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.)