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View Diary: ÍslensKos: The Icelandic Language (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Lingustic Complexity) (183 comments)

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  •  Funny. And had me going. (2+ / 0-)
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    Ahianne, PrahaPartizan

    Oddly I have a degree in Middle Welsh and also oddly live in sight of Puget Sound and was going to come down hard here but found my leg being pulled.

    FWIW I have always found the place name evidence for an actual Norse presence in South Wales to be unconvincing. Notably because so many seem associated with seamarks, that is distinctive features on land as seen from the ocean.

    For example pretty much the heart of the Welsh Kingdpm of Gwynedd was the island called Anglesey, almost always explained as derived from Onguls-ey which looks pretty clearly to be the 'ey' or island/isle of a common Norse name Ongul. Okay. But an examination of a map of Anglesey shows that the coast when approached from the north and west is shaped very much like a fish-hook, or in Norse 'ongul' and I would think fully cognate with English 'angle'. That is I always found it plausible that the English word for 'Anglesey' is not originally local at all, in fact the Welsh still don't call it that, it was and still called Ynys Mon, in the Latin of  Tacitus 'Mona' Yet scholars working backwards from the English place name eagerly look for evidence of a Norse presence. Sensible enough in that most of the islands west of Scotland and east if Ireland were occupied in historic times by raiding Vikings. But apart from a devastating raid Mon always seems to have been firmly under control of the Welsh Kings of Gwynnedd through to the 13th century, that the English would associate it with some vapory figure named Ongul seems more a name seeking an explanation and back in the day philologists tended to jump to eponyms and settlement patterns rather than consider such things as seamarks.

    But Wiki for example simply sites Ongul's Island as if written on stone (presumedly in runes).

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    by Bruce Webb on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 01:49:18 AM PDT

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