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Re: [LANGDEV] Zorro?
At 21:01 2/7/98, Jeff Smith wrote:
>At 20:22 98-07-02 +0100, Raymond A. Brown wrote:
>>modern Breton & Welsh, & 'RomanoBritish' dies. I.e. the Celtic language
>>must've continued to be widely used in Britain and trade & other contacts
>>between Britain & north Gaul could well have kept Celtic habits alive in
>>this area longer than would otherwise have been the case.
> Yes, this is another interesting thought, which we can legitimately
>believe. But some complications: we must not forget that many northern and
>eastern dialects did actually never had [gw]-, and kept the [w]- (which is
>preserved in Belgium names of places, for instance, like Wallon (correct
>english word?). And this is where germanic invasions, and consequently
>influences, were the strongest...
....and eastern certainly is where any Brittonic influence would be weakest
(or non existent).
>>that the diphthongization of [e:] --> [ei] (rather like souther Brit.
>>English as opposed to northern dialects, Scots & Welsh English where [e:]
>>is still preserved) was already a feature of colloquial, 'uneducated'
>>northern Gaulish & British pronunciation of Latin in the Roman period.
> Well, whatever really happened will have to do with colloquial
>obviously. I'd be interested to know however if I am not wrong thinking
>that roman colons, soliders (who were often not so roman)
....depends what you mean by Roman ;-)
The Roman habit of granting citizenship to leading members of local
communities & of conferring full citizenship on the children of freed
slaves meant that Romans became a pretty mixed bunch.
Certainly the retired soldiers who were settled with a grant of land in
different parts of the empire - the 'coloni' you refer to - were
instrumental in spreading Vulgar Latin. Especially as they often took
native wives (or rather legalized pre-existing relations after retirement,
since legionaries were not allowed to marry) the only common language in
these communities would be some form of Latin. Trade also was a great
impetus to the spread of Latin; if native Gauls wanted to make a quick buck
from soldiers stationed in the area, a knowledge of Latin gave a distinct
edge over rivals without it.
>and all others
>who settled in roman Gaul ended up as forming a greater population than the
>native celtic populations.
> Oh, and I guess that "uneducated" can be well applied to anybody,
>years of of whomever invasions (as there weren't only germanic people)
>after 400AC were rather such (at least in the north), hence the cultural
>and artistic renewal under Charlemagne; there are reports of funny stories
>where priests themselves weren't understanding a single word of the Latin
>they had to use in masses, and just trying to have it all by memory they
>ended up saying funnily incoherent things. I have some examples somewhere
>in my all-too messy notes. I might have a look at them again, for fun.
Yep - must've happen. Tho I suspect some of the stories spread around were
>>Brittonic in the (late) Roman period. Of course, one cannot be certain.
>>Again the parallel changes could be co-incidental. But there comes a point
>>at which one asks how many co-incidences do you need before postulating
> Well, co-incidences in themselves are not "found", but "made", if I may
>say so. And they make the matters quite delicate, sorrily.
It depends, it seems to me, on the actual number. If they are so many,
e.g. the 'co-incidences' between Latin, Classical Greek and Sanskrit, that
only the obstinate will refuse to acknowledge them, then we do have
connexions to account for. If they are few, e.g. the "co-incidence" of
modern Greek 'mati' (eye) and Malay 'mata', then only a raving idiot would
seriously postulate a connexion. Between these two extremes, we have
more troublesome areas; we have to decide towards which end, so to speak,
of this spectrum our noted 'co-incidences' tend.
>But first we
>must be sure whether we have real co-incidences here, for perhaps they are
>not at all. We would need to know when did the fronting occur in
>Gallo-roman, and when did it occur in british Celtic. And also if the
>contacts between the two cultures were important enough.
Indeed. Contacts were surely commonplace until the Germanic invasions as
the empire crumbled in the 4th to 6th centuries. The more telling thing
would be when and where the fronting began in both cultures; and that,
because of the conservatism of orthography, may be impossible to tell.
>>Well, the initial o- of the French needs explaining. I had assumed from my
>>source that *ordiga had the correct sort of "toey" meaning. Efforts to
>>trace it today have not proved successful. But I'll look again.
> Well, at the end of the 12th century it was "arteil" already. And,
[snipped - but duly noted]...
>personally heard this phenomenon here around Quebec City (its very
>origin!), while everybody last year at university were telling me about it!
>Well... I don't go out a lot anyway. :-)
OK - I'll not press that one any more.
>>*crin- + *trember --> criembre, craindre
>>seems more credible to me and better explains the alternative 'craindre'
> Oh, indeed, my question was about "orteil" only. I may doubt about
>influences, but I do not deny them utterly. Modern French has *obviously*
>small (well, very small...) traces of it. Around 100 words (I think I am
>generous), and the vicesimal numbers (quarante, quatre-vingt, etc). For the
>rest, we plunge into eternal debates!
>>(a) Professor Abel shows that Zedish 'hl', where its neighbors have /s/ or
>>/S/ is due to the influence of the Wyvian substrate as Dr Baker lists this
>>sound among the known features of Wyvian.
>>(b) Dr Baker is found to give a list of Exian features which have been
>>discovered through the painstaking scholarship of Dr Charlie.
>>(c) Dr Charlie's work turns out to be an attempt to reconstruct Wyian from
>>evidence found in Zedish & related sources. Zedish has a perculiar sound
>>'hl' which it uses where related languages have a sibilant; this is
>>obviously a substrate effect: therefore Wyvian must have had this sound!
> Hehehe! This is funny! I especially like the word "Wyvian", and
>borrow it for one of my conlang. Do you mind? :)
> Well, what I meant is that [gw] seems to have happened on
>germanic languages exclusively, i.e Frankish and such. Hence my question
>about "vulpiculus". Germanic invasions began in the 5th century. Clovis (is
>this his name in English??) died in 511.
Clovis it is. (Tho if I understand correctly, it is an early form of the
same name that turns up in later times as 'Louis').
But Germanic influences began much earlier. There was considerable trade
in the frontier regions and Romans had been recruiting Germans as
auxiliaries for centuries before. And the exchange went both ways; the
Germans imported, e.g. 'caupo' & 'uinum' and exported 'sapo'; it's thought
that the use of 'have' + perfect passive participle to express the perfect
tenses of transitive verbs was exported from Vulgar Latin in Germanic, and
probably Germanic influence led to the development of definite & indefinite
articles in Vulgar Latin.
> Those events are 400-500 years
>after the roman conquest of the gaulic territory, which we date with the
>victory of the Romans against Vercingetorix in 57B.C. This is too late in
>my opinion for thinking about a celtic substrate over germanic borrowings.
Not over, but besides - and it depends how long Celtic continued to be
known. Don't forget that on the British side of the Chanel, it was
BritoRomance that died out under the onslaught of Germanic invaders; the
Celtic language - admittedly quite a bit Romanized - survived. The point
is that Latin never successfully ousted Celtic in Britain & we cannot tell
how much Celtic still remained in northern Gaul until the Franks &c.
I suspect the linguistic cross currents in frontier areas like north Gaul
were quite a complex of Latin, Celtic & Germanic streams.
> Well, actually I asked about the French meaning because of the link
>between "vagina" and "vanilla", Fr. "vanille".
I'll look again.
>For it did also give "vagin" in the end.
A learned borrowing I assume.
>We have the verb "dégainer", which bascially means "to
>unsheath/draw a weapon".
Like Welsh 'dadweinio' ;-)
>But "gaine" itself is not used to mean sheath now,
>and it is why I asked if this is what you meant (actually, I never realized
>the connection until now!). I asked because the modern Fr. meaning is the
>link between "vanille" and "vagin", something that a friend, a teacher in
>college and I never expected to find!
Well, let's see. French 'vanille', like English 'vanilla' is derived from
Spanish 'vainilla'. The latter is a diminutive of 'vaina'.
'vaina' means, as we would expect, 'sheath, scabbard; case or covering (for
tool); husk, pod, shell (of a plant)'. Obviously 'vainilla' is from the
I find that in Latin American use it has various colloquial meanings, e.g.
'a nuisance, something troublesome'; 'a fluke, piece of luck'; 'a swindle',
and I believe in Cuban Spanish it's used to mean "sexual intercourse" (tho
not in polite speech!).
The meaning 'covering (for a tool)' is suggestive; in colloquial English
'tool' is often used to mean "penis"; and, indeed, the word 'sheath' is
sometimes used to mean a condom. So it'd not surprise me to find that the
Spanish 'vaina' and/or Fr. 'gaine' (even Welsh 'gwain') was used this
meaning in colloquial speech.
I've checked their ancestor, the Latin 'ua:gi:na'; its principal meaning
is, of course, 'sheath', 'scabbard'; but it was also used in the Classical
period for 'shell' or 'husk' of plants (just like the Spanish word still
is), and sometimes just as a general word for 'a covering'.
Significantly, I think, the only attested use of the word to mean 'vagina'
occurs in the writing of the comic playwright Plautus; clearly this use was
a colloquial vulgarism in the Latin of 2nd cent BC. And, judging by its
survivals in Romance & Brittonic, this colloquial meaning did not survive
into the spoken Latin of the late empire (doubtless plenty of other slang
terms had replaced it meantime).
Well, I guess we've covered most meanings of 'ua:gi:na' ~ 'gwain' ~
'g(u)aine' ~ 'vaina' and suggested plenty enough connexions for any
>>But, I stress, I'm intending only to suggest another possibility for the
>>[gw] where [v] is expected in certain Old French words. It would take a
>>lot of research, for which I have neither the time nor the resources, to
>>take this further.
> Oh, yes, definetely. But our conversation is no less interesting. As a
>future "romanist", I might myself try further researches, if not before
>just for my own interest.
I'd be interested to know of any results if you do so.
Happy researching & langdeving!