Chapter 9: Further Investigations

All the wordlists compiled so far have produced interesting results. The RB list explained the link between robes and robbers and could have been expanded in other directions. The LM list explained why the Fisher King is lame. The Grail (GRL) produced a very dull little list, sufficient to show that its mystery is a medieval fiction. CR and CM were both very productive and generated very similar slices of the lexical pie despite signs that there was a regional difference in their use. With them we seem to have stumbled upon two very old and very prolific building-blocks of language, at least in Europe. Their long lists contain words for every aspect of prehistoric life and a few more recent ones: fire, hunting, farming, concepts of symmetry and asymmetry, the growth of social organisation, transport, the evolution of religion, and even the invention of paper and books. Despite the passage of the millennia words from all these levels are still in use.
RB did not repeat this pattern. In the case of RB, in fact, there are probably very few more words to find, unless we open up the list to CRB and related roots. Nor did LM provide a universal range of words: it is certainly a very old root but every word found referred to very old topics: fire, trapping, chopping, limping or leaping. The evolution of LM seemed to be restricted to a very specific and limited range of meaning. Of one thing there was no doubt: the main topic of both lists was hunting.

The similarity between CR and CM is intriguing. As a way of investigating the parallels I set up a short list based on the CD/CT root. It was less productive than either CM or CR. The largest available dictionaries produced only 140 words, But they fall into a comparable range of categories: there are CD words referring to fire, hunting and trapping, butchery, the names of animals, recent inventions and the number 4.

Significant Results:
Fire 12 words: 9 per cent
Hunting 70 words: 50 per cent
Farming 19 words: 13 per cent.

Short List of CD and CT words (140 words)

Fire
chad (Ru.) ‘smoke, steam; smell of cooking’.
citt (Hind.) ‘bright, clear, white’.
ghat (Hind.) 'cremation place’.
kaitra (Lith.) ‘heat, intense heat’.
katharos (Gr.) ‘bright, pure, clear’.
kauter (Gr.) ‘a hot iron’.
ketel (Du.) ‘boiler’.
säde (Fin.) ‘beam, ray’.
seethe (E.) ‘to cook in boiling water’.
shit (E.) ‘hot stuff in a cold climate’.
sjati (Crt.) ‘shine, blaze, beam’.
skaitus (Lith.) ‘bright’.

Hunting
The hunt
cadere (Lat.) ‘to fall down (dead).
cath (G.) ‘fight, carry on war (to hunt)’.
caute (Lat.) ‘carefully’. As in stalking an animal?
cedere (Lat.) ‘to go along, proceed’.
gjueti (Alb.) ‘hunting’.
godoras’ (Arm.) ‘carnage, slaughter’.
gudag (Arm.) ‘pile, heap’.
guddle (Sc.) ‘to catch fish by hand by tickling them’.
guetter (Fr.) ‘to watch, to lie in wait for’.
ketel (Heb.) ‘slaughter, killing’.
khat’aril (Arm.) ‘to perish’.
kydoimos (Gr.) ‘uproar, confusion, tumult, hubbub’.
quatio (Lat.) ‘to shake, beat, strike’.
set (E.) ‘to point out game by crouching’.

The hunters
cad, caddy, cadger (E.) ‘inferior, assistant, hanger-on, loafer (hunt follower)’.
cat (E.) ‘a hunter’.
catella (Lat.) ‘young bitch’; catellus ‘young dog’.
caterva (Lat.) ‘crows, troop, body of men (hunt followers)’.
cath-fhear (G.) ‘warrior, hero, champion’.
catus (Lat.) ‘wise, crafty, cunning; sly’.
ceatharne (G.) ‘body of fighting men’; cateran (E.) ‘robber, brigand’.
chide (E.) ‘to make a snarling noise, as a dog’.
gadu (Arm.) ‘cat’.
gidrij (Arm.) ‘brave, valiant’.
khuzan (Arm.) ‘crowd, mob, riff-raff (hunters)’.
kit’ (Arm.) ‘nose, snout’.
kot’ot’ (Arm.) ‘dog, pup’.

The hunting grounds
càthar (G.) ‘mossy soft ground, boggy ground’. > G. càr ‘mossy plain, fen’.
cautes (Lat.) ‘rough pointed rock; crag’.
cathair (G.) ‘fort’; caer (W.) ‘fort’.

Traps and ambushes
cat-luch (G.) ‘mouse-trap’.
catch (E.) ‘to take hold of a thing in motion; to seize after pursuit; to trap, ensnare’.
catena (Lat.) ‘chain, fetter; barrier, restraint’.
chute (Fr.) ‘deer trap', later used for a narrow passage for controlling cattle.
cudere (Lat.) ‘to strike, beat, pound, knock’.
gat (Du.) ‘hole, opening, gap in a wall’.
gata (Sw.) ‘narrow street’.
gate (E.) ‘narrow opening, defile’.
gatt (Ger.) ‘hole, narrow opening’.
geata (G.) ‘gate’.
gedic (Arm.) ‘specific place, spot’.
ghat (Hind.) ‘mountain pass'.
guttur (Lat.) ‘gullet, throat’.
khot’el (Arm.) ‘to push, put in, thrust’.
khots (Arm.) ‘sore, wound’.

Signalling systems
chat (E.) ‘a sharp, short noise’.
citare (Lat.) ‘to call or summon’ > ciere, cire ‘to make to go’.
cite (E.) ‘call, summons’.
cithara (Lat.) ‘stringed instrument’, Fr. guitare.
gath (G.) ‘beam of light’.

Equipment and weapons
coat (E.) ‘hair or wool of a beast’.
cothurnus (Lat.) ‘a high Greek hunting boot, laced up the front and covering the entire foot’.
cudgel (E.) ‘club’.
gad (E.) ‘metal spike, pointed bar, spear, goad’.
gath (G.) ‘arrow, spear’.
gatsin (Arm.) ‘axe, hatchett, adze’.
sgiot (G.) ‘dart, arrow’.

The quarry
cadaver (E.) ‘a dead body (that which falls down)’.
cetus (Lat.) ‘large sea animal; whale, walrus, shark, etc’. cf Ar. ketos.
chital (Hind.) ‘a species of deer’.
ketos (Ar.) ‘sea monster’. cf Lat. cetus.

Butchery
cut (E.) ‘to penetrate with sharp edge, divide, cleave, sever; reap crops’.
cutis (Lat.) ‘the skin, covering’; as E. coat, coating.
gi’dradel (Arm.) ‘to cut to pieces’.
gut (E.) ‘the intestines; a narrow passage, lane’.
gutta (Lat.) ‘spots or specks on an animal; a drop’.

Distribution of the spoils
cadge (Sc.) ‘to beg’. (A cadger was latterly a drover; originally a hunter.)
guttle (E.) ‘to eat greedily’.

Farming and Social Evolution
cade (E.) ‘pet lamb or colt’.
cata (G.) ‘sheep-cot’.
cathair (G.) ‘chair, seat, bench, throne; town, city; fortified city; gig; bed of garden stuff; stock of cabbage; plot; sentinel’.
càthar (G.) ‘full of seeds or husks’.
cattle (E.) ‘beast of pasture including sheep and horses’; L.Lat. captale, Lat. capitale, caput ‘head’.
caudex (Lat.) ‘heavy log of wood chained to feet of slaves’; block’.
chute (Fr.) ‘a narrow passage for controlling cattle (deer trap)’.
cote (E.) ‘place for animals’.
cud (E.) ‘to chew food’.
cuddle (E.) ‘to embrace closely’.
gat’ (Arm.) ‘milk’.
gatten (Ger.) ‘to pair, couple, copulate’.
get (E.) ‘to acquire; procreate’.
goad (E.) 'a sharp stick for driving oxen'.
goat (E.) ‘a ruminant animal, allied to sheep, native to the Middle East.’
khayt (Arm.) ‘string, bit, goad’.
khod (Arm.) ‘fodder, wood, grass’.
khuzel (Arm.) ‘to search; to clip, shear’.

Authority
caduceus (Lat.) ‘herald’s staff; flag’.
cedere (Lat.) ‘to give way, to cede’.
qadi (Ar.) ‘judge’.

Transport/Containers
cadus (Lat.) ‘cask (large container)’.
catillus (Lat.) ‘small bowl, dish, platter’.
catinus (Lat.) ‘deep vessel, bowl, dish’.
chatty (Hind.) ‘earthenware pot’.
cot (Ir.) 'small boat’.
gatsa (Arm.) ‘kettle, boiler, cauldron’.
khetsi (Arm.) ‘shell’.
kotyle (Gr.) ‘cup’.

Irrational behaviour
cadug (Arm.) ‘enchanter; vixen’.
god (E.) ‘a supernatural, all-powerful being’.
guidhe (G.) ‘prayer, intercession, curse’.

Novelties
kate (Fin.) ‘cover’.
katos (Fin.) ‘roof, shed, lean-to’.
cathedra (Lat.) ‘chair, stool, Fr. chaise’.
chiton (Gr.) ‘tunic’.
cot (E.) ‘small dwelling'.
cuidheall (G.) ‘wheel, coil; hurl, whirl’.
cuithe (G.) ‘flimsy shelter, hurdle’.
gatter (Ger.) ‘fence, lattice’.
godet (Fr. ) ‘triangular insert’. cf E. coat.
khat (Hind.) ‘cot, small bed or crib’.
shed (E.) ‘flimsy shelter’. Analogue of cot.

Four
ceithir (G.)‘four’.
quadrus (Lat.) ‘square’.
quattuor (Lat.) ‘four’.
quarto (Lat.) ‘for the fourth time’.
ketur (Lith.) ‘four’.
quatuor (Lat.) ‘four’.

Moving at speed
citus (Lat.) ‘quick’.
gad (E.) ‘to rush about’.
gadaghi (Arm.) ‘mad, furious’.
gatod (Arm.) ‘passionate (like a hunter)’.

Miscellaneous
gadar (Arm.) ‘top, crest’.
gatil (Arm.) ‘drop’.
gatuas (Arm.) ‘apoplexy’.
khid (Arm.) ‘thick, dense’.
khits (Arm.) ‘cork, stopper, plug’.

This is very satisfactory from one point of view. CD is the third root to show a virtually identical breakdown, matching all the major categories found in CR and CM and some of the minor ones. But perhaps this is more to do with the fact that all these roots start with C, representing Co, the primeval gathering word? Any root beginning with Co will naturally have had a great deal to do with hunting, herding reindeer, driving deer and herding cattle.

APPENDIX: THE KERN AND THE CATERAN: An enquiry into missing medial aspirates.

Anomalies are the shiny steel on the scrapheap of linguistics. One anomaly that cropped up when compiling word-lists was the discovery of paired words of similar meaning, one with a medial consonant and the other without. A typical example is E. griddle and E. grill. Such pairs are found in Classical Latin, in Gaelic and English and in English and Dutch. At first we explained them in terms of a double aspiration which had removed the medial consonant. However this does not appear to be the whole story and may not be any part of it.

The first example that came to light was the English word kern. It is typical of all the rest. On the face of it, E. kern ‘an Irish foot-soldier; a boor’ is a typical CR word for a hunt-follower. It is a slightly derogatory way of describing one of the rank and file. However those who compile dictionaries say that kerni derives from Ir. ceatharn ‘band of fighting men’. From the TEC point of view the problem is that ceatharn is a CT word. This suggests that ceatharn, losing its medial consonant, has changed from a CT word into a CR word. This has some bearing on the validity of our CR root and of the TEC as a way of analysing words. Looking at the CR list with this in mind, it seems unlikely that the change from CT to CR has been very common, since the CR root is demonstrated in a coherent way by over 800 words, many of known antiquity. However I was interested to know how many of these words are cuckoos in the nest.

When we look more closely at the kern, who was Scottish rather than Irish, we find that there are two Gaelic words involved. The first is G. ceatharne ‘men fit for war (hunters)’, which is pronounced ‘kya-harna’ and which preserves a medial aspirate Th. This is found in English as cateran ‘Highland freebooter or robber’. It now begins to seem less obvious that G. ceatharne is also the origin of E. kern as the dictionary states. There is another candidate: G. ceàrn ‘man (hunter)’, pronounced ‘kyârn’ which is singular and seems a more plausible source of E. kern . We therefore have two pairs of words in Gaelic and in English, one plural, one singular, one with medial T and the other without.

In fact there is a whole cluster of related words (Fig.9.5). Ir. cearnaighe ‘grumbling, complaining’ and Ir. cearnughadh ‘want, perplexity, fear’ no doubt reflect the feelings of the rank-and-file of the hunting world. There is no sign of any medial consonant in G. ceàrn ‘region, quarter, corner (deer forest)’, G. ceàrnabhan ‘hornet’, G. cearnach ‘square’, Ir. cernach ‘square’, or their English equivalents, corner, hornet and square. A similar word, G. cearr ‘unlucky, left-handed’ is pronounced ‘kyârr’ and is also found as Early Ir cerr and Sc. car. The only medial consonants I have found are in G. ceatharne and E. cateran. The link between ceatharne and ceàrn or kern, though it seems probable, is not established and must in any case be of considerable antiquity since there are two parallel but distinct lines of descent, one with T and the other without.

Fig. 9.1 G. ceàrn and related words
G. ceàrn ‘region, quarter, corner’ E. corner, quarter.
G. ceàrn ‘man’ E. kern.
G. ceàrnabhan ‘hornet’ E. hornet.
G. cearnach ‘square’ Ir. cernach ‘square’, E. square, corner.
G. cearr ‘wounding, cutting’ E. harry ‘to plunder’, hership ‘raiding’..
G. cearr ‘unlucky, left-handed’ E.Ir cerr, Sc. car, ker.
G. ceart ‘right, just, upright’ E.Ir. cert, Lat. certus, E. certain.

This is not a unique situation. Du. teder is now teer ‘tender, soft-hearted’ and Du. hagel, E. hail, and Du. nagel, E. nail, follow the same pattern. We found other similar words, with and without a medial D, in our investigation into the grail or gradale (Chapter 5). The eroded versions, if that is what they are, are at least as well represented as the original versions. From their sense one would say that most of them are very old words.

Fig. 9.2 Sets of words with (+) and without (-) medial consonants

catena (Lat.) ‘chain, fetter; barrier, restraint’ (Fr. cadenas ‘padlock’): distinct from (and not ancestral to)

- chain (E.), ceangal (G.) ‘tie, fastening, tether’, cingler (Fr.) ‘to beat, whip’; cingulum (Lat.) ‘belt’, ceinture (Fr.) ‘belt’, sangle (Fr.) ‘strap, belt’, teinne (Ir.) ‘link of a chain’, teinne (G.) ‘tightness, rigidity’.

cathair (G.) ‘fort’;

– caer (W.) ‘fort’; càraidh (G.) ‘defences’.

càthar (G.) ‘mossy soft ground, boggy ground’;

– càr (G.) ‘mossy plain, fen’; Alb. çark ‘trap’, Fin. korpi ‘backwoods, wilderness’, G. corcach ‘moor, marsh’, Hind. cara ‘grazing ground, pasture’.

ceatharne (G.) ‘body of fighting men’; cateran (E.) ‘robber, brigand’;

– ceàrn (G.) ‘man (hunter)’; kern (E.) ‘Irish soldier’ (kerns were from Scotland).

ceithir-cheàrnach (G.)‘four-square’.

crudelis (Lat.) ‘cruel, severe, fierce’; crudus (Lat.) ‘raw, bloody’;

– cruentus (Lat.) ‘bloody, gory’; cruor (Lat.) ‘a flow of blood’.

cuidheall (G.) ‘wheel, coil; hurl, whirl’

– coil (E.), hurl (E.), wheel (E.), whirl (E.).

flagellus (Lat.) ‘little whip, scourge’, vlegel (Du.)

– flail (E.), fléau (Fr.) ‘an instrument for threshing by hand’.

focale (L.Lat.) ‘fire-place’; focarium; (L.Lat.) ‘hearth’;

– foyer (Fr.) ‘hearth, fire-side, home’; feu (Fr.) ‘fire’; fuel (E.) ‘material for a fire’.

gradale (Lat.) ‘a flat dish’; krater (Gr.) ‘bowl’; griddle (E.) ‘a flat iron baking tray’;

– graal (O.Fr.) ‘a cup’; grill (E.) ‘a grid for broiling meat’.

grutellum (L.Lat.), grytta (A-S.), groats, grout (E.), grits (U.S.) ‘coarse oatmeal’;

grudaire (G.) ‘brewer’, gruth (G.) ‘curds’.

– gruel (E.) ‘groats’, gruau (Fr.) ‘groats’.

meadhon (G.) ‘middle, central’; medius (Lat.) ‘middle’; meet (E.), middle (E.)

– mean (E.) ‘average’.

patera (Lat.) ‘a broad flat dish’; pægel (A-S.) ‘gill measure’;

– pail (E.) ‘a vessel with a hooped handle’; paele (O.Fr.) ‘pan’; poele (Fr.) 'stove'.

quadrus (Lat.) ‘square’; quater (Lat.) ‘four times;

– quarto (Lat.) ‘for the fourth time’; carreau (Fr.) ‘a square’.

vogel (Ger.) ‘bird’;

– fowl (E.) ‘bird’.

In the case of L.Lat. focarium ‘hearth’ and grutellum ‘gruel’ we must be wary of the medieval tendency to derive words by hook or by crook from a Latin original. Fr. feu ‘fire’ and E. fuel ‘material for a fire’ are said to ‘derive from’ Lat. focus by way of focale and focarium. Lat. focus certainly means ‘hearth’ but to see a Latin word as the origin of Fr. feu is illogical. If fuel and gruel have lost a letter, this did not happen recently. It has taken a long time for these distinct versions to evolve. Without them, the presence or absence of a former medial D or T would not be detectable.

Since D and T are the letters most affected, I also looked more closely at CT words and found a curious feature of CT words in Welsh.

CT and CTh words in Welsh
Welsh is particularly rich in CT words which fall into two categories. The first is based on *cat ‘war (hunt)’, which is found as G. cath ‘battle, fight, struggle; company of soldiers; army’. The Welsh words are numerous, consistent in structure and varied in meaning. Most refer to hunting or heroic activities and as a group they have practically no cognates in English.

Fig 9.3 CT words in Welsh
cat ‘bit, piece, fragment’.
catbais ‘coat of mail’.
catel ‘cattle, chattel’, probably from E. cattle, chattel.
catffwl ‘numbskull’.
catgamlan ‘rout, riot, tumult, confusion’.
catgi ‘dog of war, mastiff’.
catgor ‘solemn festival, fast’.
catgordd ‘troop of soldiers’.
catgorn ‘horn of battle’ (hunting horn).
catgun ‘war chief; brave warrior’ (hunt master).
cetyn ‘piece, bit, scrap’.
cytal ‘to dwell together’.
cytew ‘thick, stiff, viscid’.
cytio ‘to pen (an animal)’.
cytir ‘common’.
cytun ‘in agreement’.

The second category is based on CTh, generally CThR. It also represent aspects of hunting but in a more fragmentary way. Allowing the equation of B/C and L/R, the CThR words have many cognates in Welsh, English and other languages. A clue to the antiquity of this series is the equation between W. cethern ‘furies’ and Gr. keres ‘furies’. The disappearance of Th in this case must have taken place before the dawn of Greek literacy and over a very wide area since comparable entities include Hermes, Kali and the Valkyries (page ref).

Fig.9.4 CThR words in Welsh with possible CR cognates
cathlu ‘to sing, chirp’ W. cerdd ‘music, song’, E. carol, chirp.
cathrewr ‘ox-driver, goader’ W. cerbydwr ‘charioteer’, certiwr ‘carter’.
cethern ‘fiends, furies’ Gr. keres ‘fates, furies’.
cethrain ‘to drive, to goad’ E. prick, G. geur ‘sharp’.
cethren ‘spike, nail, spear’ E. sharp, G. bior ‘spike’.
cethrin ‘piercing, horrid’ W. cerfio ‘to engrave’; certh ‘sharp, keen, terrible, violent’.
cythraul ‘fiend, devil’ Gr. keres ‘fates, furies’.
cythrawl ‘contrary, adverse’ G. ceàrr ‘unlucky, left-handed’, Sc. car, ker..
cythreules ‘she-devil, fury’ Gr. keres ‘fates, furies’.
cythrwfl ‘uproar, tumult (hunt)’ E. kerfuffle.

A possible explanation of the differences between the CR and CThR words is the influence of literacy. Welsh has had a long history as a literary language and appears to contain elements of the original oral language, represented by the CThR words (Fig. 9.4), as well as a more recent and more standardised literary or heroic lexicon, represented by the CT words (Fig. 9.3).

There is another possible explanation. We have come across ThR already in a very out-of-the-way corner. When we looked into the equivalence of Armenian and English consonants we found that H’ and Gh are sometimes equated with L and R in other languages. I proposed that L /R was a guttural sounds, like Welsh LL and Parisien R. Perhaps ThR is this guttural R? In that case it is not difficult to understand the conversion of ThR to R. There is no missing medial aspirate. Th was never an independent T but part of R, and CThR words are properly CR words, as their cognates suggest. Their appearance and disappearance suggests also that ca is a prefix.

If this is true of Welsh and Armenian, could it explain the sets of words listed in Fig. 9.2? With very few exceptions, the answer appears to be yes. Many of them end in L or R preceded by a Th or G (G in Dutch is a guttural Ch sound). G. càthar and G. càr, Du. vlegel and E. flail, E. griddle and E. grill, Ger. vogel and E. fowl can all be explained by the conversion of an old guttural ThLL or ThRR to a modern L or R and the disappearance of various epenthetic vowels. Only two words cannot be explained in this way. With Lat. catena 'chain' and G. meadhon 'mean' we do at last find a missing medial consonant suggesting that ca- and me- are prefixes.

This suggests that the genuine loss of a medial consonant a relatively rare phenomenon which can be accommodated without special legislation. It can be recognised by using an etymological dictionary to confirm the form of the root.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License