Cumbraek (Cumbric)

I had read the Wikipedia article on Cumbric before, but this site

was a new discovery for me.

As well as Cumbric, it gives an overview of all the Celtic languages, as well as some other interesting material on languages.

An excerpt from the intro page:

Cumbric is the name given by linguists to a relatively little known language spoken in parts of southern Scotland and northern England during the Middle Ages. It forms part of the Brythonic Celtic group of Indo-European languages and was closely related to Welsh, Cornish, Breton and Pictish.

Origins of the Term
The word Cumbric is a modern (English) linguistic term, equivalent to the Welsh Cymraeg ‘Welsh language’ but taking influence from the Old Irish Combrec ‘any British language’ and the name Cumbria, which was originally a much wider region than the modern English county.

Cumbric is not a language as we usually understand the term: Cumbric does not exist in its own right, with a distinct lexicon and grammar. Instead, Cumbric is a term used to describe the historical evidence of a Brythonic tongue from a particular area of Great Britain. Whilst we can say that this word or sentence is English because it has a collection of features which are unique to English (vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax etc), the only way to define something as Cumbric is to say that it is a Brythonic feature which originates in a particular area at a particular time in history. To understand Cumbric we must first define the region and the period in which it occurred; only then can we investigate whether this academic term really applied to a language, understood as such by its speakers.


Interesting, thanks for that link. Linguistic boundaries fascinate me, mainly because I was born in a village which has a Welsh name but which is in the middle of England and I have found that there is no easily accessible information out there as to its historical roots. My home village of Pentrich in Derbyshire, nearby Crich, the river Derwent, the Dove (apparently from du/black), the Amber and a relatively short drive to Mam Tor among others all point to some version of Cumbric being used well into the medieval period when place names became more consistent. However all the sources I have read point to its use being superseded by English along with the rest of the Midlands. It is a fascinating, if difficult subject.


Hi Robert,

Interesting indeed. I know that area somewhat, as my wife’s parents lived not too far from there for many years, and we did a fair amount of exploring the Peaks at one time.

My direct connection is that both my parents came from Cumbria, and it’s fascinating to imagine my ancestors speaking something which we may imagine wouldn’t have been too far from Welsh, although it’s impossible to prove it.

The place names in their part of the world (the Furness peninsula) are mostly of Scandinavian origin I believe, although there must also be some Celtic names among them.

I hope it’s ok to post this here.
This is the kind message that I received from the Cumbric Word of the Day team. It relates to their interview on Radio Cymru if anyone (like me) missed it. The interview is in Welsh.

Thanks very much, John! We really appreciate your interest in the topic. Here is the link: … (1:00:10 to 1:07:10)


As the thread starter (even if I had forgotten about it) it’s more than ok with me John! :slight_smile:

I am quite literally virtually astonished (but in a nice way) that there is such a thing as the “Cumbric Word of the Day team”, and I look forward to listening to this! :slight_smile:

(I shall be counting sheep in Cumbric tonight…(well, perhaps more virtually than literally… :wink: ).

For sheep counting I guess it would have to be Yan-Tan-Tethera?

The lakes version goes like this from ten onwards, according to wikipedia - apparently faded out of use just before the first world war:

Dig, Ain-a-dig, Pein-a-dig, Para-a-dig, Peddaer-a-dig, Bunfit, Aina-a-bumfit, Pein-a-bumfit, Par-a-bunfit, Pedder-a-bumfit, Gigg

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