How old is English?

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



 




Etymology of Votadini

Votadini. Pronounced 'wotadini' and translated in Welsh the name became first Guotodin, later Gododdin. 'W' becomes 'gu'. Strange enough, the fact that the name Wotadini had to be adapted to the Welsh language logic, from one alleged member of the Celtic family to one other member, did not alarm the historical etymologists. There is a reason for that.

British etymologists proposed some time ago a hypothetical British Language, which is supposed to be a member of the Celtic language family.  Such a hypothetical language (there is no evidence) comes very handy because one can fill in oneself most of the hypothetical language features and reconstruct most of the supposed British Language words. This proposed idiom has apparently some strange characteristics such as being very different in some aspects from other Celtic languages. One of these is the idea that there are words in British Language which begin with 'w' and that they have to be translated to the other Celtic languages, where 'w' becomes 'gu'.
Is it a complete coincidence that the only attested transformations ['w' -> 'gu'] concern Germanic loanwords? An example is the name Wilhelm (William) that became Guillaume in French. Or war became 'guerre'.  In general, the insular Celtic languages (Welsh, Irish) react in the same way as the French language does. French is a former Celtic language.
There can be only one possible conclusion: the word Votadini is not Brythonic in origin but Germanic.

It has the same meaning as the name of the German top-god Wodan. The root is 'wode' (anger, fury, etc.). So 'Woda(n)den' = the angry ones, or, according to their southern victims, those furious bastards, with the Old English '-en' plural (like in children) which became '-in' in Latin.  They must have had a habit of looting their richer southern neighbours. The Welsh poem 'Y Gododdin' testifies of that.
The name could have be an exonym (name given by others = their southern victims). This leads to a new conclusion: the Votadini, living in southeast Scotland, spoke a Germanic language.

A alternative and attested name for the same people is 'Otadin', where the 'w' was dropped.  This is not so strange as it looks. Wodan is known as Odin in Norway. The English word 'word' becomes 'ord' in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish ( see: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ord). Scandinavians have a habit to drop the leading 'w'. Which leads to the deductive conclusion that 'Otadin' was the endonym, the local name of Wotadin(i) and not a scribal error.

To summarize: The Votadini had a Germanic name, spoke a Germanic language and the alternative name Otadini confirms our hypothesis that the region north of the Humber, the former Northern Maglemosian language zone, spoke a Scandi-proto-English language, a language much closer to the Scandinavian languages than the southeast proto-English language.  Note also that the name Votadini dates from the Roman times.

Compare with the classic explanation (http://marikavel.org/personnes/votadini/accueil.htm) :
In Ptolemy's forms, it is to be noted that d for l (d for l) and vice versa is not uncommon in his text, hence Otalini. To explain the omission of initial Ou- (V-), Williams suggested that a blank was left in the archetype for a capital to be decorated with penwork, and that this was never filled. This is possible, as the name begins a paragraph, but such an error does not appear to affect precisely comparable names. Ravenna's entry is as usual accepted as trustworthy by R&C, both as a form and as a fort of the Antonine Wall (in whose section it occurs).
Their etymology is : British *vo- (Old Irish fo- glossed 'sub', Old Welsh guo, go 'rather, somewhat') plus *litan- 'broad', hence 'rather broad place', with reference to a small plateau. This is acceptable up to a point, but it is very likely that (as first suggested by Holder) Volitanio is simply a rendering of Votadini, with metathesis of vowels of a kind paralleled elsewhere in the text.

DERIVATION. There can be no doubt that the proper form is Votadini, given the Welsh derivative Guotodin, later Gododdin. On the latter, important in the history of Welsh verse, see Jackson, The Gododdin (Edinburgh, 1969), especially 69-75, on the location of the Manau Guotodin of Nennius (62). Watson CPNS 28 says that in an eleventh-century Gaelic poem there appears Fotudain, which corresponds exactly to the Welsh forms. According to Watson the name can be compared with early Irish fothad 'support' ('Fothad, a mythical ancestor of an Irish people, perhaps derived from * Vo-tâdos' : O'Rahilly EIHM 10, note), with a suffix -in- as in many ethnic names. The sense is not entirely clear, but seems preferable to others suggested by Holder II. 887. See also I. Williams, Canu Aneirin (Cardiff, 1938), xviii.


Etymology of Edinburgh


Present-day Edinburgh was the location of Din Eidyn, a dun or hillfort associated with the kingdom of the Gododdin. Several medieval Welsh sources refer to Eidyn. (Wikipedia)

The version Eidyn was mentioned in Welsh first. But that is not sufficient to state that the region of Edinburgh was Welsh or Gaelic speaking. After all, the first mention of Londinium was in Latin and nobody will argue that it means that the locals spoke Latin.
In the Wikipedia article is also affirms that the Old English word burgh meant fort. That is probably not right. More about berg/burg/burgh here. It meant 'protected, fenced, walled, village'. The castle is younger than the city. The castle was build to control the city, as a sign of power, not to protect it.

More likely is that Eidyn is derived from Odan, from (V)Otadini (see previous chapter above). The pronunciation in Welsh is close to 'Aa-dunn' (the 'u' could be aphonic or a schwa, similar to the 'a' in Odan). We have to take in account that the sound represented by the first 'o' could not have been accurately noted. People who wrote the word could have done it with a Latin twist or a Latin/Welsh twist. Place-names have been constantly altered, twisted, adapted when it were foreign place-names. Dover became Douvre in French, London is Londres in French or Llundain in Welsh, Antwerpen even Amberes in Spanish. Odan > oaden > Aaden (=Eidyn) is possible. Then we have some choice in semantics: Odan/Odin can refer to the god or it is simply short for something like 'the [people of] Odens' (=Otadini) place'.
Possible is also that the original name was simply 'Burgh', for the natives needed not to remember themselves how they were called. The Welsh/Gaelic version Eidyn was then an exonym, which for some reason was taken over by this Burgh's citizens as 'edin-'.

Diverse etymologies


Sicambri: Latin version of sic + camber. Sic is 'sich' (German) or 'zich' (Dutch). The word does not exist in English and is translated as 'oneself'. It refers to people 'themselves'. Camber is a German plural for 'cambe' = tooth, what sticks out. Hills are meant here. Therefore, Sicambri are 'people from the hills' or 'high ones'.

Bructeri: probably 'burgh' + suffix '-ter'. One has 'brough' and 'burgh'.  The '-ter, -er' suffix is also found in e.g. walker. Bructeri  means 'burger' or 'burgh people', where burgh does NOT refer to a possibly fenced place on a imaginary hill but to a protected, possibly fenced, village.

Teutons (titans?): from Germanic 'deut-', compare: Deutsch, or 'Diet-' (Dutch) both meaning 'folk', people. The word 'Dutch' is derived from 'deut-'. Teutons are simply 'the people'.
What could be closely related is the word 'titans'. This word, meaning in ancient Greek 'the oldest gods', could have the same meaning. This could be an indication that 'deut-' initially referred to hunter-gatherers, the original people. The word persisted in proto-Germanic. After the arrival or agriculture, a new generation took over. This generation would then be represented by the classic Greek gods. The (new) gods defeated the (old) Titans like the first farmers chased the hunter-gatherers. It was the dawn of a new time.

Caedwalla: not a Celtic name! The last part is probably -walla, walda, meaning power, force, strength.  Derived is the verb walden, 'to rule'.  The word is found in all Germanic languages. Latin: valere. Names are: Walfried, Waldemar (Voldemor!), Waldrada, Walbert, Wealdwine, Walram, walraven, Walter, and more, e.g. Herald, where -wald comes last. However, the difference with -wahl, foreigner from the south, is sometimes difficult to make.  Against -walla = Welsh is the fact that the Welsh called themselves Cymry. So the name is probably not Welsh, remains: Germanic. A third possibility is wahl, OHG wale = choice.
The first part is the OE word (ge)gada, 'companion'; OS gigado, 'id'; DU gade, 'partner, wife'. The verb in MDU gaden, 'to hear'; MNG gaden, 'to fit, unite'; OHG bigaton, 'to fit, come together'; OFR gadia, 'to unite'. English: to gather. This could be a substrate word. I plead for Caed-walla = who gathers power, or, who has the power to gather [men] - as the most likely etymology. 

Caedmon:

(WIKI) Modern discovery: Although Bede specifically notes that English was Cædmon's "own" language, the poet's name is of Celtic origin: from Proto-Welsh *Cadṽan (from Brythonic *Catumandos).[6] Several scholars have suggested that Cædmon himself may have been bilingual on the basis of this etymology, <<
Speaking about a modern discovery! How easily bilingual people were in the distant past! This solves a lot of problems apparently. Forget Bede's futile specification: Caedmon was Brythonic speaking! Forget the fact that neither Bede nor Caedmon were known as Welshmen.
This Caed- is the same as in Caedwalla. Caed= comrade, companion; mon = short for -monde, -munde = tutor, protector, possibly related to 'mond, mund' = mouth > he who speaks in name of. Compare: Edmund. Caedmon = protecting/protected [by the gods?] companion.
Not Celtic at all. Very English.

Cartimandua, queen of the Brigantes (1st century.) where the first part is probable 'care, cared' + munda = protector [+ 'wa,wo' = woman]. Cartimandua = caring protector.

Boudicca: is the subject of a separate paper!