Thank you Ray,
I agree that more general answers is going to be more effective from here
on - and less exhausting - so I welcome the change too.
You are still criticising me for what you wish I'd done instead of
addressing your criticism to what I have done. I'm left to assume it's
because you can't fault what I have done. You have written at such great
length on how 'very bad' etymology is done that you have made a very
particular distinction between the 'very bad' etymology you describe, that
you are able to fault (anyone could) and the still unfaulted etymology I'm
doing, that doesn't resemble what you describe at all. It's a transparent
ploy and not scholarly.
The way you read into my clearly written mails implications of stupidity
which are not derivable from my reasoning but are quite transparently the
product of your own ego-driven need to discredit me since you can't fault my
hypotheses and have claimed to be able to, is nothing short of rudeness. I
have no other way of understanding you. Are you really academically reduced
here to spiteful undeserved slurs on me and insults that just can't hit
home. Have you no pride? Why do you stoop so low? I'm not pretending your
intention to hurt and insult me isn't hurtful. What do you gain as a
scholar, by being rude?
You have completely and I must conclude deliberately misread my email. It
clearly sets out my systematic approach to obtaining as much related data
from as many sources concerning the word or word element in question, from
as many countries in contact with the country you start in as possible, even
if it takes you very far afield. Why do you say I'm only looking at cognates
from one country?
I agree with you that I personally need much more knowledge, at every step
of my method, but we all need that, and besides, you haven't faulted my
method. I don't think you can have understood it to have come to the
conclusion you pretend you have come to. If you read it at all you have
misunderstood it in a very simplistic way.
The systematisation of the process of searching for cognates by trying out
different ways of pronouncing them has been fully described to you, and I
included a table of mutations to which consonants are susceptible as an
example of the kinds of tables that I am compiling to systematise the
process even further, these being based on principles I've been using all
And you have not conclusively faulted any of my hypotheses based upon it.
There's a vigorous science based on mouth shape, tongue position and throat
muscle movements as well as a kind of voice spectrometry that would bring
the whole process to life, if its data were brought to bear on it. I don't
know what branch of what discipline it is.
As for the problem of where to stop concatenating, this gets less
problematical as data gets more plentiful and the structures tending to
arise from the relationships logically possible become more familiar, as
they will as the work proceeds.
I wouldn't object that a particular dish, such as a type of soup, should be
associated with bards. Without even leaving England we have Cole,
Cauliflower, Kale, Collards and Celery, all associated with the
Coll/Kells/Col/aiste/Cell part of the 'poles' complex which I referred to in
my reply to Alexis. More would be found in the languages of neighbouring
countries or countries in other close contact with them, and must also
searched for, and then in countries near them, and so on. No one complex is
more important than another. All must be taken together.
Burgundy is a place, and also a kind of wine. Wagga Wagga is a town, and a
wagga is a kind of improvised blanket first made there during the
depression. Bard or a word like it might well be the name of a kind of soup
introduced to a region by bards.
Of course I realise that, as seductive as these patterns may be at first
glance, you need a lot more collaborative evidence from many interrelated
disciplines before the high levels of likelihood could be routinely
expected without a good deal of supporting evidence. But at this stage I'm
adamant that a likelihood exists for bard the poet = bard the soup, if such
a beaverage exists.
I'm not ignoring spatio-temporal considerations with regard to what I see as
possibly a pair of quite close cognates, ie, Catholic and Goidelic. I'm
paying a lot of attention to that aspect, and could give an account of it if
you or anyone else is interested.
Thank you for the charming piece of information about the Austrian ck/t
thing. You understand that such things are of value to me, especially when
they come vividly, in anecdotes like that.
If you think you have faulted my hypotheses, why not just set out the plain,
unadorned logic by which you do so. So far your objections have been only
that there are other at least equally dubious hypotheses, or that there is
no conclusive proof. These do not fault my hypothesis.
You protest that ceann/queen is a bit loose, and it is, I agree, but it's
not all that loose. Not looser than existing etymologies. Not as loose for
example as the case the experts have made for Prasto on the coins, which was
faulted by subsequent finds.
I've never said that any of my hypotheses was proven, but only suggested
that there was a case for looking at possible C-Celtic origins such as one
like the one I proposed for the word Iceni. Based on the hypothesised error
of a single Roman, this hypothesis doesn't flinch at the unconvincing
argument that no Roman would ever have erred.
I have freely admitted to gaps in my knowledge, but you have not been as
honest. Yet you must understand that they are as noticeable in your emails
as mine are in mine.
I'm not really intending to revolutionise Celtic Studies. I only mention
that words recorded as having been uttered by ancient Gauls could be
translated into plausible words extant in a surviving near relation of the
language she or he is likely to have spoken; and that words on coins from an
area known to have been inhabited by both Gauls and Romans, having upon them
inscriptions in Roman letters that can be translated into whole, coherent
and wholly likely Latin mottoes of victory and triumph, seem to me to be
more likely to Roman than Celtic, if no Celtic translation has ever been
found for them.
Are the very foundations of Celtic studies really threatened by the weight
of this uneducated amateur's unconventional hypothesis which you declare to
be unsupported and contradicted by a whole swag of 'evidence, not a whit of
which you have ever, incidentally produced, despite smoke-screens of
irrelevant stuff? If so, then they must have been rotten before I got
here. But seriously, there's plenty of room for growth in Celtic Studies
from what little of it I can see, and it's sturdy enough to enjoy a few
healthy paradigm shifts every now and then and flourish all the more.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Raimund KARL" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, 7 April 2002 9:11 PM
Subject: Re: Caesar Super-Gau
I'm sorry, but I don't have the time to answer to your mails in full
detail any more, and in fact I see no point in doing so. As such, a more
Your recent long message on you "system" of "etymologizing" was very
enlightening, and documents that you seem to be using kind of a
methodology, even though one that cannot be upheld as a serious
scholarly methodology. I will explain why, in short words:
If I have understood it correctly, what you are doing is creating lists
of hypothetical spelling possibilities. However, you are doing this
based on modern Irish spellings of words, not on earlier attested forms
of these words, and you are not applying at least somewhat consistent
pronouncation rules, but are treating every letter in a word similarly.
Thus, you end up with a huge number of alternative, allegedly possible
pronouncations (of which only very few can be found in actual attested
pronouncations of Irish, even if you take all existent Irish dialects
into account), and then compare those words to others which sound
similar. This is classical pick and choose methodology, something with
which, if other attested spellings of the same word from different times
are taken into account, leads to the possibility of making any two words
cognate you would ever like. By applying such hypothetical different
pronouncations, one can trandform the word bard into the word soup, if
only ever enough shifts in pronouncation are applied. As such, based on
your methodology, if not arbitrarily stopping at one point for
unargueable reasons, any word can be derived from any other word. This
devaluates your "etymology" and reduces your collection to an attempt to
parallelize meanings of words: the probably best example is your
queen-ceann equation: what you, in fact, do, is taking two words which
both have a secondary meaning "leader" and play with different ways of
pronouncing them until you arrive at a point where both words are
pronounced somewhat similar.
You do not take the attested diachronic development of words into
account, nor do you apply any consistent theory of language change into
your theory, you simply play around with saying things differently.
You also do not pay attention to the correct use of terminology: for
instance, you use the word cognate in a way that is, in linguistic
terms, completely wrong, as cognates require the development of two
distinct word by regular but different transformations from the same
The biggest problem, however, as I have already noted several times, but
maybe not precisely enough, is that you do ignore the spatio-temporal
context of your attestations.
This is clear for instance in case of your insistence of the equation
Goidelic to Catholic. While the term Goidelic is first attested 1882,
you claim that it is ancient, and take Chris Gwinn's mention of the term
Goidel as attested for the 7th-8th century AD to amount for an
attestation of the term Goidelic to be attested as early (and note, the
-elic instead of a simple -el ending is central to your own equation, as
only then you can argue for an -elic = -olic equation). This you take to
argue that Cath-olic and Goid-elic are cognates, even though the -ic
ending was added documentably to Goidel only as late as 1882. All of
this you take to argue for a pre-documentation-period Cath-olic that was
wrongly transmitted as Goid-elic, ignoring the fact that there is a gap
of at least 1200 years between the end of the pre-documentation period
and the first attestation of a term you derive from an unattested term
that allegedly existed in the pre-documentation-period. This you do even
though it is clear that in the 1882 text first mentioning the term
Goidelic, the logic is that the Q-Celtic language of the ancient Irish
is called Goidelic because it is the language of the people that called
themselves "goidel", and the same text introduces a parallel derivation
from Brython + ic for the P-Celtic language of the ancient British. This
only as an aside to the fact that the term Catholic can be perfectly
derived from, and documentably developed from, a Greek term with a
totally different meaning than your alleged "etymology" in a totally
different spatio-temporal context, and that you take the Old Irish word
Cath = Battle for a title, even though this is clearly attested in cases
like Cath Maige Tuired and other texts.
You constantly mix evidence from widely divergent points in space and
time and treat them as if they were closely related, for no apparent
reason. You simply shuffle their pronouncation long enough until they
seem to be remotely similar and then postulate that they, therefore,
have to be identical.
Below, I document that black is, in your logic, a cognate of white:
There are many languages that pronounce a b much closer to w than to b.
Thus, Black could have, in an unattested case, been pronounced wlack.
We know that many languages drop an l following a w, thus giving us
Now, a often is written as a shortened version of ai, giving us waick.
Then, ck is a short closing sound which is sometimes, for instance in
Viennese, pronounced extremely close to t, so close that there is
sometimes no distinction possible between a ck and a t.
Thus, we get a wait for a possible pronouncation of black, which is in
fact nothing but white, only spelled differently.
Both black and white are colours, thus black and white are cognate
terms, derived by the way from red, which is totally possible, and which
is rot in German, that was originally the term for a wheel that was
painted red, as wheel is Rad in German which is reasonably close to rat,
which tells us that orginally it was a term referring to a small mammal
that can have black or white fur - at least sometimes. Thus, all these
terms are cognates, and are in fact related to the sun, which is round
as well, as you turn from white over read to black if you wait (another
related term) and are exposed to the sun for to long.
This is a classical example of what is called a folk etymology. It is
funny, but tells us nothing about the origin of words, nor about the
historical development of languages, nor about relationships between
languages. It is speculation in thin air.
Similarly, you have no idea what you are talking about in many cases.
For instance, in your mails to John, you have argued that there are no
Celtic coins with Celtic inscriptions, but written in Latin letters.
This, however, is documentably false, as there are early 1st century BC
coins from the eastern Celtic world (Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and
Moravia), which have things like ECCAIO, NEMET, NONNOS, AINORIX or
BIATEC written on them. It is, however, perfectly evident that no Roman
authority of any kind existed in those areas in the early 1st century
BC, not even the Romans themselves ever claim anything like this, but it
can also be demonstrated in the archaeological record that there was
little if any Roman influence on those Celts living in the
abovementioned area in those times. Similar knowledge is evident from a
late 2nd or early 1st century BC shard from Manching, Bavaria, which has
clearly written BOIOS on it, in greek letters.
Similar gaps in your knowledge, which result in wrong interpretations,
appear frequently in your mails - most of those things you argue to be
common sense in fact can be contradicted by such evidence like the
abovementioned coin evidence, and in fact, are much more based on your
inability to imagine that "Celts could ever have acted like that" or
"Celts could have done this on their own". This is a typical feature in
people who think, for some mysterious reason, that they know "how the
Celts were" or "how the Celts thought", instead of actually wanting to
learn about Celts and their internal diversity; people who still believe
that "the Celts" existed like some monolithic block, unchanged
throughout time, defined by some "mystical characteristics", by "THE
Celtic spirit". Most often, such ideas are, and this is pretty evident
in your case as well, mainly based on massive gaps in knowledge of the
evidence, and a distinctive unwillingness to first learn what is there
and only then argue for a specific theory.
Had you read Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago
1962, which is the standard reading for how paradigms change, you would
know that it is not up to us to show that your paradigma is wrong, but
rather up to you to convince us, by presenting us with overwhelming
evidence that cannot be explained within the traditional paradigm, or at
least can be much more convibcingly be explained within your paradigm,
that your paradigma is at least equal to the current one. However, you
have miserably failed to do so, as yet, and, having taken a look at your
methodology, I have to say that I do not expect that you will succeed to
convince us at any time, as it is nothing but arbitrary postulation of
similarities without any relationship to any kind of reality.
All the best,
Mag.phil. Raimund KARL
Österreich: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Lektor für kulturwissenschaftliche Keltologie
Univ.Wien, Inst.f.Alte Geschichte, A-1010 Wien, Dr. Karl Lueger Ring 1
United Kingdom: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Research fellow (European Archaeology)
Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru,
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3HH; ffôn: (+44 781) 6464861
Besuchen Sie die Homepage der Studienrichtung Keltologie unter
Visit the Celtic Studies at Vienna University homepage at
Visit the Canolfan homepage at