Session 100: Ystafell 4
Celtic linguistics, with continental relevance

Chair: Holly Kennard

Expression du neutre et syntaxe des mutations en breton moyen et moderne

Hervé Le Bihan
Université Rennes 2

Dans ce papier nous proposons d'examiner ce qui semble être des traces de l'ancien neutre en breton (disparu très tôt en tant que tel dans les langues brittoniques, Fleuriot (1964), Lewis & Pedersen (1961), etc). Ces traces que nous examinerons sont révélées par une syntaxe des mutations qui peut être caractérisée par une instabilité apparente. Nous examinerons également ce qui semble être une autre expression du neutre : l'utilisation de certaines prépositions au S3f dans certaines expressions (que d'aucuns nomment "meteorological"), utilisation qui a un perallèle en gallois.

Pour ce faire nous pre,drons appui sur le corpus moyen-breton (XVIe siècle), ainsi que sur le corpus du breton moderne, tant écrit qu'oral.

The etymology of Welsh pridd and the language of the earliest Frisians

Peter Schrijver
Universiteit Utrecht

While it is clear that Welsh pridd 'clay, soil' is cognate with Breton pri, Cornish pry, Irish cré and probably also with Latin creta, the historical phonology underlying its reconstruction is problematic. I argue that the reconstruction that presents least problems is (pre-Proto-Celtic)*kwre:s-j-et-.

In Schrijver (2017) I presented material that is relevant to determining the linguistic situation in the north of the Netherlands in the Roman period, where, among others, a tribe called the Frisii was located. There is some evidence in favour of the hypothesis that the medieval Frisian language, which is of Germanic stock, arose when a population that spoke a Celtic language switched to speaking Germanic. That evidence is mainly based on changes in the vowel system which occurred at the earliest stages of the (Germanic) Frisian language.

That hypothesis will be developed further along two routes:

(1) The Celtic stem *pri:s-jo- (< *kwre:s-jo-) may well underlie the name of the Frisians, which hitherto lacks a presuasive etymology; the name makes sense as a reference to the 'terp' builders that inhabited the coastal areas along the Waddenzee from the Iron Age onwards.

(2) The population history of the Low Countries between the third and sixth centuries AD suggests that the Celtic substratum that potentially underlies (Germanic) Frisian was located in the Central Dutch river area rather than in the north of the country.

Woods, wildlands and fences: the development of borderland terms in Celtic, Baltic and Slavic languages

Oleg Zotov
Moscow State University

The connection between terms for woods and bordering territories are well attested among various Indo-European languages. Here we can see OIr. fid, OW gwýdd, OHG witu, Lith. mdis, OPrus. median, all meaning ‘tree’, and Russ. mežá ‘border between fields’, meždu ‘between’; Lith. viduryjè ‘in medio’ and vidùs ‘internal, central’, OIr. mide (meaning both ‘centre’ and a certain territory in the centrаl part of Ireland) linked through the semantic development of the term from that meaning ‘wildland’ towards a ‘bordering, medial territory’. In the case of Celtic, it can be connected, from one side, through PIE *med-tu, *medhios, from which PCelt. *medo- ‘measure’; or PCelt. *widu- ‘wood’, comp. Lat. dīṷido (though the latter is disputed). From the other side, it can be traced back even to *wēdu- ‘wild’, comp. OIr fíad ‘(uncultivated) land’, MW gwydd ‘wild’ etc. Though etymological connection between the aforesaid roots and terms is a matter of discussion, different languages and traditions clearly show us the same development of meanings in the same direction, namely, from ‘wild, forested land’ to borderland, enclosure (and what it is made of, mainly wood) and than to enclosed settlement itself. Some examples are OIr. gort ‘field, territory’, Wels. garth, Lat. hortus, Eng. fort, TochB warto- ‘forest’ (!); MIr. farr ‘post’ (part of a fence?) and Fr. varenne ‘wilderness’ (possibly from *warro-); also OIs. mǫrk, meaning both ‘border’ and ‘wood’, etc. The proposed paper runs through different terms connected with wildlands, borders and enclosures in the specified language groups, concentrating mainly on Celtic languages, and explores their possible connections by both semantic links and etymology.