Brown

Why is brown the only common colour that doesn’t have a unique Welsh spelling?

I think it already conforms to the Welsh orthography, so it doesn’t need a different spelling. It is the only one I can think of that isn’t a completely different word, too.

Because it’s a borrowing from English and as M2017 said, already conforms to Welsh spelling.

Brown things in Welsh would traditionally have been described as either red or grey, or on occasion, yellow (brown bread/sugar = bara/siwgwr coch, brown paper = papur llwyd, brown shoe = esgid felen), although there are a handful of more obscure/poetic/literary words too such as gwinau, dugoch, cochddu.

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Out of curiosity, when did the Welsh begin to adopt English words in order to fill the gaps? How far back in time are we talking?

It’s been going on for at least a few hundred years. One often cited example is the verb licio/leicio, which some people see as a modern abomination of Wenglish, when in fact its first documented appearance in a Welsh text was in 1609.

And some words only appear on the surface as English imports, when in reality they came to both English and Welsh from other languages, like from Latin or Greek.

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Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru gives the date for ‘brown’ entering the Welsh language as 1830, but as Hendrik said, others were absorbed long before.

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As far back as English has existed, I’d say (because of course Welsh is older). According to the Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (and they will know far more about it than I do) the word “ffordd” comes from an English word (ford); “sut” comes from the English word “suit”. All languages do this sort of borrowing and always have done.

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I didn’t know about ‘sut’! But don’t forget ‘betws’ (from English bede-house, for counting your paternoster beads while saying your prayers). And ‘broga’ :slight_smile:

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Www, a couple of great ones there - thanks! I’ll squirrel those ones away for the next time I have this conversation (and there will be a next time :wink: )

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I have a vague memory from university (tbh I have a lot of vague memories from university!) that rhostio (from the English ‘to roast’) was first used by the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym in the early14th century.
Probably not the most useful nugget I could have gleaned from a 4-year course, but a nice bit of trivia if I have remembered correctly! :grin:

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And of course Welsh is preserving some words that have now disappeared from English. “Sicr” from “Sicker” is an interesting one - although I think it is still in Scotts and possibly/possibly not German, whence it came. Tsampion and Camp (original meaning) also spring to mind.

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@ sicrhau: also still present in Dutch (as “zeker”)
Same for ”betws” - “gebedshuis” is still used (occasionally) as place of worship.

I adore spotting this kind of etymologies: not only are they very interesting, but they also make words easier to remember

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Yes, it’s still used - sicher

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I did a thread a while ago on those kinds of revelations. I think one of my favourites is disgyn (northern for ‘to fall’) coming from Latin descendere, like English ‘descend’. I guess descents tend to be pretty rapid when you live among mountains… Connections with other languages

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