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Subject: Delt and deiltre
From: Dennis King <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 10 Oct 2007 09:32:57 -0700

text/plain (36 lines)

Liz brought up the name Delt a few days ago.  On further consideration, 
I think that this proper name may indeed allow us to further understand 
the noun "deiltre ~ delltre".

In "Togail Bruidne Da Derga" (§108 in Knott's ed.) we get a description 
of the six cupbearers ("sé dáilemain") of the King of Tara, whose names 
are Úan (foam, froth), Broen (rain, drop of liquid), Banna (drop of 
liquid), Delt, Drúcht (dew) and Dathen (a word/name regularly paired 
with "drúcht").  The majority of these names are ordinary nouns related 
to water/liquid, thus appropriate to and symbolic of the cupbearers' 

Delt is, according to DIL, the name of a river, which gives the 
name/word a liquid credential.  More interesting still, is Deltbanna, 
whom the Dindsenchas identifies as the son of Drúcht (Google 
"deltbanna" for the links) and the husband of the goddess of the River 
Life (Liffey).  Wetter and wetter!  Deltbanna is a transparent compound 
of delt + banna(e), the latter being the word we saw above meaning 
"drop of liquid".  Construing this compound in the usual way gives us 
the meaning "drop of 'delt'".  What is "delt"?  Something watery, it 

It looks as if "de(i)lt-re" might be a compound like "delt-banna".  
What, then, is the second element -re?  I suggest that it could be the 
noun "ré", unstressed and with a short vowel as would be normal in this 
position.  "Ré" means generally an interval of time or space, but most 
often a period of time. "Delt-re" could thus mean "a period of 
'something watery'".  In context, "delt" would make sense as "fog" or 

Deltbanna = a drop of fog (what we call "fog drip" here)
de(i)ltre = a period of fog

That's my theory.


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