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  5. "The badger and the snake."

"The badger and the snake."

Translation:Am broc agus an nathair.

April 22, 2020



English brock is clearly Celtic, but difficult to tell if it comes from a specific language as it is almost the same in all Celtic languages.

English an adder is thought to be a mis-hearing of *a nadder, a word found in many western Indo-European languages.


As for an adder – I think there is no doubt about it being a rebracketing of older a nadder. ;-) This happened a lot in English, see also how the diminutive/pet name of Edward is Ned from Middle or Early Modern English mine Ed being reinterpreted as my Ned.


Yep, the Old English word for a snake or serpent is 'nædre', which then became 'nadder'. I believe a norange > an orange is another, and possibly a nuncle > an uncle too? (I can't remember about that last one at the moment)


I believe in the case of uncle it went the other way around (like in the Ned example): uncle is the original historically justified form (comp. German Onkel; from French oncle) while nuncle is from an/mine unclea/my nuncle.


I recently came across what appears to be a Goidelic example while answering another question here

Gaelic Irish Manx
Alba Albain Nalbin
Èirinn Éire Nerin

I presume that these Manx forms come from something like An Albain and An Èirinn.


Yup, looks like it, good catch. Although it’s interesting since in the other languages the descendants of Albu and Éiriu do not have the article: it’s Alba and Èirinn, Albain and Éire, not *an Alba or *an Éire.

Because of that I wonder if the origin of Manx forms isn’t an Albainn / Èirinn, in Albain / Éirinn with the preposition aN, iᴺ as in in Scotland, in Ireland (also note that genitive in Manx is still ny hErin and ny hAlbey). Will need to look some more reliable source on that.


Thank you. We can agree it could be the definite article, but I prefer your explanation for two reasons.

Firstly, if Manx is more like Irish than Gaelic in this particular case, then the nasalizing preposition iᴺ might make people think of the n as being more attached to the noun than it is in Gaelic. It should, logically be i nÉirinn, i nDoire 'in Derry', although they write in Éirinn in practice.

Secondly it is a frequently observed phenomenon that places have their forms influenced by locative structures since this is how they are frequently encountered. For all I know, Gaelic Èirinn (nominative) is influenced by i nÉirinn in place of Éire as it does seem there was no n in the nominative in Old Irish.

Incidentally, that reference does give one example with an article in the nominative, so it was possible.

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