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Re: [LANGDEV] Zorro?
At 22:06 1/7/98, Jeff Smith wrote:
>At 19:21 98-07-01 +0100, Raymond A. Brown wrote:
>>The change [w] > [gw] is also a Brittonic feature, e.g. Latin 'uener-' >
>>'Gwener' (Venus, Friday) in Welsh;
> Very, very sorrily, I know few things about Welsh. Which does not
>don't want to learn it, all the contrary. What can be said about the origin
>of this change in Welsh? I am curious.
It's an internal development within Brittonic Celtic & one of the features
that distinguishes the Brittonic languages from their 'sister' Goidelic
Celtic languages where initial [w] has become [f].
>>There seems to have remained a strong Celtic influence in the Gallo-Romance
>>of the north
> Indeed, the gaulish substrate is a classic element in the history
>French language. But many are dubious about its strength, as it seems the
>not so numerous population of the Celts was rapidly and easily "latinized"
>(cities (populated areas) first, rural areas last, obviously).
>Vercingetorix lost in 57 B.C; it can be said that in 400 A.C there were
>already no more of the gaulish language spoken on the gallo-roman
>territory. And this is still very early in the history of French itself.
Yeah - but north Gaul is right by Britain & the Celtic populations were
similar (e.g. there was a branch of the Parisii, who gave their name to
Paris, living in the eastern part of what is now Yorkshire, England).
Although Vulgar Latin undoubtedly became the language of urban populations
in Britannia, it never ousted the Celtic language as it did in Gaul, since
when the Saxons & others overran the eastern parts of Britain the only
language which survived was the old Brittonic language, from which derive
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.
>>(e.g. the change of Latin [e:] to [oi] in Old French is
>>remarkably similar to the change of [e:] to [ui] in Welsh,
> Why would [e:] > [oi] in French be not a simple change, just
>parallel to the one that happened in Welsh, instead of a celtic influence?
>Long vowels do commonly turn into diphthongs (and with our modern
>equipments, we can indeed see that longer vowels are rarely "uniform").
>Besides, [e:] diphthonged first into [ei], before changing to [oi].
But surely the change [e:] --> [ei] --> [oi] is almost certainly the same
route as the Welsh change. Of course they could be independent
developments; but the are in similar areas of the world. What I suspect is
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.
>>"church"; the fronting of Latin [u] to [y] is also paralleled in Brittonic.
> Well, yes, gaulish substrate is again the most common explanation for
>this. I personally believe this could have been the "catalyst" of a certain
>physiologic determinism for such a change: the asymetry in the organs of
>speech makes it harder to keep many degrees of aperture within back vowels.
Yes - the change of [u] --> [y] is attested in other places at other times,
e.g. ancient Ionian Greek. But again the fact that a similar change
occurred in both north Gaulish Latin & in (southern) British Celtic make
one wonder if this fronting was not already occuring in dialects of Latin &
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
>> LATIN CELTIC OLD FRENCH
>>articulu(m) ordiga orteil
> I would like to know where would you think the celtic word has to do
>anything in articulum > orteil, if I did understand correctly, and if that
>this is what you mean.
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.
Indeed, I now suspect my source material which quoted Celtic *crit- as
'crossing' with Vulgar Latin *trembre. The Celtic is surely *crit-, cf.
Welsh: crynu, Breton: krena 'to quake, shiver'.
*crin- + *trember --> criembre, craindre
seems more credible to me and better explains the alternative 'craindre'
>>Yes, except Latin [gw] is rather restricted & occurs only after a nasal
> Of course, but the sound was still there - I just thought it might
>have to do something...
I'm sure it could well do. All I'm suggesting is that the Celtic gw-
might've given it a boost, so to speak.
>>I think surviving Celtic habits might have something to do with it also.
> We are all looking for the same things, but to each his own path, is it
>not? I am of those who hesitate at explanations based on the celtic
I certainly share your skepticism of substrate explanations. They seem to
occur most readily when the substrate language is poorly known and often
take the circuitous form:
(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!
But in this case Celtic is a little better known and, in any case, I'm not
suggesting (and I make only suggestions here) that the _continuing_ use of
neighboring Brittonic Celtic may have helped preserve certain Celtic traits
of northern GalloRomance.
>>>contradictory (dictionaries in particular). Perhaps we will never know -
>>You're probably right - unless someone dicovers time travel.
> Let's join some physicians' mailing list, and ask away!
>>Oops - I forgot 'gaine' < 'guaine'. There is no similar Germanic word I can
> Me either - my dictonaries tell of a germanic influence on "vagina".
So what, we wonder, is the German word the dictionaries have in mind?
>I still cannot understand, because germanic [w]- cannot influence latin
>[w]-, which is similar enough, is it not? Which brings back the idea that
>[v]- was there already, and that, as we seem to conclude, all [gw]'s are of
Ah, now there's where I'm suggesting something different. I'm suggesting
that the origin this time is Celtic.
>(and we'd just ignore the source of "gaine", which sounds
>fairly possible), .i.e. foreign, and late. Or... the celtic substrate,
>again? Surely not, as this is not just a minor feature at all.
>> But interestingly the Welsh for "sheath" [yes, that's what
>>'uagina' means in Latin]
> "Vagina" is also the origin of "vanilla", through Spanish. You know the
>meaning of Fr. "gaine", right?
Bien sūr! It means much the same as Welsh 'gwain', and 'gainer' means much
the same as 'gweinio'.
The bit between square brackets was not aimed at you. It's just bad habit
I've got into from experience on certain lists which seem to be dominated
by monoglot anglophones. I'd forgotten that this was the more
knowledgeable LANGDEV list. [Sorry, Langdevites!]
On some lists I could assume that the majority would not know 'gaine', and
that seeing it given as derived from Latin 'vagina' would assume a quite
I must remember this mail is on Langdev, and such an assumption is, I
believe, erroneous here. Sorry!
But I am suggesting, since warfare & swords were common equipment, uagina
was borrowed from Latin at a very early date, long before Caesar's conquest
- Gauls had met Romans quite often before then & swords were often involved
- and that it had become completely assimilated into the Celtic of Gaul &
Britain well before the spread of Vulgar Latin into Gaul.
Anyway, the existence of Welsh 'gwain' & Old French 'guaine' with the same
meanings strikes me another interesting co-incidence.
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.