16 May 2013

Celtic *longā 'boat, vessel' (updated)


















Celtic *longā 'boat, vessel' is attested in Welsh llong 'ship', Old Breton locou 'vessels, vases', Old Irish long 'vessel, (little) vase, ship', to which corresponds the Gaulish toponymic element Longo-1. There's also Cisalpine Gaulish (Todi) lokan /longan/ 'cinerary urn', an accusative form where /ng/ is rendered as k.

Although some authors have suggested a loanword (with reanalysis) from Latin nauis longa 'warship' (lit. 'long ship'), specialists such as Matasović
2 think this is a genuine Celtic word without IE etymology, although I consider it to be cognate to Caucasian *leqˀV 'a k. of vessel' (NCED 1511), where the ejective stop became prenasalized.

Also related is Latin lanx 'dish, plate'3, apprently borrowed from Etruscan in account of its vocalism (lack of distinction a/o). 
_______________________
1 X. Delamarre (2008): Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, p. 206-207.
2 R. Matasović (2009): Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic, p. 244.
3 This meaning is reflected in Tsezian.

4 comments:

  1. Octavia,

    Growing up I learned Latin and Irish Gaelic, and the Latin for boat is "Navis" and for ship is "Navis Longa", literally "Long Boat".

    Gaelic borrowed the Latin phrase for ship, but dropped the "Navis" part - so that in Gaelic:
    Ship=Long (pronounced LUNG)

    In Gaelic, there are a number of words for Boat:
    Boat=Ba/d (Pronounced BAWD)
    Boat=Currauch (Pronounced KURR-OCK)
    Boat=Naomho/g (Prounced NAVE-OGE)

    Ba/d mean generic boat.
    Currauch means the leather hide row boats - over a wooden frame - used in the West of Ireland till the 1970's, for fishing and transporting livestock.
    Naomho/g means the slighter larger wooden boat, used in South Western Ireland (Co Kerry mostly) - from which people would sail back and forth to France and Spain regularly till the 1600's

    ReplyDelete
  2. Growing up I learned Latin and Irish Gaelic, and the Latin for boat is "Navis" and for ship is "Navis Longa", literally "Long Boat". Gaelic borrowed the Latin phrase for ship, but dropped the "Navis" part

    Although this is the "traditional" explanation, it's explictly rejected by the specialist Ranko Matasović in his Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic: However, I believe it is more probable that we are dealing with an inherited Celtic word for 'vessel', with unknown etymology [...]. For me, there's little doubt this is the same Vasco-Caucasian 'vessel' root found in Latin lanx 'dish', surely borrowed from Etruscan.

    ReplyDelete
  3. PIE as * (s) pondh-(ispan. «bote», English. «boat»), Slavic. "pyad'" initially as a "measure of length (boat)" (false then correlated with a similar-sounding "Pyatina" - "measure in the five fingers"), as the previous root * leq'V «Ship" was originally gave the term "lokot'" (measure the length of the ark, for example).

    и.-е. как *(s)pondh- (испан. «bote», англ. «boat»), славянск. «пядь» изначально как «мера длинны (лодки)» (затем ложно соотнесенное с близким по звучанию «пятина» – «мера в пять пальцев»), как и предыдущий корень *leq’V «судно» изначально дал понятие «локоть» (мера длинны ковчега, например).

    ReplyDelete
  4. Actually, Spanish bote, Catalan pot is 'pot', and the homonymous 'boat' seems to be a Germanic loanword.

    ReplyDelete