SSi Forum

Connections with other languages


I was in Brugge yesterday, in Flanders, Belgium. Flanders is well known for having â Celtic history, and the Belgae were a thorn in Caesar’s side, or so he said. I knew that nearby Gent was the Celtic settlement Ganda.
But I was really surprised in Brugge yesterday when I walked along the Dijver (old spelling Dyver) - I couldn’t help but see this as being Dyfr (dwr), particularly as it also means (body of) water. The Dijver connects to the river Reie, also a Celtic word, they say, cf. Rhine, Rhône


Well, it seems Wikipedia agrees with you about it being Celtic, but seems to think it’s something to do with Duw rather than dyfr. I’m afraid I’ve got not the faintest idea about how to decide who’s right! :wink:


what about this one?élivrande

When I looked up Dover - it said from dubris from dwfr as in Douvres in France, but not sure if this is the Douvres they meant.


It says something like holy water - the KISS principle leads me to think that water is more likely


Well, Douvre is the French name for Dover, anyway, so it makes sense to me.

I’m inclined to agree, I’m just cautious because I know that what seems obvious isn’t always so, ever since I realised that English ‘have’ is related to Latin capio (Welsh cael) and not to habeo ‘I have’. I don’t know anything about Dutch/Vlaams/Low German since they parted company with Old English, and I’ve got even less idea about Continental Celtic, so I’m really just admitting my ignorance :slight_smile:


Something that played tricks with how I think about things today, was reading that the word Germani may have been of Celtic origin and used as a reference to the geographical region or to non-Gaullish peoples close to (Ger) the Rhine. Also the Tutones which gives rise to teutonic may not have been what we think of today as Germanic - maybe from Scandinavia and not Celtic either. I will bow to others who know more than me, since I have only been reading things via wikipedia and the like, but Julius Caesar and others may have used Germani to refer to from a region close to the Rhine and when referring to peoples we might now think of as Germanic, speaking Germanic languages, might have used words like Suebi and Barbarians.


Just came across Hunebedden in Drenthe - megalithic graves. One Indo European word for Grave is apparently *B(h)ed(h) - Welsh Bedd. I wonder if the bedden in Hunebedden means graves - if that word had cropped up in an old Welsh book I would probably be thinking “those graves or buried by there”. I don’t know where exactly the name comes from anyway, for all I know it may in fact be modern and so Germanic and completely unrelated, but throwing it out there.

Edit: just saw this on Wikipedia

The etymology of the German Hünenbett, Hünengrab and Dutch hunebed - with Hüne/hune meaning “giant” - all evoke the image of giants buried (bett/bed/grab = bed/grave)there.



This is a fascinating thread! I’m a bit late to this party so I haven’t read all 187 message, I apologise if this has been covered to death.

Coxa in Latin is hip. Which is clun in Welsh.
Clun is also thigh, which is femur in Latin.

So coes has probably come from coxa and expanded its meaning.


I wonder if there were more surviving Latin words for some of these things - coxa - coes etc, because of how people dealt with the dead. The best way of doing anatomy is studying skeletons and corpses - many of the celts supposedly had a preference for funeral pyres and cremations and I’m wondering if those that buried the dead perhaps continuing earlier traditions using dolmens and cairns etc, whether it was quite a sacred thing and meant to be forever so maybe overall less skeletons to play around with?

I imagine Romans were a bit less concerned about such things and studied and developed words for them - just a thought. I have no real basis for what I’ve just said just thinking aloud.


Here’s one that only dawned on me recently: anffodus.

So Latin fāta (=English ‘fate’) is borrowed into Welsh, showing up as ffawd.
You can therefore stick an an- ‘un-’ on the front, and rather than making it negative in the sense of opposite, it makes it negative in the sense of ‘bad’ – anffawd ‘misfortune, bad fortune’.

And then you’ve got -us, which the GPC thinks might be borrowed from Latin -ōsus on the end of adjectives – like English ‘-ous’, via French: dolorous = douloureux = Welsh dolurus.

Stick -us on the end, shorten -aw- to -o-, and you’ve got anffodus ‘unfortunate’ – ‘un-fate-ous’ :slight_smile:


Some old Celtic links to the places we now call Spain and Portugal, which spoke mainly Celtic languages in the centuries leading up to the Romans and some time after. These are some words that I don’t think have lived on the the modern romance languages and words in Welsh that pop out to me as possible cognates - (can’t back this up unfortunately).

There were several Celtiberian languages and dialects - these are some common words to give a flavour of comparisons - (there are so many I could have written a page or two) .

Celtiberian; aila - stone building
Welsh: eilio, ailio - weave, join together, build, construct, plait
Welsh: adail and adeiladu - building, building material and to build
Celtiberian: Louto - to load
Welsh: Llwytho-to load

Celtiberian: Litania - broad place
Welsh: Llydan - wide, broad

Celtiberian: Kouneso - neighbour(ing)
Welsh: Cyfnes (now more commonly cyfagos) - near, close by

Celtiberian: Komteso - warm hearted, friendly
Welsh: Cynnes - warm, warm hearted, affectionate

and maybe an antonym:

Celtiberian: Litom -allowed
Welsh: Lluddo - forbid, refuse
(Lluddo in Old Welsh could well have been written luto or lito)


That is interesting – some of those do definitely look very plausible indeed – louto, litania and komteso in particular :slight_smile:


One that was new to me in a novel the other day – someone touched someone else’s cheek yn dyner – it seemed to be an affectionate gesture, and when I checked in the GPC, sure enough, tyner is related to English ‘tender’. It’s borrowed straight from Latin tener, teneris, whereas the English comes via French: in Vulgar Latin the second -e- of forms like tenere dropped out, leading French to stick in a -d- to make difficult-to-pronounce **tenre into easier tendre.

Catalan tendre, Italian tenero, Spanish tierno; also, apparently, more distantly related to words to do with stretching things thin, such as ‘tense’, ‘tent’, ‘thin’, tyn, tynnu ayyb.)


Here’s one that cam up the other day: dagreuol, ‘tearful’. I’d been meaning to do deigryn, dagrau for ages, but it was only when I saw dagreuol that it suddenly, finally dawned on me that all those -ol endings are basically the same as Latin -al adjectives, as in English ‘music, musical’, ‘electric, electrical’, ‘animate, animal’ etc. etc. etc.

Anyway: dagrau. Dagrau comes from an Indo-European root dakr-, with the -k- in the middle getting softened in Welsh. It shows up unchanged in Greek dakry/δακρυ, but with the d- changed (weirdly) to an l- in Latin and Italian lacrima, Catalan llàgrima, Spanish lágrima, French larme.

Germanic shifts all the consonants to tahr- (with the -h- probably being a bit like a Welsh ch), but then hesitates over whether to leave it as an -h- or change it to a -g-: it drops out of the middle of English ‘tear’ altogether, but it’s a ‘g’ in Gothic tagr and an ‘h’ in German Zähre.


Disclaimer: slightly OT and towards the non serious side.

You know when it’s time to go to sleep when you read:

and stop and think for at least a minute “that’s strange, I didn’t remember it also had this meaning…”
Then you realize.

By the way, back in topic, coxa definitely influenced the name of the thigh in Italian (coscia) while hip (ehm, in anatomy) is anca…don’t know why so different, though.




I looked up the Welsh word “Hardd” in GPC for beautiful and a little journey began. It gave two interesting connections _the mysterious words “Arduina Silva” and the Latin “Arduus”. I had no idea that it would lead me to “Penarth”, “Gwaelod-y-Garth” and the Ardennes. It also lead to a text from 1700 BC in Sanskrit (The Rigveda).

A word for height, rise or prominotory in Welsh is Garth or Ardd. This is the meaning in placenames like linking, Penarth and Gwaelod-y-Garth - meaning the top and bottom of a steep rise or prominotory position, Airdrie and lots of other places in Scotland and Ireland like Armagh and Ardoyne to European place names like Ardennes and place names around Brussels are linked to the word for height or rise - Celtic “ardwos” and Latin “Arduus”, lots of place names in France, also Brittany - Dinard (where Din means fort, did indeed have a prominotory hill fort) and a related Sanskrit word recorded in the Rigveda from 1700BC - is a word for rising or tending upwards, raise, elevated, height, upright - in the sense of a person of elevated status.

The ardennes are high Mountainous forests - arduina silva. A Celtic deity Arduina, has inscriptions across Europe - one on an altar in Germany and Arduina is supposedly a celtic equivalent of the Roman deity Diana, which is linked to the Greek godess Artemis. Artemis is supposed to derive from and old Persian word for someone of “high” status - just like the Celtic Arduina. Maybe they aren’t just equivalent, but exactly the same?.

The word “arduous” in English, I guess is from Latin Arduus indirectly, since the Latin and English meanings are the same - maybe linked to the effort of ascending a steep rise?

Hardd is simply the beautiful view from an elevated position, now widened in meaning, but still used in that sense.

Arth for bear may also be linked and so maybe arthur was a descriptive term for someone of high status or stature as in the Sanskrit sense if their derived word?

I’m wondering about other places like Ardeche, arduino and arduo in Italy, but nothing has popped out. Basically there could be place names all over the place - Henley on Arden and the Arden forest in England is definately related.

The reconstructed root word (PIE) is h₂erHd - quite similar to arth or ardd I think. I was wondering about the high peaks of the Harz mountains in Germany, but the experts have other ideas.


Sanskrit: ऊर्ध्व ūrdhvá

high, elevated, raised, above

also the Greek equivalent would be orthos _ hence the thinking that Artemis was borrowed into Greek from elsewhere, possibly old Persian.

Ardiòs e ichèra (or alternatively spelt ishera) in the pyrenees, France has a double whammy ard for height and iche as in uchel?


We have plenty of streets named Arduino in Canavese/Northern Piedmont.
And even an open-source hardware and software (
But their popularity comes from Arduino, King of Italy (whatever “Italy” was around year 1000!)
Then just found out there’s also a “frazione” (don’t know the proper term in English) of Cerrina Monferrato (AL) called Arduino - but it’s definitely not in a high place so very unlikely to be related to arduo Latin meaning.

However a French fiction TV series, I’ve just seen on Netflix, often refers to Celtic myths and features a group of environmental activists called les Enfants d’Arduinna!
It’s called Zone Blanche in French, Black Spot (?) in English.

Ardiòs e ichèra sound more like…some non-French language to me (some minority language of France or Spain?)


I followed your link and it’s impossible to say where that name comes from I suppose - apparently the great grandfather of that king adopted the family name. I guess the other place names then stem from that etc.

I suspect it must be linked with Gascon - I can’t quite work out what language, the area would be associated with now (apart from French), but one that comes under the Occitan umbrella I suppose.

I just skimmed a PhD thesis on Gascon and the “e” is used extensively in Gascon and the thesis was going into detail on how its use and origin differed from the other Occitan languages - but that was all above my level of understanding.


Well, it’s not a name I’ve come across before, but it looks like an Italian name of Germanic origin – Wiktionary compares it to ‘Harding’, but I think the English equivalent, if it existed, would be Hardwin (Old English Heardwine and cf. the name of the mediaeval French chronicler Villehardouin). Germanic names are usually a compound of two nouns or adjectives, and often run in families with variations – Edwin (wealth-friend) might have brothers Edward (wealth-guard) and Edgar (wealth-spear), and a sister Eadfrith (wealth-peace), and then name his children Godwin (God-friend) and Aelfwin (Elf-friend) and Hardwin (hard-friend). Some of these have gone out of fashion, some have stayed, some were revived by the Victorians: in the twelfth century practically every nobleman in Europe must have known someone called Baldwin, and my own name (Rich+hard = powerful-stern) works the same way.

I looked it up and got the French and Occitan Wikipedia entries for it – it is Gascon, which is a dialect of Occitan, but one that’s sufficiently different from the other dialects that when I’d learnt Languedoc dialect I found Catalan (technically a differetn language) easier to understand than Gascon (technically the same language). Think of it as the Occitan equivalent of Geordie.

One reason for the differences is that it borders a (historically) Basque speaking area, and has presumably some elements of Basque or a related language as substrate influencing it. The French-language Wikipedia article says that the name of the commune comes from the name of the stream that runs through it (the Ordios), and cites two suggested Basque/Aquitanian etymologies for it – urd ‘a plateau’ or ardi ‘a heap of rocks’.

The ‘arduous’ and Ardenne and, indeed, the Sanskrit all look perfectly cromulent, and I wouldn’t know about the Ardèche (but it looks plausible). On the other hand, garth can’t really be the same word if, as the GPC reckons, the g- is original and not some kind of un-mutating calediad; and arth, *artos is related to Greek arktos (the Arctic, beneath the Great Bear) and Latin Ursus. The actual reconstruction of the word was problematic for some years, because they couldn’t work out what combination of Indo-European sounds might account for all the different sounds found in daughter languages, and some scholars hypothesized that PIE might even have had a (English or Welsh-like) -th- sound: so, borrowing the name of the Old English th-rune, words like arth are still sometimes referred to as containing ‘thorn clusters’; the actual current reconstruction is something like *h2ŕ̥tkʹos – apparently it’s related to Sanskrit rākṣasa ‘destroyer, demon’ as well as ṛ́kṣas ‘bear’.