Horthmen as 'mGall'

X99Lynx at aol.com X99Lynx at aol.com
Sun Aug 29 09:23:55 UTC 1999

In a message dated 8/26/99 6:10:22 PM, you wrote:

<<I'd be delighted to hear from someone who actually knows OIr usage
first-hand, but I imagine that a <Gall> 'Gaul' was originally simply
someone from Gallia - a geographical term certainly known to the early
Irish >>

Please look back to my message dated 8/23/99 9:29:48 PM:
<< If those Northmen were from Normandy they would have been from the ON
'Valland' and in either case would have been recognized by clerics as being
from 'Gallia'.>>

You wrote:
<<...but I imagine that a <Gall> 'Gaul' was originally simply someone from

That makes perfect sense.  But, once again, I think there's a slight problem
in that there seems to be no more "Gallicae" left in "Gallia" by the time Old
Ir appears in print.  And there hadn't been for some time.  I'm bothered by

<<(as when <saerchland Franc> 'noble race of Franks' is glossed 'tribus
Gallie'). >>

Now to say that 'Frank' was lierally translated as 'Gallie' in Med Latin is
okay with me.  Because from the 9th C.  I believe 'Frank' is also being
translated in OHG as 'uualha" and that versions of that word have already
been appearing across the Channel for centuries before that.  "mGall" is
probably originally from the Latin.  But I guess I'm looking for the source
of the "gloss" that turned a Gall = Gaul into a Gall = Northman.

<<but I see nothing here to connect <galc> safely with OE.  Moreover, it
seems to be Sc.Gael. <fucadair> 'fuller', not <galcadair> 'do.', that produced
Sc.Gael. bynames (in record at least from the 14th c.); this suggests
that <galc> may have been a late-comer.>>

Maybe.  Maybe not.  You no doubt noticed that 'fuller" is given a separate
path in OED and had a long existence with the initial /f/ in English.  The
Oxford Dict of Eng. Etym says "walk" is probably from the OE "wealcere."  In
either case, "fulling" (unlike "fuller") is an old idea - presumably
predating the process of making fulling or the status of being a "fuller" -
and it is honestly hard for me to see why Gaelic would have waited until the
16th Century to adopt a word for such an old and basic idea when in the 16th

- the more modern English "full-" was already available as was the Middle
Gaelic "fu:cadh" (fulling) and even the Irish 'u:caire' (fuller).
- the word was already nearly obsolete in English and was by then quite in
collision with the other "walk" in English.
-  the apparent sound laws still did not favor 'walk' to 'galc' in the 16th C.

So if McBain is right about "galc = thicken cloth, fulling; from the English
walk, waulk", then it may have entered Gaelic early indeed.

Now I did also say that this could have happened in a more roundabout way.
My overall point was that in this murky time we do not really know how words
bounced around and "who gave what to whom when."

If I remember that is why I suggested that the expected /w/ to  /f/or/u/
might not apply.

Now if you go back to the OED, you'll see a couple of things.  One, you'll
see that the German form of 'walk' is given as the origin of the It
"gualcare"  and OFr *gaucher.   That might be an explanation of how the word
had already converted to the initial /g/ before it entered Gaelic.  I
actually gave you other instances of Germanic /w/'s that did yield /f/ or /u/
for the same reason.  Not to challenge that pattern as untrue.

My thought was that 'walh' to 'Gall' could have followed the same path, so
that 'Gall' entered Gaelic (and maybe Irish) more than once with different

You wrote:
<<I still see no reason introduce <> to explain it.>>

My reasons are not primarily linguistic but historical.  There's something
that needs to make better sense in terms of meanings and I'm trying to find
the right paths.  (Although the tone of these exchanges have been a bit
adversarial, please believe I've learned a lot from them and I appreciate
what you are saying very much.  Perhaps I've even given you something to
think about.)

You spoke of expecting /f/ or /u/ from the Germanic /w/.  Here's an indirect
path to look at that comes not from the Germanic, but the Gaulish (what
little there is of it is often very close to the Latin in the pattern of
appearance of the initial /v/):  (This is all from McBain's.)

alder tree, Irish fearn, fearnóg, Early Irish fern, fernog, Welsh gwern,
Cornish gwernen, GAULISH verno-, French verne, *verno-

wood, so Irish, Old Irish fid, Welsh guid, gwydd, gwydden (sing.),
Cornish guiden, Breton gwezenn, tree, gwez, trees, GAULISH vidu- ...;
Anglo-Saxon wudu, Old High German witu.

white, Irish fionn, Old Irish find, Welsh gwyn, Cornish guyn, Breton
gwenn, GAULISH vindo-,...

worthy, Irish fiú, Old Irish fiú, Welsh gwiw, Cornish guiu, Old Breton
uuiu, GAULISH vesu-

a chief, prince, Irish flaith, Old Irish flaith, chief, dominion,
flaithem(an), chief (*vlatimon-), Welsh gwlad, region, Middle Welsh
gulatic, rex, Cornish gulat, patria, Breton gloat, realm, GAULISH vlatos
; Latin valere,... Gothic valdan, German walten, rule,

under, Irish, Old Irish fo, Welsh go-, Old Welsh guo-, Cornish go-,
Cornish, Bret. gou-, GAULISH vo-

Note that the path in all these seems to be (in whatever direction) Goidelic
/f/, Brythonic /gw/ or /g/, Gaulish /v/.

I'm curious.  What would be your reaction to this pattern as an explanation
of 'Gall' or 'Gaul' (gwal or kwal?) being transferred as let's say a
"learned" word from Brythonic to Goidelic?  Thanks for any reaction you have.

Steve Long

PS - The reason I use quotes and not brackets is because my e-mail seems to
make things in brackets disappear for no reason I can figure out.

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