Celtic Pathways – New & Year

In this episode we are looking into words for new and year in Celtic languages.

A multilingual Happy New Year!

One Proto-Celtic word for new is *nouyos, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *néw(y)os (new), from which most words for new in Indo-European languages are descended [Source].

Related words in modern Celtic language include:

  • nua [n̪ˠuə / n̪ˠuː] = new, fresh, recent, novel; newness, new thing in Irish
  • nuadh [nuəɣ] = new, fresh, recent, novel, modern, unfamiliar in Scottish Gaelic
  • noa = fresh, modern, new, novel, original, recent, unused in Manx
  • newydd [ˈnɛu̯.ɨ̞ð] = new, recent, newly-grown, modern, late, novel, changed, fresh in Welsh
  • nowydh = fresh, new, novel, newly, just in Cornish
  • nevez [ˈne.ve] = new in Breton

The town of Noia in A Coruña in Galicia in the northwest of Spain probably gets its name from the same Proto-Celtic root, possibly via the Celtiberian nouiza [Source].

Another Proto-Celtic word for new is *ɸūros, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *puHrós (wheat), possibly from *pewH- (to be clean, pure) [Source].

Related words in modern Celtic language include:

  • úr [uːɾˠ] = fresh; free, liberal, moist in Irish
  • ùr [uːr] = new, fresh in Scottish Gaelic
  • oor = new, sweet, novel, sappy, crisp, span, fresh, hour, raw in Manx
  • ir [iːr] = verdant, green, juicy, sappy, moist, succulent in Welsh
  • yr [ɪ:r/iːr] = fresh in Cornish

Words from the same PIE roots include pure in English, პური (ṗuri – bread, wheat) in Georgian, and պուրի (puri – a type of Georgian bread) in Armenian [Source].

In Proto-Celtic words for year were *blēdanī/*bleido. which possibly come from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰloyd- (pale) [source].

Related words in modern Celtic language include:

  • bliain [bʲlʲiənʲ] = year in Irish
  • bliadhna [bliən̪ˠə] = year, vintage in Scottish Gaelic
  • blein = [blʲeːnʲ / blʲiᵈn] = year, twelvemonth in Manx
  • blwyddyn [ˈblʊɨ̯ðɨ̞n] = year, a long time, ages; lifetime, life in Welsh
  • bledhen = year in Cornish
  • bloavezh = year in Breton

Words from the same PIE root include бледный (pale) in Russian, бледен (pale, pallied, insignificant) in Bulgarian, and bledý (pale) in Czech [source].

More details of new and year-related words in Celtic languages can be found on the Celtiadur, a blog where I explore connections between Celtic languages in more depth. I also write about words, etymology and other language-related topics on the Omniglot Blog.

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