Friday, December 16, 2011

Rumour has it that the A4-size sheet of paper which we Brits have to carry around to show our identity number - and which, lacking a foto, is useless for proving your identity - is to be replaced by a small card that will fit in your wallet/purse. But as this won't bear a foto either, you'll still have to carry a driving licence or a passport for this purpose. Unless, like me, you've told the police you've lost your original Tarjeta de Residencia so you can't hand it in. In which case, you can carry on using your expired card. Only one person in a hundred has checked mine and told me it's useless. And this was the notary being used for the sale of my house in the hills. It would have be a real coup if he'd accepted it. Or a profound comment on Spanish bureaucracy. It was no accident that I tried to get away with it.

But back to Europe's existential crisis . . . Will the ECB print the euros required or not? Well, the Bank of America believes it will, predicting that the ECB "will be forced to print money on a large scale but only after deep recession and months of drift have pushed the eurozone to the brink of disaster." One sincerely hopes not.

Reverting to earlier attempts to Germanicise Europe - well, Britain anyway - I've done some digging (OK only in Wikipedia) and come up with these nuggets of information about the genetic make-up of the English:- Sykes and Oppenheimer [around 2005] argued for significant immigration from Iberia into Britain and Ireland. However by 2010 several major studies presented more complete data, showing that the oldest-surviving male lineages had mostly migrated to Britain from the Balkans, and ultimately from the Middle East, not from Iberia. . . . That there are relatively clear signs of Germanic contact in parts of Britain is accepted but the stimulus, progression and impact of the Germanic settlement of Britain is subject to considerable disagreement, prompted by varying accounts and evidence. The Anglo-Saxons supplanted Celtic culture and society in much of southern and central Britain and contributed to the creation of Anglo-Saxon England and the use of the Old English Language.

Movement was not all one way, of course:- Many groups of native Britons even resettled on the continent, principally in Armorica (Brittany) in France and Britonia in Spanish Galicia, the homes of pre-existing Celtic communities.

Click here and here if you want more on this.

Finally . . . My sister's kitchen has an unusual feature - a tap which dispenses an instant jet of boiling water. I've long viewed this as inherently risky and yesterday I managed to prove this by scalding my left hand when making her a cup of tea. Shortly thereafter - when seeking to douse my painful hand in cold water - I also discovered that her cold tap dispenses hot water. And the more you turn it towards the blue button, the hotter it gets. Which is not good for a scald, I can assure you. I am now suing my sister, of course.


Candide said...

Oh that A4 paper! The provisional document was actually ID-card size, in plastic, had a photo and a fingerprint.

Than they gave us "the paper". To which one has to add: very poor quality of paper and print for such a purpose.

cade said...

Western Europe was re-populated from Northern Iberia by the end of the last Ice Age maximum. This theory is gathering evidence, but you are free to speculate with any Eastern Asia genetic trace origin.

Anything to disprove the Celtic-Galician conexion. Curiously, the Spanish Nationalist share the same concern.

Nevertheless, new light is being shed into the truly Celtic origin of Galician culture (yes, hard to find nowadays, buried under a Spanish overlay) since the Celt phenomenom has its roots in the Paleolithic and not in the Iron Age. Celtic is much more ancient than traditionally suppossed and if there is a Galician nation, then it is essencially Celtic.

But "Celticness" is a cultural concept, not ethnic or racial. The same as concepts like "Hispanidad" or "Cristianity". Only that the Celts are in the losers' side, and their (our) history is not written (yet).

How can you explain then the survival of cultural and anthropological costumes so similar in places along the Atlantic Arch? (read Barry Cunliff)

It's been millenia of Galician "Celtic" ("Atlantic" might have been a better suited term) evolution, in narrow contact and exchage with the rest of Atlantic Europe. The so apparent Spanish (Castilian, or Iberian, not Celtic) cultural overlay is only the last episode. Which tends to deny what came before. But ignorance is only a choice. Which, in this case, could benefit one certain political stance on what Galiza is and should be.

Candide said...

I live in Catalonia and I was taught that we are all Catalans.

Good to know we're all Galicians. It makes life so much more interesting.

Jimbob said...

I believe that the word Celtic is of fairly recent coinage, and the whole idea of a celtic identity is disputed by quite few historians. That said there is an undisputed linguistic link between the Irish Scottish, Welsh Cornish Manx, and Breton languages. I was very impressed by the beautiful Celtic monument my partner and I viewed in La Coruna- my apologies if this has been mis-spelt. Is it true the Galician language was lost because of the Roman invasion, or later?

Perry said...


If you are interested, there are these articles.

There is also a synopsis of "Blood of the Isles " at

Colin said...

Jimbob, I guess it depends what one means by "the Galician language". Today - and for quite a while - this is Gallego, which I understand to be one of the two Western Iberian languages descended from Latin. Portuguese is the other one and it is easy to see similarities between Gallego and Portuguese, at least when they are written. Neither of these languages has much derived from a Celtic tongue and I believe this has caused real problems for those Gallegos wanting to add Galicia to the (short) list of countries forming the Celtic League, to which here's a link . .

Anthea said...

Now, a German friendof mine has been compkaining about the Americanisation of Germany. Apparently the traditional "Weinachtsmann" has been replaced by a chap in a red coat called Santa Claus!!

cade said...


there is evidence that the old Galician Celtic (Gaelic) language was still spoken (in some remote "castros") until as late as the 8th century AD. From that on the Galician people conformed to a vernacular Latin, which still had plenty of Galician-Celtic material in it, of course.

By the way, Galician and Portuguese are the same language, which still keeps a lot of Celtic influence, as it is being discovered now. But you don't need to speak a Celtic language to be a Celtic nation, there are many more things than language to a culture / nation. For example, the Irish hardly speak any Irish, but they are still clearly Celts.

I must point out though that mr davies conforms very much to the old cliches and prejudices about Galician language and identity, widespread among Galicians themselves, and that coincide in denying both the Celtic and the Portuguese connections. This suits very well, of course, the Spanish Nationalistic doctrine.

Jimbob said...

Thanks to Colin, Cade and Perry, I ill have a look at the links - but will not comment, my knowledge on these matters is not sufficient at present.

Perry said...


I rather suspect you would receive & deserve a damn good kicking in any pub in the west of Ireland,if you were to express your view that Irish hardly speak any Irish.

Gaeilge is the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland. It is an official language of the European Union and an officially recognised minority language in Northern Ireland.

It seems you write neither cogently nor intelligently when you post here. Perhaps you should just leave

cade said...


I said that the Irish hardly speak any Irish, which is true. In a pub in Connemara you may utter the odd Irish expression, but English is mostly spoken. You will have to go to reduced and minor spaces of the Irish society to be able to hear and speak Irish. That is the sad reality.

Having said that, and taking into account all the hell of a lot of Anglo-Saxon influence, I can still see that the Irish are genuinely Celtic (much much so than Galicians). No doubt about that.

May I also note that many Irish have willingly forsaken their native tongue. Either actively (by refusing to learn it / practice it) or passively (by not acting against its demise).

But can this trend be changed? I don't see it happening, because English is a very "strong" language, and Irish (very different and "complex") will have to be learn from scratch, and for not apparent practical use. However, Galician can be learn more easily and will be useful, if put in the Portuguese context. Which is not happening. So I am not optimistic in any of the two cases.

But like I said, "Celticness" is more than just language.

cade said...

However, if I have to be terribly frank, I don't see the "Celticness" of Galicia / Galicians resurfacing. The "cultural levelling" on the Spanish mould is so pervasive that it would be more accurate to talk about an ancient Celtic-like layer or component, diluted in one all-embracing Iberian one. That explains why Galiza is not in the list of Celtic countries. And that equally explains why Galician language is - in fact - a Spanish dialect, even if in the philological realms (away from the Spanish realm) it is considered as a Portuguese co-dialect. Indeed, it is the own Galicians who are conceiving themselves within the Spanish reference, incapable of surpassing the limits (political and mental) imposed on them, very frequently with their own active help.. And in this Spanish space they are diluted.

This is a universal process in Human affairs, but I don't think it is any good, for most of the people. Nobody should condone it either, I mean, if you don't have a vested interest in it.

Colin said...

Dare I ask, Cade - What makes it obvious that the the Irish "are genuinely Celtic" and "much much so than Galicians"'?

What are inescapable prerequisites for being Celtic? If a Celtic language is not one of them?

cade said...

As someone who has lived among the Irish, in Ireland, for more than two years, and then in Scotland and in England, for a decade and a half, I can tell an Irish person from an English / British one as I walk past them, without having to hear them talking. Basically, the Celt Irish is a non-assertive person (the perfect opposite of your standard French, for exemple), has a different stance in presence of foreigners (more corteous, but diffident in the inside), acts more in tune with their peers in social contexts, is a very playful person, to the point of puerility (in that way possibly venting out their lack of assertiveness), drinks a lot, taking proud (without boasting) in being a heavy drinker, and acting very relaxed and warm and freindly and childlish while drunk, which is not a motive of embarrassment or telling off afterwards. The Irish Celt sings stills with a Celtic quality in his/her voice (which can still be noticed in their descendants in Canada, for example), builds their music, or their houses or their companies, anything, like, in a very relaxed, and apparently deficient way (only apparently), but organically well suited to the place or the occasion. She/he can be extremely lazy and work slothfully, which can be irritating in the eyes of the foreigner (because he/she don't understand the reason to be that way) and empathises with other people's faults or shortcomings, rather than being critical or sarcastic of them (like the English, or the Spanish, or the French are). The Irish lacks though the sense of English irony or the Galician "retranca", because being the way he/she (see above) is there is no need for it, which doesn't mean that they lack an acute and intelligent sense of humour. On the negative side, some of the above features can coincide to give us the picture of a somewhat vile, a wrteched person.

I could carry on and on, but to sum it up, mr davies, the irish are still very tribal / rural / celtic at heart, although less and less so as times goes by ...

Galicians used to be like many of the things above, but now they have changed and are, as you well know, like your average Spaniard (unless you go to rural areas).

In common with the Irish, though, they can become quite the opposite of the above when cut off from their native environment.

Anyway, if there is such a thing as "Britishness", what makes you think that there could not be such a thing as "Celticness"? Has it got to be central to being "British" or "Spanish" or french to consider the other just as a minor / incomplete version of your own self? There is no place to other realities?

(About the language: Even the way the Irish speak English, it is pervaded of their celtic old tongue. )

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