Celtic languages: root ank-

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Cilquiestsuens, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    Hello all,

    I wanted to know if we found in other Celtic languages words related to the following ones from the Breton language:

    Ankounac'h- (forgetfulness, oblivion)
    Ankoù (a name of the figure of Death)

    I wonder if they come from the same Indo-European root as the following words:

    anger, angst (English)
    angoisse (French)

    What about Welsh and Gaelic languages, do they have any related words?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. omniglot New Member

    angof is the Welsh word for oblivion / forgetfulness - cof is memory, and an is a negative prefix.

    The words for oblivion in the Gaelic languages don't resemble the Welsh or Breton ones:

    Irish - díchuimhne
    Scottish Gaelic - seach-mhallachd, tiorrainteachd
    Manx - jarrood, neuchooinaghtyn, neugheillid, neuimraa
  3. Wynn Mathieson

    Wynn Mathieson Senior Member

    Castell-nedd Port Talbot
    English - United Kingdom
    As omniglot points out, the Breton ankoun and the Welsh angof (forgetfulness, oblivion) are both negatives of the respective (and clearly related) words for "memory": koun, cof.

    I disagree, however, that the Irish word díchuimhne does not resemble the Breton and French words. Like those two it means "un-memory", and although it uses a different negative prefix, the word cuimhne is an obvious cognate of koun/cof.

    All three words derive from *co-men, from the root men, as in Latin memini (I remember), related to English "mention", "mind", etc.

    The ang- in anger, anguish, anxiety, by the way, comes from a root meaning "constriction".
    cf. Old English enge (narrow, painful), Latin ang(u)ere (choke, throttle, cause distress) and angustia (tightness, distress).

  4. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    Thanks to both of you for your instructive replies!

    So the case of ankounac'h is settled I think! I never thought of a connection with the word 'koun' (memory) in Breton, it seems so obvious to me now... Thanks again for opening my eyes!

    What about ankoù which is, as you know the Breton representation of the 'Angel of Death' or so, the terrifying character who appears to those about to die, with an ugly face and wearing a long black coat, a broad hat and a huge sickle...

    Any cognate words in other Celtic languages, or any known relation with the Old English enge (narrow, painful), Latin ang(u)ere??

    In Breton, enk is an adjective meaning: narrow? But I never thought there was a connection with ankoù... maybe???????
  5. Wynn Mathieson

    Wynn Mathieson Senior Member

    Castell-nedd Port Talbot
    English - United Kingdom
    I should have mentioned that there are Celtic cognates to ankoù --

    Cornish ankow, Welsh angau, Irish éag, Scottish Gaelic eug --

    although the "everyday" words may differ: "death" in Modern Irish is usually bás; cf. Breton Ankoù = Death (personified) as opposed to marv = death (in general) -- directly related, incidentally, to Irish marbh and Welsh marw, both meaning "dead".

    As to the etymology of Ankoù, the Indo-European root is *nek- "kill" and cognates include Latin nex, gen. necis "violent death, murder", nocere "to harm, hurt", noxius "harmful", Greek nekros "dead body", Hittite henkan- "death, death sentence, doom, plague".

    As you can see, there appears to have been a definite idea of violence or pestilence behind these words: not just a natural death!

    It has been suggested that there is a link between Ankoù and the Roman goddess of the winter solstice, death, and silence, Angerona -- and that she, in turn, is derived from a supposed Etruscan goddess of Death, Ancaru -- although the origin of Angerona's name does seem more likely to lie in that other angh- (= narrowness, constriction) root that I mentioned in my last post. (Which is not to say that there may not have been some cross-influences at work!)


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