In: Acton, Middlesex
Hatty (bonjour, Hatty) wrote:
|Is it usual for a town to be called after a tribe? And would, even a French, tribe be called after a hair-do? |
There are numerous examples right here in Britain of Roman towns being named after local British tribes. See http://www.romanbritain.freeserve.co.uk/townsevidence.htm for an extensive discussion of the Roman evidence for town-names, showing that it was common for Romans to name towns after local tribes: curia Textoverdorum (Vinlanda), civis Cantii (Canterbury), and civitas Catuvellaunorum (a.k.a Verulamium) are examples. Generally better known (and probably more relevant) are Isca Dumnoniorum (Exeter of the Dumnonii), Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester of the Atrabates), Viroconium Cornoviorum (Wroxeter of the Cornovii), and Durovernum Cantiacorum (Canterbury of the Cantiaci).
It would be possible, therefore, for a Roman town to have been called <something> Trinovantum, e.g., civis Trinovantum ('the Trinovants' city'). But there is no documentary evidence of this earlier than Geoffrey (the earliest surviving Roman references are to Londinium), and no archaeological evidence of pre-Roman settlement in the area covered by the Roman city (Not that such evidence may not be forthcoming.) On the other hand, Chelmsford (Roman Caesaromagus, 'Caesar's Field') would make better sense as the Trinovant 'capital', and accordingly is sometimes known as Caesaromagus Trinobantum. (Post-conquest, their capital was at Colchester, Roman Camulodunum).
As to what tribes were actually named after; I haven't been able to find a parallel among British tribal names to 'Three-Plaited People' (i.e., a tribal name that refers to a characteristic of personal appearance), but there's plenty of other scope, including tribes named for deities, local geographical features, animals, or battle-prowess. However, there are some occurrences of 'personal' characteristics, such as 'Generous People' (Coritani) or (possibly) 'Very Vigorous People'( the Trinovantes). More of a reach is the possibility that Iceni, also recorded as Ceni, is the same as Gaulish Cenomani, 'Head People'.
|Interesting about boatmen and boats, Paris is also Par-ys, i.e. like an island or Ile de Paris. |
Haven't seen that one before, Hatty, and can't find anything via a quick Google. Care to give more details?
|If smith is related to pryd, does that mean Britain means 'tin-smithy' since the name allegedly derives from Welsh Prydain? |
See http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Britain_-_Etymology/id/619849 for some items on the etymology of "Britain". Most common assigned meaning is '[Place of] the Painted People' (compare Pict, and Caesar's remarks about woad); but the underlying form Qruitanos, revealed in Old Irish Cruithin, has the same root as cruth. (Cruth doesn't mean 'smith' in modern Irish, by the way, but 'shape' or 'form'.) There's a large number of possible meanings for a word derived from the underlying root, kwer-, which simply means 'to make' or 'to do', and 'painters', 'poets', 'smiths', and 'wizards' have all been among them in various Indo-European languages--not to mention 'creators'.
I like your speculation, but at the moment that's all it can be (but in my opinion, that's just like 'painted people').
|Quarisii or quarriers? Part of the team of magic-makers? Perhaps all tied up with 'core' and 'coeur' words, disembowelling and so forth. |
A link to 'quarrier' seems doubtful, since the latter comes from Latin via French (or perhaps the other way round, by AE thinking) and has always had initial 'qu-'; whereas the equivalent to Goidelic qu- in Latin is c- (as in creator).
'Core' and 'Coeur' therefore look more promising; they're held to be related to one another (essentially the same word, by my thinking, though the etymology of 'core' is said to be 'unknown' in some quarters). But the way the same word appears in other languages (English heart, Latin cord-is, Greek kardia, Hittite kir, and critically Welsh craidd, not praidd) point to an IE root kerd- rather than kwer- (if you believe that IE stuff. Provisionally, I do).
|So très in French means both 'three' and 'very', similar to Welsh (tra and tair). |
Well, no. 'Three' in French is trois. Très ('very') allegedly doesn't come from Latin tres ('three'), but from trans ('beyond'). I can see the thinking, but without my dictionary of French etymology (oh the pains of living in a small flat on the other side of the world from home!), I can't see the evidence. Without that, I'd say, 'If the Celts could do it, why not the French'? But the fact that Latin tres would correspond to two different forms in French, one identical, the other considerably different, would worry me.
I haven't got an etymology of Welsh tra ("very") to hand, but I know it's a reduced form of trag, also drag, which I think reflects an earlier drach. Welsh tair is the feminine of tri, "three". I strongly doubt that tra[g] and tri are related, but at the moment I've no solid evidence either way, only what philology has taught me about those devilish alleged sound-changes. (We know they happen, but are they really that regular?)
|Geoffrey's history is no more trustworthy than any other historical account but it's a bit reckless to dismiss his entire oeuvre as fantasy. There was certainly a lot of toing-and-froing between traders looking for tin and copper etc., no doubt including 'Trojans'. |
I love 'toing-and-froing'; I rhyme it (only internally!) with 'boing-boing'.
I didn't dis all of Geoffrey's 'history', just the parts that have clear political motives, and which are not represented in any other work or supported by any other evidence. Personally, I have a romantic hope that the archaeologists will be proved wrong, and a pre-Roman settlement will emerge under London some day. Intensive and extensive underground excavations (including of course the sewers and the underground) have found no sign of it, though.