Skip to main content

Welsh


The word Welsh can refer to the Celtic language of Wales, called Cymric in that language, or it can be an adjective referring to  items related to “Wales or its people, language or culture” (AHD s.v. Welsh.
Etymologically, the word Welsh entered Modern English via the Middle English Walische, derived from Old English Wælisc, from Old English Wealh, “foreigner.” The plural form of wealh, wealas, gave us the Modern English word Wales.

There’s a certain irony that the Germanic-speaking invaders refer to the previous inhabitants of Britain, the Celtic speaking ancestors of modern Welsh, as “foreigners,” but to the English, the people “over there,” across the border in Wales, were “foreign,” if not “enemies,” and in some contexts, the word Wælisc does in fact seem to be a synonym for “enemies.”
Image courtesy Publicdomainpictures.net

As the note in the AHD entry for Wales mentions, Welsh derives from the I.E. root walh-, as does the OE word for walnut; walhhnutu. This word, is a surviving in a single c. 1050 ms. is a compound of wal + nut and refers to the nut of the common walnut tree Juglans regia Juglans regis - Plant Finder . Old English Walhhnutu became Middle English walnotte and Modern English walnut. At the literal level, wal + nut means “foreign nut,” an apropos name for a tree brought to Britain by the Romans, and native to Eastern Europe and Asian minor.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Red Letter Day

"It's a great piece of luck, ma'am," said Mrs Belfield, "that you should happen to come here, of a holiday! If my son had not been at home, I should have been ready to cry for a week: and you might come any day the year through but a Sunday, and not meet with him any more than if he had never a home to come to."
"If Mr Belfield's home-visits are so periodical," said Cecilia, "it must be rather less, than more, difficult to meet with him."
"Why you know, ma'am," answered Mrs Belfield, "to-day is a red-letter day, so that's the reason of it."
"A red-letter day?"
"Good lack, madam, why have not you heard that my son is turned book- keeper?"
Fanny Burney. Cecilia: Or, Memoirs of an Heiress. "Red-letter day" is one of those expressions we use quite frequently without really thinking about its ancestry. Everyone knows that a "red letter day" is one that stands out as imp…

Soul Cake and Souling

Soul, soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him what made us all!
Soul cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, anything good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, one for Paul, and three for Him who made us all.All Souls' Day is one of the feast days of the Roman Catholic Church. All Souls is observed on November 2. Special prayers are offered for the deceased souls in Purgatory, believed to be waiting. All Souls follows All Saints Day on November 1, the day on which the saints in heaven are commemorated under the assumption that the souls languishing in purgatory should also be remembered and prayed for. All Souls' was established initially by Abbot Odilo of Cluny (d. 1049). All Souls' was widely celebrated by the 13th century. All Souls' is also known as Soulmas Day or Saumas.Prior to the Protestant Reformation, it was common in England and the British I…

Humor

humor noun
The quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness: could not see the humor of the situation.That which is intended to induce laughter or amusement: a writer skilled at crafting humor.The ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is amusing, comical, incongruous, or absurd. See Synonyms at wit1.One of the four fluids of the body, blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile, whose relative proportions were thought in ancient and medieval physiology to determine a person's disposition and general health.That's not the complete definition from the American Heritage Dictionary, but it's enough for now. Modern English humor derives from Middle English, where humor largely referred to a bodily fluid; Middle English borrowed Old French umor, which is largely a borrowing from from Latin ūmor, hūmor, meaning "fluid." In earlier eras, our bodies were thought to be affected by the balance of four humors or fluids; blood, bile, phlegm and choler. These f…