Controversy exists as to whether particular tribes
were German or Gaulish (Celtic), but this either/or view might be
too narrow a definition.
There exists both historical records and linguistic
evidence that German tribes were heavily influenced by Gaulish
language and culture. The contact had to be heavy, so heavy that
considerable mixing must have occurred.
This appears to have happened twice: Gauls may have
invaded Jutland, and possibly even southern Sweden, during
pre-history, and merged with the Germanic population to form hybrid
Germanic-speaking tribes such as the Vandali, and hybrid Gaulish-speaking
tribes such as the Belgic tribes, and probably the Veneti.
There are examples of mixing in the historical
record. One involves Maroboduus, king of a known German tribe called
the Marcomanni, which took over the Boii territory. Maroboduus ruled
a tribal alliance which seem to have included the Lugii, according
to Strabo. The name Maroboduus can be dissected as 'maro' (great)
and 'bodu' (raven) in common Gaulish.
Another example includes several kings of the West
Saxons who bore British (insular Gaulish) names such as Cerdic,
Ceawlin and Caedwalla.
These include the Germanic god Thor, which is their
pronunciation of the Gaulish Taranis. The modern name that Germans
use for themselves, Deutsch, is from a tribe called the Teutones,
whose name is from a common Gaulish word, not a proto-Germanic one
(although 'theudanoz' in proto-Germanic is a reconstruction that is open to
The name of the tribe called the Vandali, or Vandals, appears to
be a Gaulish word for blond/white, with perhaps a German suffix
attached; or perhaps not, as the Romans assimilated Gaulish peoples
around Switzerland and Austria which were known by a similar name,
As mentioned in two other articles in the Tribal
Names series (see related links, right), multiple tribal names seem
to derive from a root common to Celtic, Italic and probably Illyrian/Venetic
(ie. of Venice) languages and which means 'white'. This
was commonly related to hair colour, not skin colour, so this name would be
given to a baby born blond.