Thursday, November 27, 2014

On Rabbits and Linguistics

On a linguistics forum, a user with the handle Maciamo wrote: "Quite a few [Wallonian] words have direct Germanic roots."

If Maciamo hadn't used the word "roots," I would've never even flinched. But I'd just read a long treatise on a Facebook site, Irish Medieval History, and had spent an afternoon tracking down all manner of leads on rabbits—double-checking their information. The Irish have no word for a rabbit nor do the English or the Germans! 
In Irish coinín (kun een) is the word used for a rabbit. It derives from the Latin “cunīculus”. Similarly in English the word used was “coney” which was correctly pronounced like the Irish as “cunny”. Rabbits were not native to northern Europe which is why there was no Germanic or Celtic word for them.
Well, I wanted to share my wealth of new-found knowledge (see below). I even joined Eupedia, a feat that took far too long, only to find that I couldn't post a comment anyway. So I'm posting it here.

conén (or conin) => rabbit/lapin (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish = "kanin", Dutch = "konijn", German = "Kaninchen")
robète => another Walloon word for rabbit (from Middle Dutch "robbe", obviously sharing a root with the English "rabbit")
Maciamo, you erroneously assumed that because there are similarities between certain Germanic words and Walloon words, ergo, Walloon borrowed words from the German, or the Dutch.

In the case of coney, or rabbit, you couldn't be more wrong. I suspect your other examples wouldn't hold up to close linguistic scrutiny either.

Both are loan words—as Iberian coneys/rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were not native to northern Europe. (Hispania, from the Phoenician, means 'the land of rabbits.') There is no native word for coney or rabbit in Celtic or Teutonic, nor mention of coney or rabbit in England before the Norman period.

You need to trace words back to their earliest sources before you can make that kind of declarative statement. Had you done your homework, you would've discovered that rabbits are not native to northern Europe and that the words (and rabbits) were borrowed from iberia.

The word robète does NOT sharing a root with the English word for rabbit, because that too was borrowed from the Latin. There were no native rabbits in Britain, they arrived during the 12th c. with the Normans. Rabbits were first domesticated by monks during the 5th c. in what is now France. (And the word ‘rabbit,’ from the French, means a young conin, or coney.)

OED a. A rabbit: formerly the proper and ordinary name, but now superseded in general use by rabbit, which was originally a name for the young only.

TheFreeDictionary:[Middle English coni, from Old French conis, pl. of conil, from Latin cunculus, possibly from cunnus,cunus, female pudenda.]

Coney used to rhyme with bunny, was a slang term for a red-light district, so it fell out of favor, so to speak.

English Language & Usage: OFr. conil, connil, cogn. w. Pr. conil, Sp. conejo, Pg.coelho, Ital. coneglio:-L. cunīcul-us rabbit, according to ancient authors a word of Spanish origin. The OFr. pl. (with l suppressed) coniz, later conis, gave an Eng. pl. conys, conies, and this a singular cony, conie. The ME. cunin, konyne, conyng was a. OFr. conin, connin, Anglo-Fr. coning, a parallel form to conil, which gave also MDutch conijn, Dutch konijn, and, with a for o, LG. kanîn, whence mod.G. dim. kaninchen. In Eng. the form cunyng, cunning came down to the 16th c.; but from the 12th c. onward it varied also with cunig, conig, connyg.

It has no native name in Celtic or Teutonic, and there is no mention of it in England before the Norman period; in the quotations the fur, perhaps imported, appears before the animal. The Welsh cwning, cwningen, is from ME.; the Irish coinnín, and Gaeliccoinean, coinein from ME. or AFr." 

I had posted this to Irish Medieval History:
An interesting morsel. So they're desert creatures. Sounds like the Romans bought them to Britain which would go a long way in explaining the Latin loan word. So, what did the Iberian Celts call rabbits, not conejo. (I wondered why Iberia was referred to as the land of hyraxes (shaphan/ rock-badgers), it appears that there's a common thread.

Cunny rhymes with bunny...(and the words rabbit means little cunnys...) This opens up a whole new line of questions for rabbit folklore. How many of you say "white rabbit" before you get out of bed, during the first day of the month?

And what about hares? Were they also called cunnys?
"...The European rabbit, widely kept in ancient Rome native to southwestern Europe (Spain and Portugal) and northwest Africa (Morocco and Algeria).... first recorded by the Phoenicians prior to 1000 BC, when they termed the Iberian Peninsula i-shaphan-ím (the land of the hyraxes). This phrase closely resembles modern Hebrew: i (אי) meaning island and shafan (שפן) hyrax, plural shfaním (שפנים). Phoenicians called the rabbits 'hyraxes' because hyraxes resemble rabbits, and were more common than rabbits in the Levant. One theory states that Romans converted the phrase i-shaphan-ím, with influence from the Greek Spania, to its Latin form, Hispania, which evolved into the modern Spanish word España. 
...they were first introduced to Britain by the Romans following their invasion of the British isles in AD 43. 
Portuguese National Authorities have classified the rabbit as Near Threatened in Portugal, whilst Spanish authorities recently reclassified the rabbit as Vulnerable in Spain."
Then, there are hares, is there a different word for hare? Or were they conflated as one species? re: While rabbits burrow (not sure that they had to learn to burrow—it seems they already knew how to burrow, but...

Lesley, I think your burrowing information is conflated with that of hares. "All rabbits live underground in burrows or warrens, while hares live in simple nests above the ground. Hares do not bear their young below ground in a burrow as do other leporids, but rather in a shallow depression or flattened nest of grass called a form. 
...In Irish folklore, the hare is often associated with Sidh...
The hare has given rise to local place names. An example in Scotland is 'Murchland', the Scots word for a hare being 'murchen"
I found this: Murchen 'hare' in Scots Gaelic. But it was an odd site.
European Hares: "They may have been introduced to Britain in prehistoric times. ... bucks are fertile all year round except during October and November." (Nae baws!)
"The words "rabbit", "hare", or "coney" (is translated as) hyrax in some English translations of the Bible. Early English translators had no knowledge of the hyrax (Hebrew: shaphan), and therefore no name for them. There are references to hyraxes in the Old Testament, particularly in Leviticus 11, where they are described as lacking a split hoof and therefore being not kosher. The NIV translation incorrectly claims that the hyrax chews its cud. Some modern translations refer to them as rock badgers."
(I know it's all Wiki links, but it's a place to start... something about Wiki articles brings out the battleaxe editor in, for brevity's sake, I chopped out extraneous words so they're not exact quotes but links are below if anyone wants to hunt them down—the links, not the rabbits.)

 Here is the online etymology dictionary entry for coney/rabbit.

coney (n.) 
c.1200, from Anglo-French conis, plural of conil "long-eared rabbit" (Lepus cunicula) from Latin cuniculus (source of Spanishconejo, Portuguese coelho, Italian coniglio), the small, Spanish variant of the Italian hare (Latin lepus), the word perhaps from Iberian Celtic (classical writers say it is Spanish).
Rabbit arose 14c. to mean the young of the species, but gradually pushed out the older word 19c., after British slang picked upconey as a punning synonym for cunny "cunt" (compare connyfogle "to deceive in order to win a woman's sexual favors"). The word was in the King James Bible [Prov. xxx:26, etc.], however, so it couldn't be entirely dropped, and the solution was to change the pronunciation of the original short vowel (rhyming with honey, money) to rhyme with boney. In the Old Testament, the word translates Hebrew shaphan "rock-badger." Rabbits not being native to northern Europe, there was no Germanic or Celtic word for them.
All the English language dictionaries with etymologies state that the origin of CONEY - Middle English conies, plural, from Anglo-French conis, plural of conil, from Latin cuniculus.  First Known Use: 12th century (Miriam Webster)
Someone posted that hahn is the German word for rabbit, but it's the word for cock! (OMG let the puns roll).  And so they did: "Cunnies" love to Tickle Cock.
in English the word used was “coney” which was correctly pronounced like the Irish as “cunny.” In the 19th century rabbit gradually takes over from coney (cunny) when the latter became a punning slang word. The c-word was very common in medieval England and was found in many street names like Grope(c-word) Lane. Today we might call such a street the red light district. Search Google maps for Tickle Cock Bridge! It is a pedestrian underpass in Castleford.
Someone else wrote: German does have a word for rabbit, it is kaninchen and the word for a hare is hasa. "Hahn" is a fowl, NOT a rabbit. Haas is Dutch for hare. In eastern Dutch dialect the word for rabbit is kenien, which is pronounced exactly the same as Irish kuneen.....

And someone named Bunny liked my posts...LOL

Van Morrisson song Coney Island…
Coming down from Downpatrick
Stopping off at St. John's Point
Out all day birdwatching
And the craic was good.

A real Coney Island mindfuck.

really really rough notes:

aiwe => river
Later you equate the Wallonian word for yes to Germanic.'... it is in fact closer to the Scottish "aye". Both are probably syllable reversal of the Germanic "ja" or "yeah". 

Walloon is classified as an oïl dialect of Gallo-Romance languages, based on the way the word for "yes" is pronounced. The Walloon for "yes" is "ayi". It may sound vaguely similar to "oïl" (pronounce "oi" as in "oil" without the "l"), but it is in fact closer to the Scottish "aye". Both are probably syllable reversal of the Germanic "ja" or "yeah". 

The Walloon for "no" is "neni". It is again much closer to the German "nein" than the French "non" or southern Romance "no". Likewise the negative equivalent of the French "pas" (as in je ne sais pas) is "nin". It is probably a nassalised version of the Dutch "niet" German "nicht", derived from the local Frankish dialect. In any case it is completely different from "pas".

So despite the big chunk of Romance vocabulary, many basic words in Walloon appear to be of Germanic, Celtic or unknown origin (possibly pre-Celtic).

It surprises how little studied the language is. After all, it covers an area with more traditional speakers than Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.

"yes" is "ayi". That's oui in French, vs the -oc of Langdoc, Scottish AND Irish did not suddenly take up German words to says yes, and dyslexically reverse the letters.  If anything, Walloon probably predates the French language since it was comprised of Gauls speaking a foreign language (Latin).

Hard c  because of germanic influence, that c remained k?  predates French,,,
its pronunciation "tsh" is typically French : what you have there is the affrication of the latin [k] before [a] after palatalisation. This process is French, and occurs nowhere else. During the XIth and XIIth centuries, when most English borrowings from French occurred, the grapheme "ch" (from Lat. "c") was pronounced "tsh" in Old French. Only during the XIIIth century, the pronunciation was reduced to "sh". Therefore, the English words with an initial "ch" pronounced "tsh" are are mostly French loanwords with a rigorously accurate Old French pronunciation ("chance", "choice", "chamber", "chair" etc.). On the contrary, the phonetics of "castle" is Germanic, albeit being a Latin word.

Here is another example of why Walloon might be considered a Germanised Romance language. The Walloon word for castle is tchestê, which is almost the same as the English 'chester' (as in Manchester, Winchester Chichester, etc.). Chester is the Anglo-Saxon pronunciation of the Latin word castrum, which gave castello in Italian, castillo in Spanish, château in French, and of course 'castle' in English. The fact that the Walloon word is closer to the Anglo-Saxon than to the French or other Romance languages is, I think, a clear sign that Walloon was originally the language of the Franks who adopted Latin after settling in the Roman province of Gallia Belgica.

The term Walloon is derived from *walha, a Proto-Germanic term used to refer to Celtic and Latin speakers

Walloon originated in Romance languages alongside other related terms, but it supplanted them. Its oldest written trace is found in Jean de Haynin's Mémoires de Jean, sire de Haynin et de Louvignies in 1465, Walloon evoked a constitutional reality, it originally referred to Roman populations of the Burgundian Netherlands and was also used to designate a territory by the terms provinces wallonnes or Walloon country (Pays wallon), from the 16th century to the Belgian revolution, and later Wallonia.[10] The term 'Walloon country' was also used in Dutch viz. Walsch land.[11][12] The term existed also in German, perhaps Wulland in Hans Heyst's book (1571) where Wulland is translated by Wallonia in English (1814).[13] In German it is however generally Wallonenland : Le païs de Valons, Belgolalia, Wallonenland, in "Le Grand Dictionnaire Royal" Augsbourg, 1767;[

Since the 11th century, the great towns along the river Meuse, for example, Dinant, Huy, and Liège, traded with Germany, where Wallengassen (Walloons' neighborhoods) were founded in certain cities.[27] In Cologne, the Walloons were the most important foreign community, as noted by three roads named Walloonstreet in the city.[28] The Walloons traded for materials they lacked, such as copper, found in Germany, especially at Goslar.
he root of the word Wallonia, like the words Wales, Cornwall and Wallachia,[4] is the Germanic word Walha, meaning the strangers. Wallonia is named after the Walloons, the population of the Burgundian Netherlands speaking Romance languages. In Middle Dutch (and French), the term Walloons also included the French-speaking population of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège[5] or the whole population of the Romanic sprachraum within the medieval Low Countries.
Julius Caesar conquered Gaul in 57 BC. The Low Countries became part of the larger Gallia Belgica province which originally stretched from southwestern Germany to Normandy and the southern part of the Netherlands. The population of this territory was Celtic with a Germanic influence which was stronger in the north than in the south of the province. Gallia Belgica became progressively romanized. The ancestors of the Walloons became Gallo-Romans and were called the "Walha" by their Germanic neighbours. The "Walha" abandoned their Celtic dialects and started to speak Vulgar Latin.[7]
The Merovingian Franks gradually gained control of the region during the 5th century, under Clovis. Due to the fragmentation of the former Roman Empire, Vulgar Latin regionally developed along different lines and evolved into several langue d'oïl dialects, which in Wallonia became Picard, Walloon and Lorrain.[7] The oldest surviving text written in a langue d'oïl, the Sequence of Saint Eulalia, has characteristics of these three languages and was likely written in or very near to what is now Wallonia around 880 AD.[6] From the 4th to the 7th century, the Franks established several settlements, probably mostly in the north of the province where the romanization was less advanced and some Germanic trace was still present. The language border began to crystallize between 700 under the reign of the Merovingians and Carolingians and around 1000 after the Ottonian Renaissance.[8] French-speaking cities, with Liège as the largest one, appeared along the Meuse river and Gallo-Roman cities such as Tongeren, Maastricht and Aachen became Germanized.\

angue d'oïl refers to the mutually intelligible linguistic variants of romana lingua spoken since the 9th century in northern France and southern Belgium (Wallonia), since the 10th century in the Channel Islands, and between the 11th and 14th centuries in England (the Anglo-Norman language). Langue d'oïl, the term itself, has been used in the singular since the 12th century to denote this ancient linguistic grouping as a whole. With these qualifiers, langue d'oïl sometimes is used to mean the same as Old French (see History below).\
In the 9th century, romana lingua (the term used in the Oaths of Strasbourg of 842) was the first of the Romance languages to be recognized by its speakers as a distinct language, probably because it was the most different from Latin compared with the other Romance languages (see History of the French language).
A good number of the developments that we now consider typical of Walloon appeared between the 8th and 12th centuries. Walloon "had a clearly defined identity from the beginning of the thirteenth century". In any case, linguistic texts from the time do not mention the language, even though they mention others in the Oïl family, such as Picard and Lorrain. During the 15th century, scribes in the region called the language "Roman" when they needed to distinguish it. It is not until the beginning of the 16th century that we find the first occurrence of the word "Walloon" in the same linguistic sense that we use it today.

By late- or post-Roman times Vulgar Latin had developed two distinctive terms for signifying assent (yes): hoc ille ("this (is) it") and hoc ("this"), which became oïl and oc, respectively. Subsequent development changed "oïl" into "oui", as in modern French. The term langue d'oïl itself was first used in the 12th century, referring to the Old French linguistic grouping noted above. In the 14th century, the Italian poet Dante mentioned the yes distinctions in his De vulgari eloquentia. He wrote in Medieval Latin: "nam alii oc, alii si, alii vero dicunt oil" ("some say 'oc', others say 'si', others say 'oïl'")—thereby distinguishing at least three classes of Romance languages: oc languages (in southern France); si languages (in Italy and Iberia) and oïl languages (in northern France).

"interdialectary" langue d'oïl had emerged, a kind of koiné. In the late 13th century this common langue d'oïl was named French (françois in French, lingua gallica or gallicana in Medieval Latin).
. The Picard language is first referred to by name as "langage pikart" in 1283ïlïl

raspoie (Old Walloon) => raspberry/framboise (like robète, spraute and sitouve, only English has a word related to it)
raspberry (n.) 
1620s, earlier raspis berry (1540s), possibly from raspise "a sweet rose-colored wine" (mid-15c.), from Anglo-Latin vinum raspeys, origin uncertain, as is the connection between this and Old French raspe, Medieval Latin raspecia, raspeium, also meaning "raspberry." One suggestion is via Old Walloon raspoie "thicket," of Germanic origin. Klein suggests it is via the French word, from a Germanic source akin to English rasp (v.), with an original sense of "rough berry," based on appearance.

raspberry: 1623, earlier raspis berry (1548), possibly from raspise “a sweet rose-colored wine” (c.1460), from Anglo-L. vinum raspeys, origin uncertain, as is the connection between this and O.Fr. raspe, M.L. raspecia, raspeium, also meaning “raspberry.” One suggestion is via Old Walloon raspoie “thicket,” of Gmc. origin.

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