Can Hens Sing?

Four hens

What is the connection between singing and hens?

Hens don’t sing, but the words for to sing / speak in Celtic languages come from the same root as the English words hen and chant.

The root is the Proto-Indo-European *keh₂n- (to sing) [source].

This became *kan- (to sing) in Proto-Celtic, which became canaid (to sing) in Old Irish, and can (to chant, sing, speak, talk) in modern Irish. In Scottish Gaelic it became can (to sing, rehearse, say, name or call), and in Manx it became caayn (to bray, whine; song).

In Proto-Brythonic it became *kėnɨd (to sing), which became canam (to sing) in Old Welsh, canu (to sing, intone, chant, state, say) in modern Welsh, kana (to sing) in Cornish, canaff (to sing) in Middle Breton and kanañ (to sing) in Breton [source].

In Proto-Germanic *keh₂n- became *hanô (rooster), *hanjō (hen) and *hōnaz (fowl). The English word hen developed from *hanjō, via the Old English hænn / henn (hen). In other Germanic languages these words became: Huhn (hen, chicken) and Henne (hen) in German; hen (hen) in Dutch [source]; and höna (hen) in Swedish [source].

*keh₂n- is also the root of the Latin canō (I sing), from which words for to sing in Romance language developed, such as chanter (to sing) in French and cantar (to sing) in Spanish [source], and the English word chant [source].

See also the Celtiadur

Frowning nosey nostrils!

Frowny face

What is the connection between frown, nose and nostrils?

The English word frown comes from the Middle English frounen (to frown as an expression of disapproval, displeasure, shame, fear, or jealousy), from the Old French frognier (to frown or scowl), from Gaulish *frognā (nostril), from the Proto-Celtic *srognā, from the Proto-Indo-European *sregʰ- (snore) [source].

The Proto-Celtic word *srognā is the root of the following words in the modern Celtic languages:

  • Irish (Gaeilge): srón [sˠɾˠoːnˠ] = nose; sense of smell; prow, projection
  • Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig): sròn [sdrɔːn] = nose, snout, trunk; promontory; snout (of a glacier); toe (of a shoe)
  • Manx (Gaelg): stroin [strɛin] = nose, promontory, headland, ness, naze, nose-piece
  • Welsh (Cymraeg): ffroen = nostril; muzzle of a gun, mouth of a cannon, nozzle of a pair of bellows; hole, entrance, opening (of a pipe), spout
  • Cornish (Kernewek): frig [fri:g] = nostril
  • Breton (Brezhoneg): froen = nostril, fri = nose

I’m not sure if the Cornish word frig comes from the same root, but it seems likely.

The French word renfrogner (to scowl), the Galician word enfurruñar (to frown, to get angry), the Spanish word enfurruñarse (to get angry, get cross, to sulk, to cloud over) also come from the same root.

Sources: Wiktionary, Am Faclair Beag, Online Manx Dictionary, Teanglann.ie, Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, Gerlyver Kernewek, Dictionnaire Favereau, Reverso

This is one of the connections I found recently while working on the Celtiadur, my collection of Celtic cognates.

Bulging Budgets!

What do the words bulge, budge and budget have in common?

The answer is, they all come from the same root.

Bulge comes from the Old Northern French boulge (leather bag), from the Late Latin bulga (leather sack), from the Gaulish *bulga / *bulgos, from the Proto-Celtic *bolgos (sack, bag, stomach) [source], from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰelǵʰ- (to swell) [source].

Budge, in the sense of “a kind of fur prepared from lambskin dressed with the wool on, formerly used as an edging and ornament, especially on scholastic habits”, comes from the Middle English bouge (to swell out, to bilge) from the Late Latin bulga (leather sack) [source].

Budget comes from the Middle English bogett / bouget / bowgette (leather pouch), from the Old French bougette (purse for carrying coins), the diminutive of bouge (leather bag, wallet), from the Late Latin bulga (leather sack) [source].

The Proto-Celtic word *bolgos is also the root of bolg, which means belly, stomach, abdomen, buldge or hold in Irish; belly, stomach, abdomen, corporation, bilge or bowl in Manx; and blister, bilge, bulb or womb in Scottish Gaelic [source].

In the Brythonic languages *bolgos became bol (belly, paunch, abdomen, stomach, bowels; tripe; appetite, desire, gluttony, liking) in Welsh [source], bolgh (breach, gap, opening) in Cornish [source], and bolc’h in Breton [source].

Budge, in the sense of to move, comes from a different root: from the Middle French bougier, from Old French bougier, from the Vulgar Latin *bullicāre (to bubble; seethe; move; stir), from the Latin bullīre (to boil; seethe; roil) [source].