SSi Forum

Connections with other languages


And the knife traditionally worn with full Highland dress in Scotland is the

According to Wikipedia, although the primary meaning of “dubh” is “black”, in this context it can mean “hidden”.


Yes – and the Welsh and Irish for a ‘big sword’ – both ultimately borrowed from Latin gladius as in ‘gladiator’, I believe – was cleddyf mawr, cladib mór in Old Irish. The Old Irish is supposed to have been pronounced something like [klaðjj], so in Middle Irish I think it gets spelt something like claidheamh, with little change in pronunciation; then in modern Scots Gaelic they basically haven’t changed the spelling at all, even though 90% of the word is now silent, and so a claidheamh mór is a ‘claymore’.


wwww… :heart: [so they’re basically just not quite talking properly… :wink: ]


Wel, po bellach ti’n mynd i’r gogledd, medden nhw… :slight_smile:


…and Dublin - dubh linn - llyn du/dulyn - blackpool…


Old Irish Uisce as in Whiskey, meaning water is present in Welsh place names for Exeter - Caer Wysg - the Romans latinised it as Isca. Another Isca in Wales is Usk - Isca Augusta.

English rivers with Esk and Axe are supposed to come from the same route as Exe, but then they tend to link the origin to Welsh Pysg rather than Uisce, which seems odd to a layman like me.

Maybe and a big maybe the “wy” in many welsh river names - like the Wye, Towy and Towe (which was probably Towy first, before the English spelt it with an E.) are also from uisce?

An Oxford uni link had a strange set of words that rhyme with wysg

Brwysg - drunk, lively, vigorous
Rhwysg - rush, (fast) course
Twysg - flow, stream, rush


Afon Tafwysg is the Welsh name for the river Thames. I’ve seen it claimed that the Ox in Oxford is from wysg rather than from the animal.

I don’t think wysg etc. is from Irish, but from a common root.


Sounds interesting isc going to asc and then to ax, then esc to ex why not osc going to ocs - wysg in old welsh is course - maybe “way”? , which is what rivers were in those days.

Also brisk in English has a questioned etymology. Brisk as in Bitter comes from Latin brusco and French derivations, but brisk as in lively comes from Scots bruisc of unknown origin.


Here’s one that I’ve been meaning to post: elusen ‘charity’ always looked to me a bit like the name of a minor character in an Arthurian romance, but finally stuck in my head when I figured out where it came from.

If you’re familiar with certain versions of the Christian liturgy, you may have come across a bit in the Eucharist/Mass which goes ‘Kyrie Eleison’. That’s actually Greek, kept in the original language for some reason, for ‘Lord, have mercy’, and the eleison bit is from an Ancient Greek verb eleéo/ελεέω ‘to have pity, be merciful’.

From that verb you get a noun, eleemosyne/ελεημοσύνη ‘pity, mercy, alms, charity’, which comes into Vulgar Latin as elemosyna/alemosyna etc. And from there we get Old English ælmesse, Modern ‘alms’, and Welsh elfusen, Modern Welsh elusen :slight_smile:

(Also Old French almosne, whence almosnier ‘almoner’ - someone who distributes alms. Apparently also Italian elemosina, Polish: jałmużna, etc.)


Oh, that’s genuinely lovely… :slight_smile:


and Dutch aalmoes - never knew that, thanks!


One I came across reading a Cyw book I got for my children for Christmas (Nadolig Llawen Cyw)

Addurno = Adornar (eg Yo Adorno) also English: to Adorn.


And today I found out that the Catalan word for Christmas also exists in Spanish (old-fashioned, according to Wiktionary), alongside Navidad - Nadal (as in Rafael) corresponds to Welsh Nadolig. (And so, of course, does the ‘Nat-’ of English ‘Nativity’.)


I thought that some our international members or etymologists might like to check this out - Something I posted to a social media language group, yesterday. Any thoughts? I drew my own knowledge from the Challenges; terms like Rhedeg bant (Run away), etc.

"I remember reading somewhere that phrasal verb constructions such as “run out”, “climb up” etc, are generally only a significant feature English and Celtic languages (as well as Scandanavian, some variants of Latin & some non-European ethnic languages). Also that English and other languages that use these constructions have at some time co-existed with a Celtic language. I think that this meant languages such as French, which coexists with Breton. It had also therefore been suggested that the constructions could have transferred from Celtic languages to English.

I would be really interested if anyone has any comments to make on this subject, please. There is always the chance that I could be well off the mark, if so, please put me out of my misery. Many thanks."


Hi John,
According to Kate Burridge (Introducing English Grammar), this is a distinctive feature of English syntax, and is a “rapidly growing” class of verbs. Comparing it with Dutch, English has more flexibility in placement of the particle, which can appear separate from the verb in sentences.
I don’t know if it is the influence of Welsh at work here, or if Welsh is actually being influenced by English. I am thinking of ‘find out’, now often ‘ffeindio allan’, but originally (and some say better) ‘darganfod’


Perhaps we discussed this elsewhere in the forum. I found this document, which suggests that English might have been influenced by Welsh.

However, I understand that some scholars dispute this and that the influence might have been in the opposite direction. Anyway, it might still be of interest to some of us, especially as it gives some Welsh language examples.

There is a summary at the bottom of the document, which gives a taste without wading all the way through.


I seem to remember that in relatively modern times, up to around the 1950s maybe, there were people called almoners who worked in or around hospitals in the UK. No longer giving alms, but giving help of some kind.

Have found this reference, and it looks like they survived into the days of the NHS:

I imagine the role did not survive the various modernisations and reorganisations that have taken place in the NHS over the years.

Edit: Here we go:

Hospital almoners[edit]

Main article: Medical social work § Britain and Ireland

The title almoner was also used for a hospital official who interviews prospective patients to qualify them as indigent. It was later applied to the officials who were responsible for patient welfare and after-care. This position evolved into the modern profession of medical social work.[4]


I happened to see an Italian parking sign today that said Aperto and then one on a pharmacy saying aperta.
I understand this means “open”, but it connected in my mind with old forms of Welsh place names, which are currently Aber, but historically often spelt Aper.

The root for the Welsh “Aber” is not supposed to be linked in anyway to italian Aperto or the Latin ancestor, but the meaning of the Welsh word in which two water courses rivers/seas etc converge to me isn’t that far removed from the Italian, if you think of it as the opening point of the river or sea? Maybe @RichardBuck might have a view?


I was reminded of aperture, which seems also to be related to open or an opening.

Anyway, back to Aber -
My own ameteurish searching over the last few minutes, seem to link it with ad per to carry.

This in turn seems to be linked to the alternatives: Inver and cymer (take in the Challenges).

I’m not sure about Adpar on the outskirts of Newcastle Emlyn, but there seem to be some things going on there related to tapping into the river on an engineering scale.


Yes you’re right with the accepted derivation and forms - the PIE route is down as bher meaning to carry etc leading to inbher or inver, aber etc, but something is intriguing me here about seeing if there’s any mileage in seeing if aper has any links that might line up - or if aper might derive on its own because of or in the possible knowledge of aber or the other way around?

I don’t know enough about Latin or Italian to know where aperto, aperta, aperitif etc come from, but I will dig around a bit.

In the book of Llandaff a lot of abers are written as aper but that might not reflect pronunciation.

edit: from what I can see the italian aperto comes from either Greek: αβέρτος (avértos, “open”) or from Venetian averto. I tend to hope that venetians were celtic and mentally link venetian with gwyn or wen for some reason and gwyn or gwen with white metal or silver traders, but thats stretching facts and reality quite far.