[LMB] Consonants OT: (was kind of on topic: Jokull means glacier?)

John Campbell Rees jwcr at gardd-lelog.org.uk
Thu Apr 22 11:26:09 BST 2010

On 4/21/2010 11:39 AM, Peter Granzeau wrote: 
> Since English hijacks words from everyone, and since
> Welsh is so close geographically (if not linguistically), it
> stands to reason that a word might have made it into
> English with a w used as a consonant, and it has: cwm 
> (pronounced coom, I think), which means a cirque
> (the steep-walled head end of a valley). means a 
> cirque (the steep-walled head end of a valley). 

Basically, the counties of the South West of England (excluding Cornwall) were only loosely held by the Saxons, the majority of the population being Britons. Whilst the Saxons had mostly eradicated the local proto-Welsh Celtic language, place names remained, and filtered through Anglo Saxon into today's English place names. Hence Coombe Park in Devon is the same as Cwmparc in the Rhondda.

I cannot think of any words directly taken from Welsh to English. "Cwm" (k^m) actually means any sort of valley in Welsh, places at the head of a valley usually have the word "Blaen", meaning ahead of" or "in front of", in their names. However, there is a theory that many words in English that begin with "gu" taken from French,such as guard actually came from Gaulish word similar to Welsh that start with "gw".  Guinneviere originally having been Gwenhirfawr. 

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