yonder - English or Irish?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jun 18 15:40:05 UTC 2008

At 9:29 AM -0600 6/18/08, Josh Macfelder wrote:
>Hello everyone!
>I don't know if this has already been discussed, but here's the story:
>I really don't know how many people actually still use the word "yonder"
>with the meaning of "there, over there" (also adjective) all over the US,
>but coming from the part of Texas where this word is quite common, I'm one
>of those who do. Anyway, I was listening to an Irish music CD this morning,
>and it's got this song called "Siul a riun," an Irish ballad. In this song,
>the girl sings, "I wish I were on _yonder_ hill." This song might refer to
>the Napoleonic wars in Europe, so I would place it in the early 19th century
>(I don't know of any other wars between Great Britain and France that took
>place in Europe, thus the placing, though I might be wrong). My Merriam
>Webster's says the adjective "yonder" dates back to the 14th century, but it
>says zippo about the origin.
>So the question is, is this word an anglicism or a gaelicism?
>Thanks for your thoughts.
Based on the OED, which gives cognates from other Germanic languages
(Old Saxon, Middle Low German, Dutch, W. Frisian, Gothic), "yonder"
is derived from "yon", which--in addition to Germanic forms--is
related to morphs in Sanskrit, Lithuanian, and Old Slavic.  I don't
see any Celtic.


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