Celtic Pathways – Bills and Gouges

In this episode we find connections between Celtic bills and beaks, and chisels and gouges in other languages.

Chisels

A gouge [ɡaʊdʒ] is a chisel with a curved blade for cutting or scooping channels, grooves, or holes in wood, stone, etc.

The word comes from Middle English gouge (gouge), from Old French gouge (gouge), from Late Latin goia / gu(l)bia (chisel, piercer), from Gaulish *gulbiā (beak, bill), from Proto-Celtic *gulbā / *gulbīnos (beak, bill) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • gulba = beak, bill, tip, point, projection in Irish
  • gulb [gul̪ˠub] = beak, nose in Scottish Gaelic
  • gylf = sharp point, knife, bird’s beak or snout in Welsh
  • gelvin = beak, bill in Cornish
  • gwlib = curlew, whimbrel (?) in Breton

Other words from the same Proto-Celtic roots, via Gaulish and Latin, include gulbia (gouge) in Galician, gubia (gouge) in Spanish, gorbia (ferrule*) in Italian [source].

*A ferrule is band or cap (usually metal) placed around a shaft to reinforce it or to prevent splitting [source].

Field Notes Woodgrain Pencil 6-Pack

Incidentally, the word chisel comes from Old Northern French c(h)isel (cutting tool, chisel), from cisoir (cutting tool), from Late Latin cīsōrium (cutting instrument), from Latin caedō (to cut, hew, fell), from Proto-Italic *kaidō, from PIE *kh₂eyd- (to cut, hew) [source].

Words from the same roots include cement, concise, decide, excise, hit, incision, precise and scissors in English; and hitta (to find, locate) in Swedish [source].

More about words for Beaks and Snouts 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 – Brooms

In this episode we’re sweeping French floors with Celtic shrubs.

brooms

The Proto-Celtic word *banatlo- means broom, as in the shrub Cytisus scoparius (a.k.a. common broom / Scotch broom) or similar plants. It comes from Proto-Indo-European *bʰenH-tlom (way, path) in the sense of “cleared path (in a wood)” [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bealaidh [bɛl̪ˠɪ] = broom in Scottish Gaelic
  • banadl [ˈbanadl] = broom in Welsh
  • banadhel = broom in Cornish
  • balan [ˈbɑːlãn] = broom in Breton

They all mean broom, as in the shrub, although the exact species of broom plant they refer to may vary from language to language.

According to An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language by Alexander MacBain (1982), there is a cognate in Irish: beally/i, however it doesn’t appear in any of the Irish dictionaries I’ve checked.

The French word balai (broom, broomstick, brush) ultimately comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via Old French balain (bundle of broom), Middle Breton balain, balazn, Old Breton balan (broom) and Gaulish *balano- (broom, broom plant), as does bálago (straw, Spanish broom) in Spanish and balea (broom) in Galician, possibly via Celtiberian *bálago-, *bálaco- [source].

Words same PIE roots possibly include bana (course, path, trajectory) in Swedish, baan (road, path, track, job, orbit) in Dutch, and Bahn (route, trail, railway) in German [source].

More about words for Brushes and Broom and related things in Celtic languages.

Incidentally, the tune at the beginning of this episode is one of my own compositions called Apple Blossom / Blodau Afal. Here’s a longer recording of it:

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 – 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.

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 – 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.

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Celtic Pathways – Bijou Fingers

In this episode we find Celtic fingers among French jewelery.

celtic wedding rings

The French word bijou means a jewel or piece of jewellry. It was borrowed from the Breton bizou (ring, jewel), which comes from biz (finger), which is ultimately comes from the Proto-Celtic *bistis (finger), from the PIE *gʷist- (twig, finger) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bys [bɨːs / biːs] = finger (of hand/glove), toe, medium, agency, hand (of clock) or latch and byson = ring in Welsh
  • bys = finger, digit, and bysow = ring in Cornish
  • biz [biːs] = finger, hand (of clock), tooth (of tool), leg (of anchor), tentacle or tendril, and bizou [ˈbiːzu] = ring, jewel in Breton

Words from the same PIE roots possibly include kvist (twig, stick) in Norwegian and Swedish, and gisht (finger) in Albanian [source].

The French word bijou was borrowed into English and means a jewel, a piece of jewellery, a trinket, or a small intricate piece of metalwork, which are collectively called bijouterie / bijoutry [source].

Bijou in English can also mean small and elegant (residence), or something that is intricate or finely made. This sense comes via Sabir (Mediterranean Lingua Franca) from Occitan pichon (small, little), which possibly has Celtic roots: from Proto-Celtic *kʷezdis (piece, portion) [source].

In Polari, a cant used in the London fishmarkets, in the British theatre, and by the gay community in the UK, bijou means small or little (often implying affection), and a bijou problemette is a little fault or problem [source].

More about words for Fingers and Toes 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 – 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 – Barnacle Geese

In this episode we discover the Celtic roots of words like barnacle.

Barnacles

The Proto-Celtic word *barinākos means barnacle or limpet It comes from the Proto-Celtic *barinā (rocky ground), and *-ākos (involved with, belonging to) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bairneach [ˈbˠɑːɾˠn̠ʲəx] = limpet in Irish
  • bàirneach [baːr̪ˠn̪ʲəx] = barnacle or limpet in Scottish Gaelic
  • ba(a)rnagh = barnacle in Manx
  • brennigen = limpet in Welsh
  • brenigen = limpet in Cornish
  • brennigenn = barnacle or limpet in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic roots include bernache (barnacle) in French, barnacle in English, and barnacla (brent/brant goose) in Spanish [source].

The French word bernache was borrowed from Medieval Latin barnēca (limpet), from Gaulish *barinākā. The English word barnacle arrived via Middle English barnakille, and Old Northern French bernaque (barnacle), and the Spanish word barnacla was borrowed from English.

More about words for Barnacles & Limpets 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 – Badgered Brochures

In this episode, we unfold the possible Celtic roots of the word brochure, and find out what it has to do with badgers.

Rotten Bran

The word brochure comes from French brochure (brocade, needlework, brochure, booklet), from brocher (to stitch, sew, brocade), from Old French brochier (to jab, prod), from broche (brooch, pin), from Vulgar Latin brocca, from broccus (pointed, sharp), possibly from Gaulish *brokkos (badger), from Proto-Celtic *brokkos (badger) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • broc [bˠɾˠɔk] = badger, or a dirty-faced or a short thick-set person in Irish
  • broc [brɔxg] = badger, or a grumpy/surly person in Scottish Gaelic
  • broc(k) = badger in Manx
  • broch [broːχ] = badger in Welsh
  • brogh [bɹoːx] = badger in Cornish
  • broc’h [ˈbʁoːx] = badger in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root include brooch and brock (male badger – northern English dialects) in English, brock (badger) in Scots, broche (brooch, spit, spike, peg, pin) in French, brocco (thorn, stick) in Italian, and broco (having long projecting horns; bad-tempered) in Galician [source].

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

Here’s a little tune I wrote a few years ago called The Unexpected Badger / Y Mochyn Daear Annisgwyl, inspired by an encounter with a badger in Glencolmcille in Donegal in the northwest of Ireland:

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 – Rotten Bran

In this episode we discover the rotten Celtic roots of the English word bran, the Galician word braña (meadow, bog), and related words in other languages.

Rotten Bran

The Proto-Celtic word *bragnos means rotten. It comes from the PIE *bʰreHg- (to smell, have a strong odour) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bréan [bʲɾʲiːa̯nˠ] = foul, putrid, rotten or to pollute in Irish
  • breun [brʲeːn] = foetid, putrid, disgusting or filthy in Scottish Gaelic
  • breinn = foetid, loathsome, nasty or offensive in Manx
  • braen [braːɨ̯n] = rotten, putrid, corrupt or mouldy in Welsh
  • breyn = putrid or rotten in Cornish
  • brein [ˈbrɛ̃jn] = rotten or uncultivated in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Gaulish brennos (rotten) and the Latin *brennos, include bran in English, berner (to trick, fool, hoodwink) in French [source].

The Asturian word braña (pasture, meadowland), and Galician word braña (mire, bog, marsh, moorland) possibly also come from the same Proto-Celtic root [source].

Words from the same PIE root include flair, fragrant, and bray in English, and брага [ˈbraɡə] (home brew) in Russian [source].

More about words for Rotten 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 – Whisk(e)y and Biscuits

In this episode we’re gazing into the origins of the words whisk(e)y and bourbon, both of which have Celtic roots.

Whisky

Whisk(e)y is a liquor distilled from the fermented mash of grain (such as barley, rye or corn). It’s typically written with an e in Scotland, Canada and Australia, and without an e in Ireland, England and the USA. This distinction emerged in the 19th century.

It was borrowed from the Irish uisce beatha [ˈɪʃcə ˈbʲahə]) and/or the Scottish Gaelic uisge-beatha [ˈɯʃkʲə ˈbɛhə], both of which mean “water of life” and which are calques of the Latin aqua vitae (“water of life”) [source].

The spelling and pronounciation of this word in English has varied over time: uskebeaghe (1581), usquebaugh (1610), usquebath (1621), and usquebae (1715). These were abbreviated to usque, which became whisk(e)y, which first appeared in writing in 1715 [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • uisce [ˈɪʃk̟ɪ] = water, rain, tears, saliva and in Irish
  • uisge [ɯʃgʲə] = water, rain in Scottish Gaelic
  • ushtey [ˈuʃtʲə] = water in Manx
  • beatha [ˈbʲahə] = life, living, sustenance in Irish
  • beatha [bɛhə] = life, existence, food in Scottish Gaelic
  • bea = animation, life, lifespan in Manx
  • bywyd [ˈbəu̯ɨ̞d/ˈbou̯ɪd] = life, existence; liveliness in Welsh
  • bewnans [‘bɛʊnans] = life, living in Cornish Gaelic
  • buhez [ˈbyːe(z)] = life in Breton

More about words for water and life in Celtic languages.

Forteresse médiévale
Bourbon l’Archambault

The word bourbon refers to a type of whiskey, named after Bourbon County in Kentucky, and/or Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Both names come from the French House of Bourbon, which is named after the lordship of Bourbon l’Archambault, which is now a town in the Allier department in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in central France [source].

Untitled
Bourbon biscuits

In the UK a Bourbon (biscuit) is a sandwich biscuit consisting of two thin rectangular dark chocolate-flavoured biscuits with a chocolate buttercream filling. The name also comes from the French House of Bourbon. According to a 2009 survey, it’s the fifth most popular biscuit in the UK for dunking in tea [source].

The French name Bourbon comes from Borvo, the name of a Celtic deity associated with hot springs, from Proto-Celtic *borvo (froth, foam), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰrewh₁- (to be hot, boil).

Words from the same PIE root include bruth (heat, rash, eruption) in Irish, bruth (heat, fire) in Scottish Gaelic, brooan (rash, eruption) in Manx, brwd (eager, keen, passionate) in Welsh, broud (ember, excitement) in Breton [more details of these words], and also bread, brew, broth, burn and fervor in English [source].

You can find more connections between Celtic and other 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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