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.

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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.

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Celtic Pathways – Soft Bogs

In this episode we discover the soft and tender Celtic roots of the word bog.

Bogs of Connemara

A bog is an area of decayed vegetation which forms a wet spongy ground too soft for walking on, and comes from Middle English bog (swamp, morass), from Irish / Scottish Gaelic bog (soft, tender, marshy, boggy), from Old Irish boc (soft, gentle, tender), from Proto-Celtic *buggos (soft, tender), from PIE *bʰewgʰ- (to bend, curve) [source].

Related words in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • bog [bˠɔɡ / bˠʌɡ] (noun) = soft, tender, flabby, indulgent, lenient, mellow (voice), mild (weather), loose, lukewarm in Irish
  • bog [boɡ] = flabby, soft, limp, pulpy, moist, marshy, boggy, sloppy, foolish, damp, humid in Scottish Gaelic
  • bog = soft, easy, tender, flabby, pulpy, slack, limp, moist, soft-hearted, callow in Manx
  • bouk [buːk] = soft, cozy, heavy, stifling (weather) in Breton

English words from the same PIE root include badge, bagel, bay, (to) bow, bow (and arrow), buck and elbow [source].

Incidentally, the word bog is also slang for toilet / bathroom (originally latrine or outhouse) in the UK (especially in northern England), Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and a boglet is a small patch of boggy ground, or a kind of supernatural being like a bogle or goblin.

More about words for 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.

Tóg go bog é! (Take it easy! – Irish).

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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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Adventures in Etymology – Bone

In this adventure we’re uncovering the origins of the word bone.

Bones

A bone is:

  • A composite material consisting largely of calcium phosphate and collagen and making up the skeleton of most vertebrates.
  • Any of the components of an endoskeleton, made of bone.

It comes from Middle English bon (bone), from Old English bān [bɑːn] (bone, ivory), from Proto-Germanic bainą [ˈbɑi̯.nɑ̃] (leg, bone), from *bainaz [ˈbɑi̯.nɑz] (straight), from PIE *bʰeyh₂- (to hit, strike, hew, cut) [source].

Words from the same roots include been (leg, limb, side) in Dutch, Bein (leg) in German, ben (leg, bone, sinecure) in Danish, bít (to beat, fight) in Czech, and buain (harvest, reap, cut) in Scottish Gaelic [source].

Incidentally, in Old English a poetic way to refer to the body was bānhūs [ˈbɑːnˌhuːs] (“bone house”). It was also called a sāwolhūs [ˈsɑː.welˌhuːs] (“soul house”) or feorhhūs [ˈfe͜orˠxˌhuːs] (“life/soul house”) [source].

Here’s a song in Scottish Gaelic about cutting the bracken (buain na rainich) called ‘Tha mi sgìth’ (I’m tired), sung by Brian Ó hEadhra:

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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.

Celtic Pathways – Holding On

In this episode we’re getting to grips with words for holding and and related things.

Paimpol - Breton Dance Display

A Proto-Celtic word for to grab, seize, take or hold is *gabyeti, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *gʰeh₁bʰ- (to grab, take) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • gabh [ɡavʲ/ɡo(ː)] = to take, arrest, go, come in Irish
  • gabh [gav] = take, go, recite, break (in) in Scottish Gaelic
  • gow = to take in Manx
  • gafael [ˈɡavaɨ̯l/ˈɡaːvai̯l] = to hold, grasp, grip in Welsh
  • gavel = capacity, grasp in Cornish

There doesn’t appear to be a related word in Breton.

The Spanish word gavilla (sheaf, gang, band) comes from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Late Latin gabella and the Gaulish *gabali (taking, seizure) [source].

The word gwall (large amount), and which is apparently used in the English of Cork in Ireland comes from same Celtic roots via the Irish word gabháil (catch, seizure, assumption) [source].

Words from the same PIE roots include able, debt, debit, doubt and habit in English, avere (to have) in Italian, avoir (to have) in French, and haber (to hold, possess) in Spanish [source].

You can find more details of words for Taking Hold and related things 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 – Protruberances

In this episode we’re looking at Celtic words for hill and breast and related things.

Snowdonia in the sun

A Proto-Celtic word for hill is *brusnyos, which comes from Proto-Celtic *brusū (belly, abdomen, breast), possibly from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰrews- (belly, to swell) [source].

Descendents in the modern Celtic languages include:

  • broinne = breast, bosom, brink, verge in Irish.
  • broinne [brɤin̪ʲ] = belly, stomach, womb, bulge in Scottish Gaelic
  • brein = big, great, grand, heavy, tall in Manx
  • bron [brɔn] = breast, bosom, thorax, hill-side, slope in Welsh
  • bronn [brɔn] = breast, hill in Cornish
  • bronn [brɔ̃n] = breast in Breton

Words from the same Proto-Celtic root, via the Proto-West-Germanic *brunnjā (chainmail shirt), include: brynja (coat of mail) in Icelandic, Swedish and Faroese, brynje (mail, armour) in Danish, brynje (coat of armour, protective clothing for motorcyclists) in Norwegian, and броня [brɔˈnʲa] (armour, armoured vehicle, shell) in Ukrainian [source].

The English words breast, brisket and bruise come from the same PIE root, as do borst (chest, thorax, breast) in Dutch, and bröst (breast, chest, thorax) in Swedish [source].

You can find more details of words for Hills 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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