – Scottish Gaelic" ) on ''Modern Language Association'' website. Retrieved 27 December 2007〕 Canada, Australia,〔("Languages Spoken At Home" ) from Australian Government ''Office of Multicultural Interests'' website. Retrieved 27 December 2007; G. Leitner, Australia's Many Voices: Australian English--The National Language, 2004, pg. 74
〕 and New Zealand.〔(Languages Spoken:Total Responses ) from Statistics New Zealand website. Retrieved 5 August 2008〕 In all these areas, the Celtic languages are now only spoken by minorities though there are continuing efforts at revitalisation. Welsh is the only Celtic language not classified as "endangered" by UNESCO.
During the 1st millennium BC, they were spoken across much of Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula, from the Atlantic and North Sea coastlines, up to the Rhine valley and down the Danube valley to the Black Sea, the northern Balkan Peninsula and in central Asia Minor. The spread to Cape Breton and Patagonia occurred in modern times.
SIL Ethnologue lists six "living" Celtic languages, of which four have retained a substantial number of native speakers. These are the Gaelic languages (i.e. the Irish language and Scottish Gaelic - both descended from Old Irish), and the Brittonic languages (i.e. Welsh and the Breton language - both descended from Old Brittonic).
The other two, Cornish and Manx, were spoken into modern times but later died as spoken community languages.〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://www.magakernow.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=38590#Revival )〕 For both these languages, however, revitalisation movements have led to the adoption of these languages by adults and children and produced some native speakers.
Taken together, there were roughly one million native speakers of Celtic languages as of the 2000s.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Celtic Languages )〕 In 2010, there were more than 1.4 million speakers of Celtic languages.
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