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Re: Some suggestions
At 5:22 pm +1300 20/1/99, Andrew Smith wrote:
>Which reminds me of another point I was meaning to raise: should Brithenig
>have alternative month names? I'm not advocating an adoption of the
>Kernu month names, although Kemrese lawyers probably learn the legal names
>universally, but the Roman calendar has not survived intact into
>modern Welsh with some of the names of the later months replaced with the
>events of the season
Surely it's the other way round! Welsh is a _Celtic_ language, not a
neo-Latin language as Brithenig is. One thing we can be certain about is
that the Celts had a calendar with months well before the Romans took over.
And we can certainly discount such reconstructions as the "Gravesian"
I'd hazard a guess that the Celts were much as the ancient Greeks were
centuries earlier, i.e. a solilunar calendar with different regions,
"tribes" or whatever, having their own month names, their own different
starts to the year (usually round about one of the equinoxes or solstices
but actually at the new moon), their own system for incalating the 13th
every two or three years to keep the calendar in sync. Certainly none of
Kernu month names have any resemblance to any of the non-Latin Welsh ones.
When the Roman Calendar was officially introduced, I'd guess the rural
populations would still use their old Celtic names and that it took a while
for any Latin names to become widespread outside of official circles. The
surprising thing to me is that the Britons seem to adopted as many as six
of the Roman names.
The days of the week, of course, are a different matter. The modern Welsh
names are all descended from Latin since it under the Romans that the seven
day week was introduced.
I'd certainly be cautious before going along this road myself. None of the
other Romance langs have given up the Latin-based forms. OK - the Celtic
influence is strong in Brithenig, would the Latin speaking RomanoBrits have
dropped the Latin names? The most obvious candidates are September to
December where the numeric prefix no longer corresponded to the month's
actual position. Significantly, none these months' names survived into
Welsh as we have:
Medi (Sep.), Hydref (Oct.), Tachwedd (Nov.), Rhagfyr (Dec.).
These seem to me the most likely to have gone and Celtic names might have
replaced them. I know no actual evidence that the Gaulish names were ever
used in Briton - or indeed that all Gallic Celts used the same names. The
only safe evidence it seems to me is what the modern Brittonic languages
WELSH CORNISH BRETON
Sep. Medi Gwyngala gwengolo
Oct. Hydref Hedra here
Nov. Tachwedd mys-Du du (miz du)
Dec. Rhagfyr Kevardhu kerzu
Which rather supports the likelihood that Celtic practice differed - the
only name of common origin is the one for October.
Welsh 'Medi' is, I'm sure, of the same origin as 'medi' "to reap" - the
harvest month. In Cornish & Breton it is the month of "White Straw" (gwyn
+ cala, gwenn + kolo). Maybe "White Straw" also in Brithenig?
'Hydref' also means "autumn" in Welsh, but the words for "autumn are quite
different in its two sister languages. I don't know the etymology of the
word, but it does look as though it was an old Celtic month name *Setrem-
to which the GMP could be applied :)
Both Cornish and Breton simply call November the "Black Month" (which it
certainly is up in these islands!) and, indeed, "y Mis Du" is common in
Welsh also as a name for November. But if the Chomro did the same, I guess
they'd simply use the Brithenig words for "Black Month". I'm afraid I
don't know the origin of the Welsh "Tachwedd".
The Welsh, I assume, is the prefix 'rhag-' = "pre-", "fore-", and 'byr' =
"short", since the month begins in the days before the shortest day, the
winter solstice. The Cornish and Breton is "Black Acre" month! Nothing
doing on the farm.
"White Straw" & "Black Acre" have a poetic ring to them. "The Black Month"
is common to all the modern Britttonic langs, as is the survival of a form
derived from a Celtic *Setrem-