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Subject: Re: Immacallam 58
From: Marina Ludvigova <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 25 Oct 2001 03:24:17 -0000

text/plain (90 lines)

Hallo everybody!

I don't know the Old Irish, I just try to learn Scottish Gaelic. But I like
to read your discussions about the ethymology of the Celtic/Irish/Gaelic
Since the English is not my strongest point (I'm Russian), please forgive my
awkward style. :-)

> > As to the name Tethra, gen Tethrach, there are several words tethra
> > in Irish. [...]  In view of the possible etymology of fomoire
> > "people from under the sea (?)" it suggests itself to connect the
> > name Tethra with the word for "sea".

I'm sorry about the uncertain origin, but I've read in a small popular book
("In the World of the Myths and Legends") that Tethra was the Ruler of the
Dead. ['teth'~'death'/'tot'?]
Just supposition.
It could explain also the following citation about the 'dead' and 'death':

> McCone, in his recent edition of "Echtrae Chonnlai", translates the
> relevant portion of text, spoken by the mysterious woman, as:
>   "Grandly does Connlae sit amidst the short-lived dead awaiting
>   terrible death.  The everliving living invite you.  You are a
>   champion of the people of the sea, who behold you every day
>   in the assemblies of your fatherland amidst your beloved near
>   ones."

Well, the Ruler of the Dead could be the champion of the people of (leaving
near) the sea "amidst the short-living dead awaiting terrible death".
The sea was ever dangerous and could kill the mortals.
It supports my point of view.

> He reconstructs the words most relevant to us as "at gérat do doínib
> tethrach", and says "[a]pplying as it did to a mythical king of the
> Fomorians associated with the sea, the name's form seems best
> explained as an old compound with 'rí' (king) as its second element,
> although it must be admitted that the first element 'teth-' remains
> obscure (unless perhaps based upon 'Tethys', a poetic Latin borrowing
> of the name of the Greek sea-goddess 'Tethús' also used to designate
> the sea itself)."

The word _Fomorian_ is obviously associated with the sea, but the root
'teth' could mean "the sea" only supposedly.
It's interesting, which root was older - the Greek 'Tethús' ("sea") or the
German "death"/"tot"? May be the ancient Germans, who put their dead in the
boats and burnt them, took the word "sea" as "death"?

>           Thurneysen, however, thought that etymology unlikely: "Die
> durchgehende Schreibung 'Fomore' (nicht '-mure') macht den Zusammenhang
> mit 'muir' (Mehr) unwarscheinlich.  Am ehesten scheint mir das Wort,
> das dem deutschen 'Mar' ahd. altisländ 'mara' engl. 'mare' entsprach,
> darin zu stecken, wie in 'Mor-rîgain' [Maren-Königen]... Sie wären
> als 'unter (seeische) Maren' bezeichnet."(quoted in Gray, _CMT_).

The word 'Fomore' is just more ancient and the root 'mor(e)' is yet quite
the same like in the Slavic languages. The meaning is clear - "the people
who lives near the sea, at the seashore", compare:
- the Russian word "pomorye" (the area near the Barents Sea, Archangelsk);
the man from this area is "pomor" -- the famous Russian scientist Lomonosov
was called 'the Great Pomor'.
- the Polish word "Pomorze", also one of the regions of Poland.
The Polish sound [rz] is historical the same as the Russian sound [r].
The prefix 'po-' is here equal the Gaelic 'fo-' = "along" [the sea(shore)].
'Mar(e)' is the origin Indo-European root with the meaning "the sea". The
later form 'muir' in Gaelic has still the forms 'marannan' and 'mara'. And
also in Japanese there is the word 'maru'.

There is nothing of the 'Otherworld'! Mikhail Lomonosov has two eyes on his
portraits! :)

Beannachd leibh,


Cat na Mara
'Moryana' ;-)

> So, depending on whose interpretation we favour, the "strong men
> of Tethra" among whom Néide proposes to venture may or may not be
> the Fomorians, "who were seen by the Irish, as the Lebor Gabála
> shows us, as unpleasant fellows" (in David's words).  This kenning,
> if such it is, might instead refer more generally to the people of
> the síd - the Otherworlders.  While not Fomorians, dealing with them
> certainly posed its own risks.
> Dennis

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