Re: Bagaudae/Bacaudae - What does "bag" mean?

From: Christopher Gwinn
Message: 16283
Date: 2002-10-16

> I must say that this may not be meaningful since we are talking
about words
> 1000's of years later being reported by writers in a different
language who
> were reporting one word in a foreign tongue that was otherwise not
very well
> recorded.
> For what it is worth, the Gaulish Glossary on the web
records "some 160 odd
> words that can reliably called Gaulish." A <bocht> 'poor' or
related "reap"
> (farmhand?) word does not seem to be among them.

Steve, I don't know what to tell you, other than you have a lot to
learn about Gaulish, and you are unlikely to learn very much about
this language on the web, I can highly recommend two books to you -
Pierre-Yves Lambert's "La langue gauloise" and Xavier
Delamarre's "Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise". These are simply
two must-haves for anyone interested in Gaulish. The 2000 edition of
Xavier's book has about 800 entries (which does not exhaust every
Gaulish word or name recorded - I have compiled my own list of
Gaulish words and names that contains thousands of entries), and I
understand that the new edition has been significantly augmented.

Haveing said that, I should note that Latin and Greek authors were
pretty good at recording Gaulish words and names - we don't find
nearly the amount of corruption that you seem to imply.

> Since we apparently don't have an attested Gaulish version of Old
> <bocht> and can't be sure how Latin writers would have heard or
recorded it
> (I believe some 100 years after the fact), <bocht> remains a
> candidate. If the Gaulish version of <bocht-> was heard as
<bacaud->, then
> that is enough - again with the strong semantic support - to make
> etymology as good as any other.

Once again I will repeat, it seems from the Welsh and Irish evidence
that the PIE root in question did not produce any Celtic offshoots
containing an a-grade vowel. The Gaulish equivalent of bocht would
have been *boxt- or *boct- (and the root, without the -t- suffix,
would have been *bog- in Gaulish), which is a far cry from
Bagaudae/Bacaudae. A Gaulish equivalent of Irish bocht is, thus, not
a good candidate.

> Christopher Gwinn REPLIED:
> <<Once again, we must deal with the Gaulish suffix -audae (which
is not
> related to the suff in Welsh bagad) - I just don't see in
Bagaudae/Bacaudae a
> Latin loanword with a Gaulish suffix attached.>>
> How many times is the <-audae> suffix attested?

Offhand, I know that it apears in both Gaulish alauda and bascauda.

> And why is it preferable to
> just interpreting <bagaud-> as a close form of <bagad-> or <bogod-
>? There
> is certainly no problem with the Romans adding their own -ae
ending - they
> did it to everyone else.

Yes, the plural -ae suffix is a Latinization of a native Gaulish
plural. The Gauls simply did not diphthongize the Latin suffix -at-

> "Bogod/bagad" actually looks like an excellent candidate, if the
> actually was Celtic -- it looks like nothing more than a loose
term for a
> "troop" of men -- which again makes perfect semantic sense, given
what we
> actually know about the Bagaudae.

I can't comment too much on Welsh bagad "host" or "cluster/bunch" -
I don't know its actual etymology. I _can_ say that it at least
looks like it might come from Latin *ba:ca:tus "adorned with
pearls", related to ba:ca "berry/round fruit/pearl" (but the Welsh
cannot come from Latin baccha:tio, "bacchanalian", which is
unrelated to ba:ca, I believe)

> (There are only maybe five words in that Gaulish Glossary on the
web that
> contain <au>. One of them is "Bagaudae/Bacaudae" -- (not strictly
> since no one expressively says that that name is Gaulish, I don't
think) --
> and another is <aus>, ear.

There are a number of Gaulish words containing the -au- diphthong.
Consult Lambert and Delamarre. The vast majority of scholars believe
Bagaudae/Bacaudae to be a native Gaulish name.

> Of the remainder, there is Gaulish <lautro-> (a bath) -- compare
> <lavare> 'to wash', Old Irish <lo'athar.> And there is Gaulish
<cauaros>, a
> giant, also - believe it or not -- reported as <cavarillus> -- so
that it
> would appear that <au> could = <av> even within Gaulish. However
this works,
> it certainly seems that <au> was not a common in written Gaulish,
> much it was in Latin.)

If I am not mistaken, Gaulish cauaros does not contain a diphthong,
but rather a consonantal -w-. There is no difference between -v-
and -u- in the Latin alphabet -V- was the upper-case way of writing -

> <<Finally, I think that <bacc> is a shepherd's crook in Old Irish.
Perhaps a
> shepherd's revolt?>>
> Christopher Gwinn REPLIED:
> <<Highly unlikely>>
> Actually I can't see how it's any less likely than <the Irish
words bag
> "combat", and
> bagach "combative", as well as Middle(?) Welsh kymwy (*com-bag-
> and likely meant something like "combatants".> If we take the
Romans' word
> on it, for even a moment, the word meant peasant in some way --
not combatant.

It's unlikely because a Gaulish equivalent would have been recorded
as *bacc-, and not bag-/bac-.

> But also I have trouble finding anything that quite matches <bag>
combat in
> later Celtic.

So what? It certainly existed in Old Irish.

> And the Gaulish Glossary says "Old Irish: ba'gaim 'I fight'", but
not one
> whole <bag> word meaning "fight" or "combat" shows up in any of
the on-line
> Celtic dictionaries, including McBain's etymological -- though
there are
> plenty of other good fight words. (e.g., Early Irish <comlann>

Well, why don't you find yourself a copy of the Dictionary of the
Irish Language (DIL), and stop relying on incomplete and outdated
online dictionaries? I guarantee you that bag and its derivative
bagach are in there.

> So <bacc> is really looking better than ever to me. After all,
what would
> most peasants fight with? A spike, a crook? And by the way -
what peasant
> revolt in history ever named itself the "combatants"? Is that
about as
> generalized as you can get?

Steve, that is naive.

Chris Gwinn