Re: crazy Celtic collective nouns
|From:||Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, May 24, 2001, 4:20|
On Wed, May 23, 2001 at 10:54:35PM +0000, kam@CARROT.CLARA.NET wrote:
> On Wed, May 23, 2001 at 12:27:36AM -0400, R. Eamon Graham wrote:
> > Okay the third thing concerns collective nouns, namely, the Celtic
> > trait of forming the singular of a collective noun from the plural
> > (which often times looks like a singular rather than a plural)
> > rather than the other way around... I read something about this
> > when I was like 12 and I was as confused about it then as I am now,
> > and something said about a Brithenig word reminded me of it:[snip]
> > Is this phenomenon found in other languages?
> I think Arabic does something similar.
Yes, there were at least a few words in Proto-Semitic that were like that,
with descendent forms surviving in at least some Semitic languages.
Unfortunately I don't know much about Semitic linguistics at all, but I do
remember that there was a word meaning "swarm of bees," with the noun "bee"
being derived from it via a feminine suffix. The funny thing is, the
feminine suffix (-at) was very similar to one plural suffix (-a:t), so it
almost looked as if "bee" were the plural of "swarm of bees." There were
some other words like that too, that I don't recall specifically offhand.
I really like this idea, and will be sure to make use of it in my current
project, Dhakrathat (tentative name). Quite a while ago, I made up my mind
to use singular collective nouns for the names of tribes, clans, families,
etc.; the word for a single person of such a group would be derived from the
*/Dak_>ra/ - The Dhakra people (those who speak Dhakrathat)
*/Dak_>ra? akka:/ - A single Dhakra (lit. "person of the Dhakra")
*/Dak_>ra? akka:t/ - Dhakra persons (probably just certain ones, as opposed
to the whole population)
*/nasTa/ - The Nastha family
*/nasTa? akka:/ - A Nastha; a member of the Nastha family
*/nasTa? ranaksja/ - Ranaksja of the Nastha family; "Ranaksja Nastha" in
These forms are very tentative. Actually, they're pretty much guaranteed to
end up different; I have good ideas of the roots involved, but the
morphology is kind of ad-hoc.
Eric Christopherson / *Aiworegs Ghristobhorosyo