Mêl comes from the same root that is common to many languages: the Greek word for honey is μέλι (méli), from which we get mellifluous, something that sounds as smooth as honey. Most Romance languages' word for honey is related too (miel in French and Spanish, miele in Italian).
Apparently the Slavic 'honey-eater' etymology for bears stemmed from popular taboo - it was feared that speaking the proper name for a dangerous animal would cause one to appear, so euphemisms were coined instead. It's similar in Germanic languages (including English) whose names for bears normally stem from words meaning 'brown'.
The original Indo-European name for bears can be seen reflected in Greek ('arktos'), Latin ('ursus') and - coming back full circle - Welsh ('arth')
Apparently Turkic and Mongolian languages have the word bal (or бал, for those that use Cyrillic) meaning honey, just like in IE languages. Considering that these language families aren't usually held to be related, it's interesting to think how they have similar words (/b/ and /m/ are both labial consonants- and lots of Altaic (Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, and sometimes Korean and Japanese) words for "I" or "me" start with a /b/, just like many IE words for "I" start with or contain a /m/).
Not sure if it was for me or someone else, but of course ;) - I'm a linguist by training. But I also recognise that a lot of people here will be familiar with Romance languages and thought I'd make the etymological connection. It helps me learning the much more unfamiliar vocab of Celtic languages to find recognisably shared Indo-European roots.
Yes, it was for you. Thank you for responding! Gracia! Tack så mycket för ditt svar! Tusen takk! Ich danke Ihnen für Ihre Antwort! Diolch!
PS. Vad trevligt att du studerar svenska, det är nämligen mitt modermål och dessutom så bor jag för nuvarande i Sverige (I am glad to see that you are studying Swedish. It is my native language and I currently live in Sweden). Bara fråga om du behöver hjälp i dina studier av svenska (I will be happy to help you in your studies of Swedish. Just ask)! Jag vill även passa på att uttrycka min stora beundran för er lingvister, det är verkligen en fascinerande vetenskap (I also want to say that I admire linguist like you, it really is a fascinating field of science). ☺
This is kind of amazing that every Eurasian language mentioned, even non-Indo-European languages as far away from Wales as Malaysia and Indonesia, all use cognate words for such a basic food item--one that's relatively universal, given that the bees do all the hard work. Between this and the person who said that it's used in Hungarian, I guess the challenge is to find a major Eurasian language that doesn't have a cognate word. My guess would be the Semitic languages, given their greater age.
Well, ancient (Middle) Egyptian has the bit for honey but it is quite unsure—we know only some radicals of their words, let's say, the consonants, and there are different systems of "filling" them with vovels... For bit it seems to be even more hazy, as the written form is the form of the bee with a determinative of a jug. More like a pictogram... But Sir Alan Gardiner and his fellow scholars surely had some reason to transscribe it this way ;)
While undoubtedly true in some cases, what astounds me is that this simple word (and so should be unlikely to be loaned) was shared in ways that don't mesh up with the usual colonialist account. In my Chinese example, the culture that received the word was the expansive one, and they never really dominated the Tocharians they borrowed it from. In the Malay case, if it did get it from Sanskrit that that doesn't strike me as very colonial, given that the Hindu empires of Southeast Asia weren't actually Indian colonies, but the result of cultural diffusion. (I understand this is simplifying the account and I'm not a specialist, so if describing it as such causes offense my apologies.)
And in each of the cases given, it predates the big wave of modern European colonialism, which itself is to make it interestingly different from when e.g. you have Spanish words in Nahuatl or English words in Igbo.
To take a twist, in Hungarian (not even Indo-European language!) honey is "méz". I don't know about its ethymology (howd'ya spellit?????) but perhaps a loan word, too... For some other Ugric languages it is "med" and some of our common words show the D -> Z change... If it is loan word, it comes from the deeeeepest well of language history...
Yeah, Finno-Ugric languages borrowed it: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Proto-Uralic/mete
So what's the difference (in pronunciation) between 'e' and 'ê'? Is 'ê' pronounced more like the 'pail'? What about 'w' versus 'ŵ'? I'm having some trouble hearing the difference, but is 'ŵ' more like putting your mouth in the position of 'w', but trying to say 'r'? Pronunciation guides to these vowels would be very appreciated, thanks.
How to phrase the answer depends on your accent, really!
In Welsh, all vowels can be "short" or "long":
a ¦¦ short: "cat" ¦¦ long: "father", or how American accents say the "o" in "pot".
e ¦¦ short: as in "pet" ¦¦ long: roughly as in "pail", but like French "é" is better
i ¦¦ short: as in "bit" ¦¦ long: as in "beet"
o ¦¦ short: as in "pot" (in an English, Welsh, Irish, Australian, accent) ¦¦ long: "rope" (French "eau" is better)
u ¦¦ same as i
w ¦¦ short: "put" ¦¦ long: "poot"
Normally vowel length can be told from context: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_orthography#Predicting_vowel_length_from_orthography But where a long vowel occurs where you would expect a short vowel, a circumflex (^) is written above.
y is like i n a final syllable (tyst, yfory). Everywhere else (ydw, yfory) it's sort-of like the "u" in "cup" - but the first "o" in "tomato" is better.
Welsh spelling is really, really regular though, so don't worry too much!