Thank you, Dennis.
In some of the older Gaelic dictionaries, like Dwelly, achrann is listed as
'brambles'. As you doubtless know, in Britain brambles are raspberries or
blackberries, prickly, thorny ('sharp') bushes that one can easily become
My primary interest in the word achrann is the Achren that occurs in the
medieval Welsh poem Cad Godeu. This word - or personal name, as it is
thought to be - has given Welsh scholars a great deal of trouble. As the
Cad Godeu has to do with a mythical battle of the trees and other wild
plants, and as the raspberry plays a significant role in this battle, I've
been wondering if Achren could be a borrowing from the Irish.
The Cad Godeu battle is fought at a Caer Nefenhir, which would appear to be
the great Tre'r Ceiri fort at Nefyn on the Lleyn Peninsula. Nefyn is the
Welsh cognate of the Irish Nemhain, a goddess whose name means 'battle-fury,
warlike-frenzy, strife'. Achen is a woman whose name must be guessed. Bran
is her male counterpart, and he carries alder sprigs (Bran has a son Gwern
or 'Alder' in the Mabinogion). What I'm thinking - and, yes, this is highly
speculative - is that Achren is not properly the name the woman or goddess
in question, but is the achrann or raspberry thicket belonging to
Nefyn/Nemhain. Both her name and the word achrann can mean 'strife'.
Does this seem to make sense to anyone?
On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 9:09 AM, Dennis King <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Neil McLeod wrote:
> As the word is an o-stem, I wonder if it is a cpd with -crann, 'wood',
>> perhaps a late form of *'fo-chrann', 'under-growth'?)
> aicher (sharp) + rann (part, portion, section) > achrann =
> sharp/rough/cutting part (of field, forest) ??
> This would involve syncope and broadening of the resultant consonant
> cluster under the influence of the broad quality of the two r's.
> This is very speculative (and doubtful, I think) and would imply that the
> word existed under the written radar for quite a few centuries. DIL seems
> to indicate that "aicher" was borrowed from Latin "acer". Is this the case,
> and is that relevant to the formation of such a compound?
> BTW, I haven't looked at the Scottish Gaelic Studies article yet.