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CELTIC-L  April 2002

CELTIC-L April 2002


Re: Caesar on the Gauls


Vyvyan Ogma Wyverne <[log in to unmask]>


CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.


Mon, 1 Apr 2002 16:19:26 +0930





text/plain (342 lines)

Hallo Ray,
----- Original Message -----
From: "Raimund KARL" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, 31 March 2002 9:57 PM
Subject: Re: Caesar on the Gauls

Hi Vyvyan,

Vyvyan Ogma Wyverne schrieb:
> Well, Chris,
> > >well would inevitably lead to a variety of spellings. I think it's
> > >of Mattingly to believe that there ever was a 'correct' spelling of a
> > >word on the basis of its being rendered only once into Latin in any
> > >surviving text.
> >
> > I highly doubt that Mattingly is the one being naive here.
> That's only your opinion against mine.

No, that's Chris and the vast majority of all scholars opinion against
your speculation. Opinion should be seen as an educated and reasonable
judgment based on perceivable evidence, which is what the opinion of
Chris and scholars in Celtic languages is. Your speculation, however, is
based on ignorance rather than on knowledge of the evidence, which
disqualifies your statements from being a viable opinion.

This is polemic, not scholarship, but I'll give you fair answers.

It's a question of whether a word from another language, upon being
transliterated for the first time, can be said by this act to have been
accorded a 'correct spelling'.  In modern times there are a number of
different local systems of trans-literating Aboriginal words into the Roman
alphabet, and this is evident in place-names even though a standardised
system is being worked out. Meanwhile some of their most important words,
such as Alcheringa/Altjeringa (the Dreaming, or the on-going eternal act of
the creation of time and the 'motifs' of being), had no 'correct spelling'
until they were included in the Macquarie Australian Dictionary.  Similarly,
I don't think you can speak of a correct spelling of Boudicca/Boadicea until
you have it in a dictionary, and then, only by virtue of its appearing
there, which it does at the arbitrary judgement of the lexicographer.

To give you an example, what you call "your opinion" is comparable to
claiming, today, that the earth is flat and Australia doesn't exist,
because people would doubtlessly fall off the planet would they live on
the lower side of the flat earth.

Now you are being the Fals Knight on the Road.
That there is no correct spelling of Boudicca/Boadicea, or that Mattingly
might be naive, doesn't equate to that the Earth is flat.

Now, of course, you are free to stick
to that opinion, but all available evidence

You give no references.

 clearly points to the fact

It is an opinion.

that such an opinion is blatant nonsense

This is a value judgement, and therefore opinion.

 and is an invalid, not viable
description of reality, as, as can be shown in numerous ways, the earth,
in fact, is a geoid (usually simplified to: round), not a flat plane,and no
one drops off its edge when she/he reaches the horizon. As such,
if you uphold the idea that the earth is flat IN SPITE of the available
evidence, you of course are welcome to do so, but nonetheless, it is not
a viable scholarly opinion, but just a crackpot idea.

Yes, but that the name represented as Boudicca here and Boadicea there had
no correct spelling until someone judged between the two and published this
judgement as fact doesn't equate to cosmological madness.

 Or, to give
another example, your "opinion" is comparable to the belief of someone
who thinks of himself/herself as being Napoleon, the French emperor -
while, of course, such a person is absolutely free to uphold that
opinion, intersubjectively such a person will be considered as suffering
from a mental illness that causes such a delusion.

Deconstructing mental illness is a bit ambitious, and probably vital to
Celtic Studies.  Nevertheless, Thinking that 'correctness' in spellings is a
matter of opinion, except insofar as prescribed by a dictionary as a matter
of convention, is a far cry from believing oneself to be Napolean.

Similarly, your statements about the Celts are not valid scholarly
opinions, as they go against all available evidence, which you need to
twist in horrible and non-regular fashion (i.e. you have to twist each
piece of information in the evidence differently, and not interpret
several larger portions of it in similar ways, following a regular,
self-similar pattern) to come to the results you arrive at.

No.  Facts aren't things.  To twist them is a metaphor.  I don't work
according to your metaphor.  You have to check out all its possible
references and in deconstructing, see them as having natural relationships
as well as conjectural ones.  Each conjectural relationship ties it to a
paradigm.  Tthe more conjectural relationships within a paradigm there are,
whether they accord with the natural or not, the more necessary it is to
recall what it is that is being tied in.  Without forgetting how it fits
into the first hypothesis, you should then divest it of these relationships
before trying it in a second or third paradigm.  That way, nothing is
twisted, and many more possibilities are viewed, followed up, and compared.

As such,
your opinion, as interesting as it may sound to some, is nothing but an

No one, not even a specimen of the many supporters of a single opinion, is
more than an individual.

non-intersubjective opinion

I'm not sure what that means.

that has no validity as a
scholarly opinion (which needs to be intersubjective to fulfill the
criterium of being a valid opinion).

If you mean others should think so too, exposure on on email list can't
establish whether it is or isn't.  But perhaps it doesn't mean that.  (It
isn't in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary). But reading on it appears that you
do, or something very like it.

Therefore, Chris' and your opinion are not on the same level of
intersubjective quality: while Chris' is, even though many scholars
might disagree on minor aspects of his opinion, within the range of
general, intersubjectively acceptable and thus scholarly opinions, while
yours is nothing of that, but a delusion.

Are you saying that 'fifty thousand Frenchmen can't be wrong?'  Scholarly
intersubjectively acceptable opinion to the effect that the sun was at the
centre of the universe was orthodoxy, with torture and cruel deaths as
punishment for heresy at one time.  Intersubjectivity can only ever be among
scholars in agreement, so as a criterion for deciding the validity of an
opinion, it is based on a tautology and is therefore of dubious value to

> To talk of 'correct' spellings in those days is surely illogical. One
> things as one heard them, and the result was individualistic but within a
> range of intelligibility, like accents are in speech.

The transcription of spoken words follows something that could be called
"transscriptive attractors".


As such, while there of course is nothing
like "one correct" spelling of any spoken term, the transscribed forms
are self-similar in appearance, and this self-similarity follows regular

I'm not understanding you.
  We have one spelling from the Roman Tacitus, and those who copied him. We
know when that spelling dates from.  We can scarcely imagine that the few
texts that survive from the period of the Roman occupation and the following
centuries are the only ones written, and in the multitudes of destroyed or
unpreserved material, we can't know how many spellings arose in Britain
itself, or when they dated from.  Anyway, is the earliest spelling always
given as the correct spelling?  All you can say is that two different
spellings are known and make no judgement between them.

As you fail to show such regular patterns, but do present us
time and again with individual, unattested cases,

They don't exist.  We have only the Roman form and those who use it, and the
British form which may have surfaced into the preserved literature after
spending a long time in the lost literature and in unrecordable speech.
There may have been others, which haven't survived.

and you are violating the
basic principles that underly any scholarship, including, BTW, Chaos

That's not how I would use Chaos theory in this.

Your explanations are, to be precise, explanations as if human
societies were non-deterministic Chaos,

I'm not sure why you say non-deterministic there. Nor do I imply that human
societies in general are chaotic, although it could be argued that they are.
I'm saying that we have no clear knowledge of who was in Britain during the
time of the Roman occupation, where they were from, what languages they
spoke, how diverse or similar they were, which ones were natives, and which
ones were refugees or allies. So cultural turbulence is indicated.

which, of course, as we can
clearly and intersubjectively observe, they are not, but rather show all
the features associated with deterministic Chaos as described by Chaos
and Complexity theory.

Perhaps, but I don't think Chaos theory can tell us much about the spelling
of Boadicea/Boudicca at this point though I agree that it in general it is
useful in examining the contexts within which linguistic studies of the past
are done.

In other words, Vyvyan, get a clue before you
start to make big-mouthed claims.

(Wide smile.)

> > Oh, lord. Ever heard of the Old Irish words buaid "victory" and buadach
> > "victorious"? Ever seen their Welsh cognates budd "benefit/gain" and
> > buddig "victorious"? Guess what? Irish Buadach and Welsh Buddig are the
> > equivalents of Gaulish Boudic[c]a.
> Yes, that's perhaps just as likely.

No, not as likely, but much more likely, in fact, incredibly much more
likely. As, in fact, that the abovementioned terms are cognates can be
determined by looking for regular patterns of language development and
applying them to the terms in question.

It could very well be a kenning.  Bards competed a lot.  In declaring a team
of poets victorious at an eisteddfod or similar competiton you would be a
equating the idea of bards with the idea of victors in just such a way as mi
ght give rise to a kenning, accidental to deliberate.  Becoming a bard was a
competetive thing, wasn't it?

> Although I can't imagine her announcing herself to the conquering
> Romans as 'Victory', even if she had taken that name.

Well, this shows the basic problem you have, which, BTW, is a basic
problem quite common to people who come up with theories like you: You
can't imagine that a queen that was defeated by conquering enemies
called herself "Victoria".

I can't imagine that she'd have given her personal name on being conquered.

However, apart from the fact that this is an
application of hindsight (and I am pretty sure that Boudica did not
expect to loose when she started the British rebellion), there are
several queens that carried the name "Victoria" and still never won
large wars.

Still it's more likely that that the Roman who took down her name, got it
the way I said:  Bardacha.  The bards were who she represented, and an
utterance something like 'Is i sin an ceann /i' was how the leader was
pointed out to him.
It was a turbulent time.

> As to the possibility of her having been given it at birth, I think
> we'd have to  know more about Celtic naming customs.

We know quite a lot about Celtic naming customs, even from Antiquity.
Additionally, insights can be gained from the archaeological record that
indicate that children were given a name when they had reached a certain
age, at earliest with about six months, at latest with about 6 years, a
practice that is quite well in line with what is recorded for most
non-modern societies, is in line with what is recorded for almost all
European societies in Antiquity and fits well with the patterns found in
the Early Irish and Welsh literature, be it the legal literature or the
epic one.

This tells us nothing about what kinds of names they gave their children

It is also pretty evident that naming customs were following a regular,
historically contingent pattern in case of individual naming, as such,
it is possible that Boudica changed her name from whatever to Boudica
when she was made leader of the British rebellion, but definitly not
after her defeat.

This appears to me to be a non sequitur.

This, of course, all apart from the fact that
Boudica's name was known to the Romans well before her defeat, as again
is evident from the available sources.

Which sources, please?

But, of course, all of this
doesn't fit with your pet theory, and thus you'd rather ignore it.

I am giving it close attention.

For further literature see: Klaus Löcker und Raimund Karl, Aus dem
Fenster geworfen oder doch bestattet? Überlegungen zu
Kinderskelettfunden in der Gewerbesiedlung im Ramsautal am Dürrnberg bei
Hallein. In: A. Krenn-Leeb et al. (Hrsg.), Die Alpen in ur- und
frühgeschichtlicher Zeit. Tagungsbericht der ÖGUF-Tagung in Wattens,
Oktober 2001.

I'm sorry, I can't easily access this material.

> Given their diversity, were any of them in the habit of giving
> children names denoting abstractions like victory?  Do you know
> of any instances?

There are numerous cases of similar names that are attested from the
Celtic world,

You haven't cited any.

even though the name Boudica is only attested for the
Icenian Queen. The name "Victoria" is not especially surprising in that

But not immediately relevant here, I think.

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


Vyvyan  /|\

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