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Cymraeg and 'Olelo Hawai'i

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suze
1305725.  Tue Dec 04, 2018 6:43 pm Reply with quote

Thanks to Jordan Ward for bringing this one to my attention. The QI Facebook feed has today asserted that English uses more words taken from Hawai'ian than it does from Welsh. Sorry, but I don't buy it.

There are two ways we could make lists of words from these two languages which are used in English. We could list every single word in a very large dictionary (the OED, say) which is recorded as occasionally used by a Welsh/Hawai'ian person when discussing local concepts in English. If we do that, then we're including words like bara brith or hiraeth on one hand, and aloha or humuhumunukunukuapua'a on the other. If you just want the longest list you can then do it this way, but it's not really very useful.

The more sensible way is to confine ourselves to words which are used with no reference to Wales/Hawai'i, and which one might use not knowing of their origin.

If we do that for Welsh, then we have bard, coracle, corgi, cwm (used by Geography teachers for a sort of lake), and eisteddfod (which I am assured is used in Australia in particular for cultural events of no particular Welshness) straight away.

Then we come to words like crag, crumpet, lawn, penguin, and wrasse (a fish). There is little serious doubt that these words are Brythonic, but they might have been Breton or Cornish before they were Welsh. Mind you, at A level you're probably allowed to use the nonsensical expression "same difference" at this point.

Being a little more speculative we could add adder (might be Dutch, but why would it be?), bow (as in what you do when you meet the Queen, not as in archery, and either Welsh or OE), crockery (either Welsh or Norse), flannel (might be French, but Shakespeare thought it was Welsh - and probably spoke a bit of Welsh), and iron (might be Goidelic), and so on.

What, then, of Hawai'ian? Kahuna (they're big), ukulele, and wiki as in -pedia. Maybe taboo, although this was introduced to English by Captain Cook and he thought it was Tongan. Not a whole lot else, though.

 
GuyBarry
1305750.  Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:31 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Thanks to Jordan Ward for bringing this one to my attention. The QI Facebook feed has today asserted that English uses more words taken from Hawai'ian than it does from Welsh. Sorry, but I don't buy it.

There are two ways we could make lists of words from these two languages which are used in English.


There's a third way of interpreting it, surely, which is to interpret "words taken from Hawai'ian/Welsh" as "Hawai'ian/Welsh loanwords". The only Welsh loanwords (ones keeping their original form in English) you mention are corgi, cwm and eisteddfod, I think. Are there others?

 
suze
1305815.  Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:40 am Reply with quote

If we're restricting ourselves to Welsh words used unaltered in English, then yes the list is fairly short. Corgi, cwm, and eisteddfod (and even in Australia some use the Welsh plural eisteddfodau, although eisteddfods is more common), yes. One might argue for cromlech (a standing stone), although dolmen and menhir (both Breton) are perhaps used more for this, the latter largely because Obelix.

There are a handful more used in specialist contexts. If you do a degree in Eng Lit you might encounter the word cynghanedd for the poetic system used by such as Dylan Thomas (Welsh) and Gerard Manley Hopkins (from Essex). The system originated in Medieval Welsh poetry, and doesn't have an English name.

Once we move into a specifically Welsh context there are others, but as already noted I want to exclude words that no non-Welsh person would ever use.


But under the same rules, how many Hawai'ian words are used in English unaltered? Not kahuna, because in Hawai'ian it means a witch doctor. Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku objected to being called the "big kahuna" because he knew - as most who sought to call him this did not know - what it meant.

Not wiki, because in Hawai'ian it means "fast", not "anyone can edit it". The person who first applied it to computing apparently took the name from that of a bus operator in Honolulu.

So ukulele, just about. That instrument actually originated in Madeira, not Hawai'i, but it was via Hawai'i that the world outside Madeira came to know of it. But even here we don't use the word unaltered, because in Hawai'ian it begins with a glottal stop and is written 'ukulele, and is stressed on the first syllable.

 
Bondee
1305845.  Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:49 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Thanks to Jordan Ward for bringing this one to my attention.


How is The Doc? Last I heard he was somewhere in (I think) Scandinavia.

 
Jenny
1305847.  Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:51 pm Reply with quote

Live and kicking on Facebook.

 
suze
1305850.  Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:56 pm Reply with quote

Alive and kicking, back in Huddersfield after sojourns in both Denmark and Bavaria, and still has a fairly similar taste in women to the good Bondee!

 
Bondee
1305852.  Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:05 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Alive and kicking, back in Huddersfield after sojourns in both Denmark and Bavaria...


Excellent! Tell him to drop in and say hello.

suze wrote:
... and still has a fairly similar taste in women to the good Bondee!


The good Bondee is a positively monk-like individual who doesn't think about the opposite sex at all!

The bad Bondee, however...

 

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