On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 12:04 PM, David Stifter
<[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> On Di, 10.02.2009, 18:19, Stag-Spirit wrote:
> > 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,
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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?
> First of all, what text of Cad Goddeu are you using? Have you looked at
> the latest edition, that by Marged Haycock in "Legendary Poems from the
> Book of Taliesin"? I couldn't find the name "Archen" in it.
Achren, Dennis, is the 17th century MS. Peniarth 98b pp. 81-82.
Strange that you should pass along Haycock's rendering of Nefenhir! I had
addressed that issue with Dr. Isaac Graham (now at the National University
of Ireland, Galway) a long time ago, in the context of Nefen(Hir) possibly
relating to the Novantae tribe of SW Scotland. His response? Absolutely
impossible. When I asked about Nefyn, found in the place-name on Lleyn (a
name derived either from the Laighin or Ui Leithain who settled there), and
the Nefyn paired with Urien of Rheged, who said that absolutely this name
was cognate with Irish Nemhain.
This all goes into a much more complicated argument, where Godeu (the
original spelling) is a truncated form of Gododdin. Gododdin is from the
tribal name Votadini (forgive me if I repeat informaiton you are already
well aware of!), and the root is likely a personal name cognate with Irish
Fothad. Now in the early Welsh poetry on Urien, Godeu is identified with or
as someplace in Manau. Manau Gododdin is well known. But there was also a
tradition that Gododdin warriors under Cunedda came down and
settled/conquered northwest Wales. Hence the use of Godeu in the context of
the Cad Godeu battle is a reference to the Gododdin in NW Wales, which is
exactly where we find the Nefyn place-name hard by the famous Tre-r Ceiri
fort. Gwydion is a central character in the Cad Godeu battle and he belongs
to NW Wales.
Anyway, I'm not qualified to say which scholar is right when it comes to
Nefenhir (cf. Cai/Cei Hir or "Cai the Tall"). I'm still primarily
interested in figuring out where this non-Welsh name Achren comes from.
> As for
> Nefenhir, your analysis is probably wrong. As the "nh" in the name shows,
> this goes back to either *Nowantori:x or perhaps *Na:mantori:x, in any
> case with *-nt- in it. This cannot be connected with Irish Nemain or Nefyn
> (see Haycock's discussion of Nefenhyr). Finally, a Welsh word "Achren"
> cannot be compared with an Irish word "achrann", at least not in the sense
> of inherited cognates. A Welsh "ch" does not equate with an Irish "ch"
> etymologically. Of course, the one word could be a loan from the other
> language, but this is really explaining obscurum per obscurius.