The encounter and the conflict between the old Asturian language and Latin 2000 years ago was strong for centuries, Latin being the winner and overruling the old Asturian. Nevertheless, the old Asturian resisted dying altogether as is proven by a long list of  pre-Latin  Indo-European  words that, in spite of their geographical and linguistic limitations, still exist today. Through diachronic linguistics we know that  not only these words of Latin and Spanish origin exist in Asturian, but we also find every now and then other words from languages previous to Latin in Asturies, like some pre-Celtic and Celtic words.

This linguistic study of Asturian is very important due to its archaism. Neither the Romans nor the Visigoths did away with this archaism in rural areas.  In addition to this, the study of  these expressions is rendered more important because some of these archaisms, inherited from western Hispanic Indo-European,  are only found in Asturian.

Old Asturian words have two characteristics:

1.- The linguistic limitation caused by the predominance of Latin.

2.- The endemic morphologic contamination due to the Celtic basis, as well as a pre-Indo-European basis, common to Basque as well.


BASTIU in Asturiano, which means ‘storm’, ‘rain’ , which can also be said as ‘bastiazu’ ,’ bastiáu’, ‘bastiada’; in augmentative, ‘bastión’, and in diminutive, ‘bastín’ has a correlation with Celtic:

Modern Irish Celtic: báisteach ( pronounced ba:stiax) which means ‘rain’.

This ‘bastiu’ from old Asturiano was limited to the ‘drizzles’ and intermittent ‘storms’ that are common in the Cantabrian. Perhaps in Celtic Asturiano, before latin was generalised, it was a word used to describe ‘rain’ in a general way,  like  the Irish ‘báisteach’.


In summary:

Celtic Asturian: bastiu

Latin- Asturian-castellano: chuvascu, borrasca.

ARGAU (<arg-) in Asturiano, which means: ‘disarrangement’ (‘estrozu’, ‘desaguisáu’, ‘estropiciu’ ‘ruina’, ‘obra’, ‘faena’) in a immoral and negative sense.

From the same base as ‘argáu’ comes ‘argayu’ (argasus), ‘argayada’ (argaxada) “ruina montis”, ‘landslide’ (‘corrimientu de tarrén’, ‘movida de ñeve); As a verb, ‘argayar’ (argaxar). There is also the name ‘arba’ and the verb ‘arbar’, that share the same meaning as  ‘argayu’ and ‘argayar’, etc.

The etymological correlation can be found in Celtic and Hitite.

Irish Celtic: ‘argaim’, that means ‘destroy’, ‘undo’.

Hittite: hark- which means ‘destroy’, ‘undo’.

BARDA  (< bharda)  in Asturiano, which means ‘ thorn’, ‘brambles’ ‘undergrowth’ (‘espetu’, ‘escayu’, ‘maleza’. ‘Zarza’ in Spanish). In the masculine, BARDU, with the derivations of bardón and bardín, bardial and bardal, bardayu and bardayal, bardeiru andbardiu, etc. As a verb: esbardonar, desbardonar, esbardayar, desbardayar, esbardar, debardar, esbardiar, desbardiar, embardar, embardonar, embardayar, embardiar, etc.

This Indo-European word meaning ‘beard’ has an etymological correlation with Baltic, Slavic, Latin and Germanic, as well as Celtic.

Breton Celtic: ‘barf’ (beard); Lithuanian: ‘barudá’ (beard); Old Slavic ‘brada’ (beard); Russian: ‘borodá’ (beard); Latin ‘barba’.


It appears that this ‘barda’ from old Asturian was introduced by the Celts with the meaning of ‘beard’. as we said. But the arrival of the Romans in Asturies 2000 years ago brought a word (barba, ae) with the same meaning. That’s when the fight to enforce the use of these two words began. The Latin ‘barba’ was used almost unanimously in the linguistic field of Asturies, limiting the use of the old Asturian ‘barda’  to the ‘barda terrestris’, that is, brambles and thorns.

In summary: there is an Indo-European word, ‘bharda’, ‘barba’, duplicated in Asturian.

Celtic Asturian: BARDA < bharda,  ‘barba terrestris’, in a metaphorical sense.

Latin Asturian: BARBA< bharba , ‘barba’

VELISCU (VELISCA) in Asturian, with the variants ‘viliesgu’ (viliesga), ‘velisgu’ (velisga), ‘vilisgu’ (vilisga). In Spanish, ‘ bizco’, ‘bizca’ comes from the Indo-European root “weid” (see’)+ the suffix -‘iscu’, with the negative  sense of ‘twisted’, ‘warped’, ‘backward’. Etymologically, we have the correlation ‘-d-‘ into ‘-l- ‘from the root ‘weid’. We find a connection with the Breton Celtic: ‘gwelout’-‘see’; and with the Welsh Celtic  ‘gweler’ , ‘hedge’.

This change of d > l , within the diversity of Indo-European languages, only happens in Celtic and Asturian, which proves their familiarity.

The limitation in reality of the base ‘wel-‘ in Asturian was relegated to ‘shortsightedness’. For example: Ah, Maruxa, la to nena ye velisca: ¿nun ves que tien los güeyos reviraos? (ah, Maruxa, your daughter is shortsighted: don’t you see her eyes are swerved?)

GORAR O GURAR in Asturiano  means ‘incubate’, (eggs), ‘cover’, ‘make love’, fertilise’, It has the contaminated variants of ‘ guarar’, ‘guariar’, ‘guarare’, guariare’, and ‘golar’, based on the Indo-European root “gwher-” or “gwhor-“, as the Indo-European languages do for words ended in ‘-o’.


Breton Celtic: ‘goriñ-‘ < ‘gwhor’, with the contaminated variants ‘gwariñ’, ‘gwriñ’ and ‘goleiñ’, meaning incubate (eggs), cover (‘gorerez’ < ‘gwhor’ -hen) (‘goradur’ <  ‘gwhor ‘-incubation), etc.

Root with vocalisms in ‘e’.

The Irish ‘gorim’ and especially the Breton ‘gorñ’ with the same meanings and phonetics as in Asturiano, indicate that the Celts brought and left the term ‘gorar’ throughout Asturias.

TAR < Sta.

Irish Celtic: Ta< Sta-.

This Asturian verb (tar) and the Irish (tá) < sta (steHt, stHt), so often heard in the Indo-European languages, has a syntactic rule common to both languages with regards to questions and answers and the expressions of third person singular in the present simple.

Modern Irish Celtic: Tá Thomas sasta. (Thomas is happy)

Modern Asturian: Tá Tomás contentu . (Thomas is Happy)

Modern Irish Celtic: An bhfuit Thomas? Tá. (Is Thomas here? He is.)

Modern Asturian: ¿Tá Tomás? Tá. (Is Thomas here? He is.)

It is very clear that this root (sta, steHt, stHt), so thoroughly Indo-European, was brought to Asturies by pre-Celts (starting, < e-sta-n) and also by the Celts ( ta- < (s)ta-) before the arrival of Latin to the Cantabrian coast, enduring as the Celtic  remnant ‘TA’. Nevertheless, the arrival of the Romans in Asturies 2000 years ago caused this ‘TA’ to be absorbed by the Latin ‘sto’, ‘-as’, ‘-are’.


” The Linguistics of Pre-Roman Asturian”;  Manuel G. Menéndez Nadava.

Translation from Asturian to English:

Maritsa Solares.


1st.- Storm in Uviéu. Source: LNE newspaper; Author: unknow.

2nd.- Autumn beard. Source: Pinterest. Author: unknow.

3rd.- Hen hatching eggs. Source: google. Author: unknow.



  1. If these words came from ancient Celtic, they wouldn´t sound anything like Modern Irish. Languages change a lot, so even Modern Irish sounds nothing like Old Irish or Ancient Celtic. We do know that Asturiano comes from from Latin because the if we undo the systematic changes in Asturiano, we get Vulgar Latin or Romance. The same as we would if we did the same in Castillian, Catalan or whatever other latin language. Meanwhile we know Welsh is Celtic because if we undo the sound changes of Welsh, we get Proto-Celtic.

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