[Northkeep] re: terms

Marc Carlson marccarlson20 at hotmail.com
Thu Jan 30 08:22:28 PST 2003

>From: Danielle <hegclan1 at valornet.com>
>>>so are you a celtic personna brother?
>>Certainly not, Ma'am, I'm an Erseman...
>>(Sorry, the terms have changed since the Middle Ages :) )
>pls explain to me the different m'lord.

Not a problem (and please, it's just Diarmaid).  BTW, I wasn't being
critical or anything, I was just joking.

To answer your request:

The idea of thinking of "Celts" as all one people is something that we get
from the 19th century.  Today there is an impression of "celtic" that they
were/are all one culturally monolithic people, which is something that would
never have occured to a person from the past.  Even the various "Celtic"
people thought of themselves as different people with different cultures
(some of them just had, by happy coincidence, -really- similar languages,
while others were mutually unintelligible).

In the Middle Ages, "Celtic" as a word, was something that the Romans used
to describe the ancient French (as was Gaulic).  The Irish were Irish (or
Erse, for those of us living in England (and generally thought to be hicks
and savages) - they considered themselves Gaelic.  The Scots were really two
peoples: the Highlanders, descended from Gaeilic ancestors who were too rude
and uncouth for the Irish (these were also called Erse at times - and also
considered themselves "Gaelic", althoughteh Irish would have argued the
point), and the Lowlanders who were more just pitied by those around them as
simply being slow and slackjawed - but at least lived in houses and aped the
more civilized peoples around them (they, of course, saw themselves as being
civilized and (much like Canada) just burdened with this really loud noisy
souther n neighbor that kept causing problems).  The Welsh, the Cornish,
even the Bretons were seen as little brown backwoods people that all spoke
weird languages that no one else could understand (sort of like the
stereotype of the West Virginia coal miners), while they in turn saw
themselves as the last holdouts of civilization against the barbarian
invasions from the East.

Actually, if you haven't seen it - in the play Henry V there are some very
good examples of how these different stereotypes were seen by Shakespeare's
time in the characters of Fluellen the Welshman, Jamy the Scot, and
MacMorris the Irishman (who as an Irish emmigrant fighting for the English
presents the Irish in a strongly negative light).

Anyway, like I said - I was really just joking, you know trying to make the
new person feel like part of the group, that sort of thing.  I'm sorry if I
didn't pull it off well.


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