On Mi, 12.08.2009, 18:37, Dennis King wrote:
> } a library
> All that these show, however, is that the word has been around for a
> few hundred years at least. Any connection with the hypocoristic -
> ucán / -agán ending seems unlikely semantically.
I want to contradict. I think that the suffix must be formally - and by
origin - the same as the hypocoristic one. The chances are very slim that
such a phonotactically unusual suffix with the sound /g/ arises twice
independently within the language. The reason why it does not have an
obviously hypocoristic meaning in this word must be somehow special. Since
the deminutive function of "book" was already occupied by "leabhra/n", and
since - unlike with words for people - a true hypocoristic was not
pragmatically necessary, such a formation could be metaphorically
transferred to another object related with the concept "book". It is true
that this hypothesis cannot explain why "leabhraca/n" means specifically
"library, book case", but it gives an account why the word doesn't mean
"dear little book".
The other word you cited, "la/mhaga/n" or "la/mhaca/n" is better suited to
show the implied semantic transfer: if "la/mhaga/n" is indeed the earlier
form (no idea where the /k/ comes from), we had a term of endearment for
"hands" to start with. From expressions in nursery language like "to be on
one's "little handies"" the metaphorical transfer to "to be crawling on
all fours" is quite simple.