Celtic Pathways – Fortified Dunes

In this episode we uncover Celtic fortresses among the sand dunes.

Killinallan

A dune is a ridge or hill of sand piled up by the wind. It comes from Proto-West Germanic *dūn(ā) (sand dune, hill), via French or Dutch, from Proto-Germanic *dūnaz (accumulation, pile, heap, mound), or from Gaulish dunum (hill), from Proto-Celtic *dūnom (stronghold, rampart), all of which come from Proto-Indo-European *dʰuHnom (enclosure) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • dún [d̪ˠuːnˠ] (fort(ress), place of refuge, residence, house) in Irish
  • dùn [duːn] (fortress, heap) in Scottish Gaelic
  • doon [duːn] (fort, stronghold) in Manx
  • din [dɪn] (city, fortress, stronghold), and dinas (city) in Welsh
  • din [di:n] (fort) in Cornish
  • din [ˈdĩːn] (fortress) in Breton

Apart from dinas in Welsh, these words are mostly found in placenames, such as Dún Dealgan (Dundalk) in Ireland, Dún Dè(agh) (Dundee) in Scotland, Dinbych (Denbigh) in Wales, Dinmeur (Dunmere) in Cornwall, and Dinan in Brittany.

Words from the same Celtic roots possibly include town and down (a [chalk] hill, rolling grassland) in English, tuin (garden, yard) in Dutch, tún (hayfield) in Icelandic, and тын [tɨn] (fence [especially one made of twigs]) in Russian [source].

Words same PIE roots include dusk, dust and fume in English, dagg (dew) and dy (mud, mire, sludge) in Swedish, and fem (dung, manure) in Catalan [source].

More about words for Castles & fortresses and related things in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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Celtic Pathways – Horny Peaks

In this episode we find Romance horns among Celtic peaks and mountains.

Panoramic view from Snowdon / Golygfa panoramig o'r Wyddfa

In Proto-Celtic, the word *bandā means top, peak or horn, and *benno means peak or top. They are thought to be related, and possibly come from the PIE *bendʰ- (pin, point).

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • beann = horn, antler or fork prong in Irish
  • beann [bjaun̪ˠ] = horn, peak or top; and beinn [bein̪ʲ] = mountain or high hill in Scottish Gaelic
  • beinn = mountain, summit or pinnacle in Manx
  • ban [ban] = top, tip, summit or peak in Welsh
  • ban = prominence in Cornish
  • bann = rising, uphill, post or column in Breton

Words from the same Celtic roots include ben (mountain, hill) in Scots, as in Ben Nevis (Beinn Nibheis), etc, banya (horn) and banyut (horned, unfaithful) in Catalan, and bana (horn) in Occitan [source].

Words same PIE roots include peak and pin in English, pinne (chopstick, perch, point) in Swedish, pind (stick, perch, peg) in Danish, and pin (peg, pin) in Dutch [source].

More about words for Peaks and related things in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Needles and Scythes

In this episode we discover Romance scythes in a stack of Celtic pins and needles.

Pins and Needles

The Proto-Celtic word *delgos means pin or needle. It comes from Proto-Indo-European *dʰelg- (sting) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • dealg [ˈdʲal̪ˠəɡ] = thorn, prickle, spine, spike, pin, peg or brooch in Irish
  • dealg [dʲal̪ˠag] = pin, skewer or knitting needle in Scottish Gaelic
  • jialg = needle, prick, quill, thorn or pin in Manx
  • dala [ˈdala] = sting or bite in Welsh

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via Gaulish *dalgis (scythe) and Latin *daculum (scythe) , possibly include dall (mowing, billhook) in Catalan, dalle (scythe) in Spanish, and dalha (scythe) in Occitan (Languedoc) [source].

The English word dagger, and related words in other languages, such as daga (dagger) in Spanish, and Degen (rapier, épée) in German, might come from the same Celtic roots [source].

Words from the same PIE root include dálkur (spine of a fish, knife, dagger, newspaper column) in Icelandic, dilgus (prickly) in Lithuanian, falce (scythe, sickle) in Italian, and falcate (shaped like a sickle) and falcifer (sickle-bearing, holding a scythe) in English [source].

More about words for Pins and Needles in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Swampy Cauldrons

In this episode we discover Celtic roots of the name Paris.

Pont des Arts, île de la Cité

Paris is the capital of France and the centre of the Île-de-France or Paris Region. From about 250 BC, the area, particularly the Île de la Cité (see above), an island on the River Seine, was home to the Parisioi, part of the Gaulish Senones tribe.

After the Romans conquered the area in 52 BC, they set up a town on the Left Bank of the Seine which they called Lutetia Parisiorum (“Lutetia of the Parīsiī”). This later became Parisius, and eventually Paris [source].

The Gaulish name of the tribe, Parisioi, which was Latinized as Parīsiī, possibly comes from the Gaulish word *parios (cauldron), from Proto-Celtic *kʷaryos (cauldron) from the PIE *kʷer- (to do, make, build) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • coire [ˈkɛɾʲə] = large pot, cauldron, boiler in Irish
  • coire [kɔrʲə] = kettle, corrie, cauldron in Scottish Gaelic
  • coirrey = cauldron, boiler, maelstrom in Manx
  • pair [ˈpai̯r] = cauldron, large pot, boiler in Welsh
  • per [ˈpeːr] = cauldron in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via Gaulish and Latin, include paiolo (copper cooking pot, cauldron) in Italian, perol (cauldron) in Catalan, perol (cauldron) in Spanish, and pairòl [pai̯ˈɾɔl] (kettle) in Occitan (Languedocien) [source].

Words from the same PIE root include Britain, Brittany and karma in English, cruth [kɾˠʊ(h)] (shape, appearance, state) in Irish, pryd [prɨːd] (sight, appearance, aspect) in Welsh, and काम [kɑːm] (work, task, job, function) in Hindi [source].

Britain and Brittany come from Middle English Britayne/Breteyn (Britain, Brittany), from Anglo-Norman Bretai(g)ne (Britain, Brittany), from Latin Brit(t)ānnia ([Great] Britain, [Roman province of] Britannia), from Βρεττανία (Brettaníā – Brittania, Great Britain), ultimately from Proto-Brythonic *Pritanī (Briton(s)), from Proto-Celtic *Kʷritanī/*Kʷritenī, from the PIE *kʷer- (to do, make, build) [source].

So the name Paris has Celtic roots. How about Lutetia? That comes from Gaulish *lutos (swamp), from Proto-Celtic *lutā (dirt, mud), from PIE *lew- (dirt, mud), which is also the root of lutulent (pertaining to mud, muddy) in English, and lodo (mud, muck, mire) in Spanish [source].

More about words for Cauldrons and Kettles and related things in Celtic languages.

You can find more connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Hollow

In this episode we’re delving into Celtic words for hollow and related things.

Hollows

The Proto-Celtic word *tullos means pierced, perforated or hole, and comes from Proto-Indo-European *tewk- (to push, press, beat, pierce, perforate), from *(s)tew- (to push, hit) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • toll [t̪ˠoːl̪ˠ] = hole, hollow, posterior, piereced, empty in Irish.
  • toll [tɔul̪ˠ] = hole, penetration, hole, hold (of a ship) in Scottish Gaelic
  • towl = aperture, bore, cavity, crater, hole, hollow in Manx
  • twll [tʊɬ] = hole, aperture, dimple, hollow, pit, cave, burrow, den, orifice in Welsh.
  • toll = burrow, hollow, hole, opening, orifice in Cornish
  • toull [ˈtulː] = holed, pierced, hole, entrance in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root in other languages include tollo (hole in the ground where hunters hide, puddle) in Spanish, toll (pool, puddle) in Catalan, and tol (ditch, dam) in Galician [source].

Words from the same PIE root possibly include tkát (to weave) in Czech, тъка [tɐˈkɤ] (to spin, plait, entwine, weave) in Bulgarian and tkać (to weave, stick, tuck) in Polish [source]. Also stoke in English, stoken (to poke, stoke, light a fire, stir up) in Dutch, and estoquer (to impale) in French [source]

You can find more details of words for hollows, holes, caves and related things on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Radio Omniglot podcasts are brought to you in association with Blubrry Podcast Hosting, a great place to host your podcasts. Get your first month free with the promo code omniglot.

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Celtic Pathways – Surface and Skin

In this episode we’re looking into words for surface, skin and related things in Celtic languages.

Hippo very close

The Proto-Celtic *tondā means surface or skin and comes from the Proto-Indo-European *tend- (to cut off) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic language include:

  • tonn [t̪ˠɑun̪ˠ] = surface or skin in Irish.
  • tonn [tɔun̪ˠ] = skin or hide in Scottish Gaelic
  • ton [tɔn] = rind, crust, peel, turf, unploughed land or lawn in Welsh
  • ton = grass in Cornish
  • ton [tɔn] = rind or surface in Breton

There doesn’t appear to be a cognate in Manx.

The English word tonne/ton comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via French, Latin and Gaulish [source]. Other words from the same Proto-Celtic root include tonne (tonne/ton) in French, tona (tun – a type of cask, ton/tonne) and tonya (a type of sweet bun) in Catalan, tona (surface, skin, bark) and tonel (barrel, tun) in Galician, and tonel (barrel) in Spanish [source].

Incidentally, the English word tun (a large cask, fermenting vat) probably comes from the same roots, via Middle English, Old English, Proto-Germanic, Latin and Gaulish, as does the German word Tonne (barrel, vat, tun, drum), the Dutch word ton (barrel, ton, large amount), and the Irish word tunna (cask), which was borrowed from Latin [source].
(A bit of bonus content that’s not included in the recording.)

You can find more details of these words on the Celtiadur blog. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

Adventures in Etymology – Salt

Today we’re looking into the origins of the word salt.

Sea Salt

Salt [sɒlt / sɔlt / sɑlt] is:

  • a white powder or colourless crystalline solid, consisting mainly of sodium chloride and used for seasoning and preserving food

It comes from the Middle English salt(e) / se(a)lt [salt/sɛlt] (salt), from the Old English sealta [sæ͜ɑɫt] (salt, salty, salted), from the Proto-West-Germaic *salt (salty), from the Proto-Germanic *saltaz [ˈsɑl.tɑz] (salty), from *saltaną [ˈsɑl.tɑ.nɑ̃] (to salt, pickle) from the PIE *seh₂l- (salt) [source].

In most modern Indo-European languages, words for salt begin with an s and contain an l, including sel in French, sal in Catalan, Spanish, Galician, Portuguese and Spanish, sollan in Manx, and sól [sul] in Polish. [source].

Exceptions include sare [ˈsa.re] in Romanian, zout [zɑu̯t] in Dutch, αλάτι [aˈlati] in Greek, աղ [ɑʁ] in Armenian, halen in Welsh, and holen in Cornish and Breton [source].

The word salary, comes from the same PIE root, via Middle English salarie, Old French salaire and the Latin salārium (salary), from salārius (related to salt), from sal (salt). It is thought that salārium was an abbreviation of salārium argentum (salt money), as Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt. However, there is no evidence for this [source].

Other English words from the same PIE root include salad, salami, saline, salsa, sauce, sausage, silt and halogen [source].

Here’s a video I made of this information:

Video made with Doodly [afflilate link].

I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog, and I explore etymological connections between Celtic languages on the Celtiadur.

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