Chronology of the breakup of Common Romance [long]

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Fri Aug 20 18:40:14 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/19/99 11:43:44 PM, BMScott at wrote:

<<On the contrary, <madr> (<madhr>) 'man' is the nom. sing. (gen. sing.
<manns>, nom. pl. <menn>); /nn/ regularly became /D/ (edh) before /r/.
It has nothing to do with ON <madra> (<madhra>) 'madder', which is found
mostly in place-names (e.g., <Mödrudalr> (<Mo"dhrudalr>) 'Madder-dale').>>

I didn't say that 'madhr' had anything to do with 'madhra'.  In fact I think
I said it didn't.

I was referrring to madhr- (I have ON as <ma(dh)ra> - sometimes <madyr> in
OE) as it might have been used in 'bla'madr".

Here's where this came from, maybe a year ago on the ONN list:
<<It's now has come to be accepted that <N at frama/dr> in Arrow-Odds Tale does
not mean "Bark-man" at all.  in this case <ma/dr> this comes from the cloth
dye that in English they call madder....  we see the word <N at fra-ma/dra> also
in the lists of cargo shipsIn the story Oddr is probably pretending to be a
bark boiler who lives in the forest and makes dyes.  Him putting on the bark
was added.  In latter redactions it was to explain why he was a bark-man
because the copier only thought it should mean "Bark-man"...>>

This is from a thread that included a discussion of the Icelandic <<Móraudur
(mooraudhr, moradhr)...>> as meaning the different colors I mentioned and
also put on this list back then.  (It was I think originally about barkskin
meaning old age in the Eddas. :) )  And I was sure it included something on
'bla'madr' or 'bloamadr' but for the life of me I can't find it on the disks.
 Well, I can't be sure that any of this is right or wrong anyway.  The point
was that <madhr-> in the quote above could also mean <colored> or <covered>.
It strikes me that if clothes can be dyed or colored <madhra> so can bodies -
in the case of woad-covered blue warriors who act madly, we have some serious
historical precedent in the region.

But I SURE DO hope none of this detracts from the main point I was making -
which was that the old color terminology was 'semantically' unstable.

You wrote:
<<ME <blake> represents both OE <blaec> 'black, dark-colored, dark' and OE
<bla:c> 'pale, white (as with foam), bleak; bright, shining'.>>

Yes.  Without accompanying derivations - as in real life - one word for what
we might think of as two diametrically opposed 'colors.'  And the OED says
that even in OE <blaec> is also found in the form <bla:c> and that only
context tells them apart.  Whole generations for whom things could not be a
matter of 'black' or 'white!'

Steve Long

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