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

From: Christopher Gwinn
Message: 16320
Date: 2002-10-17

> <<Having said that, I should note that Latin and Greek authors
> pretty good at recording Gaulish words and names - we don't find
> nearly the amount of corruption that you seem to imply>>
> But how would you know? It's one thing to talk about full Gaulish
> It's another to talk about place names and individual words like

We know because we have words and names written by Gaulish people
themselves that match up pretty well with forms recorded by
classical authors. Yes, there were mistakes committed in written
texts, and yes there were spelling variations (-i- written for -e-, -
g- alternating with -c- after a liquid, etc), but overall we see
more regularity than irregularity in the transmission of names.

> Our historical experience with 'pre-literate' names coming through
a literate
> language just does not show this kind of regularity. In fact,
> languages just do not show this type of regularity with names and
> (Although, in saying that, I'm not sure that Gaulish was a
> language. Caesar claims that the Gauls wrote -- but in Greek.)

Well, Caesar says they used the Greek alphabet for writing (which is
amply attested), not that the Gauls wrote in Greek.

> Christopher Gwinn writes:
> <<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.>>
> But on the other hand the fact that neither *boxt- nor *boct-
appears in any
> Gaulish form might also suggest that this expected form was not
the form
> actually used for a common word like "poor" or "peasant".

That is a ridiculous statement. Gaulish is an incompletely attested
language - were are missing thousands of vocabulary words that
surely existed.

> Now, I don't know why *boxt- or *boct- would be expected, but I
suspect, if
> something like it did mean "peasant" in some form or dialect of
Gaulish --
> which presumably did have internal variance over all those
centuries -- it
> would have been surprising for Romans to report it as "bocht".
I'm not sure
> how the Romans would have heard or written "bocht" or "boch't",
but such
> sounds would probably have been made discrete syllables or they
would have
> been unpronounceable for the Romans.

The forms that I suggested, *boxt- or *boct- are precisclt how a
Latin author would have recorded them - compare Irish bricht "magic"
to Gallo-Latin Brixta/Bricta.

> Christopher Gwinn writes:
> <<Well, why don't you find yourself a copy of the Dictionary of
> Irish Language (DIL), and stop relying on incomplete and outdated
> online dictionaries? I guarantee you that bag and its derivative
> bagach are in there.>>
> I will do you the courtesy of doing that as soon as I can get over
to the
> library. But I do hope that I don't find that <bag> and <bagach>
are not
> actually attested but are instead reconstructed or interpreted
based on
> <bagaudae>. That would be a severe disappointment.

Steve, please. If the word was a reconstruction, I would have
written it as *bag. The word is attested.

- Chris Gwinn