Re: [tied] Barrrows and burgs.

From: Marc Verhaegen
Message: 3901
Date: 2000-09-19

Brugge has a belfort ("volksetymologisch" from French belfroy?). From berg 'high place'? Most belforten in my country (and in northern France) are not on high places (but there few high places here...). Perhaps from berg 'safe place', eg, Dutch herberg (now 'hotel, café'), and vrede 'peace', eg, Dutch godsvrede & stadsvrede. Piotr, was the g in *berg-friT was pronounced /x/?

Well done, Marc, though the first element is perhaps more plausibly a noun (*berga- < *bHergH-o- 'high place'). Belfry is then a Germanic compound, *berg-friT- 'high-place shelter' > Old French berfrei(t)/berfroi(t) 'movable siege tower' > Northern Old French belfroi 'siege tower, watchtower, bell-tower' (with r..r > l..r dissimilation, cf. Le Belfroi in the centre of Bruges, whereas dissimilatory r-loss has produced Modern French beffroi 'watchtower, belfry').
Belfroi was borrowed into Middle English as belfrei and folk-etymologised as 'bell-something' already in the 13th century (though it continued to be used in the meaning 'wooden siege tower'). Now people find it hard to believe that belfry originally had nothing to do with bells.

A small quiz: what's the origin of the word belfry?    Piotr
Seems to come from "bergen" (=to save) + "vrede" (=peace). Franconian>French>English: bergfrid>berfri>belfri?