Armorican Mistifications

We’ve already discussed the strange place names in Bretagne.  In fact, more than once.  But things get stranger yet.

That Breton is not a Slavic language is not something that is up for discussion.  And yet, we do have these strange signs:


That div means two as against the Slavic dva should not be surprising given the Indo-European nature of both types of languages.  But yezh means language as compared with, e.g., the Polish język is strange.  As per the infallible Wikipedians, the latter is derived from the Proto-Indoeuropean *dn̥ǵʰwéh₂s whereas the former comes from the Proto-Celtic *yaxtī.  Presumably the Proto-Celtic should be derived from the Proto-Indoeuropean.  Yet, the Celtic descendants of  *dn̥ǵʰwéh₂s are more on the “tongue” side, e.g., Old Irish tengae or, in fact, the Breton teod.  So where did the yezh come from?  

Incidentally, the -ek is an adjectival suffix – meaning it turns a noun into an adjective – in this case the noun yezh (language) into an adjective yezhek (lingual).  The addition of div (two) as a prefix turns this into divyezhek, meaning, of course, “bilingual”.  What is bilingual?  Well, in the above example the classes (Klasou).  The Slavic equivalent would be -owy/-owa/-owo.  And yet, even given all that, it is strange to see

  • klasou divyezhek
  • klasy dwujęzyczne or klasy dwujęzykowe

Compare that with bilingues.  Which of these look more related with one another?

Nor are these the only examples.  Take for example the phrase “what will you have to eat?”  In Breton it seems that “petra az po da zebriñ?” means “what would you like to eat?”  That is, to eat  in this case is zebriñ.  Now, in every Western Slavic language this word is reminiscent of “panhandle” or, to “beg for alms”, e.g., the Czech žebrat.  Of course, one can also beg for food.  (Brueckner derives all these from the German seffr meaning “wanderer” but is he right?  A “sufferer”?)  Another connection may be to “collect” or “take”, e.g., Polish zbierać.

Or take this genitive case example:


And what of this:


as compared with this:


Hardly a perfect match and yet, there is something to be said for this.  For the full map see here.

There are many such examples that are difficult to explain either geographically (the Germanic languages and the Latin French separate Slavic languages from Breton) or by reference to common Indo-European roots (see above).  Were the Veneti cloven asunder and all that remains in the West are these few words/phrases?  Or are the “true” Veneti the ones in Bretagne and what we are seeing in the East are merely the remnants?


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November 8, 2015

One thought on “Armorican Mistifications

  1. mchlrj

    Gdyby starać się wyciągnąć ‘żebrać’ od ‘zbierać’, to aż się prosi, aby powtórzyć to z ‘żegnać’ od ‘zginać (chociaż w tym przypadku pochodzenie jest znacznie lepiej wyprowadzone) oraz sprawdzić czy nie było gdzieś jakiegoś ‘zliezać’, które mogłoby być związane z niejasnego pochodzenia ‘żelazem’ 😀

    Bardzo ciekawa strona.


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