How old is English?











Etymology of German tribes


*bona is related to the modern German word Bühne (theatre stage, plank floor); A raised plank floor was a necessity if one wanted to preserve grain from rotting by contact with the moist ground. Bona's main use was for a granary and is to be found in Germanic only. The word has been (see the previous chapter: circular logic) nevertheless added to the Celtic dictionary, as it was supposed to be Celtic, with the meaning 'good', 'settlement'.

Bonna or Bonn is located upon the Rhine in modern Germany. A common granary along a big river is common sense.

Bructeri: probably 'burgh' + suffix '-ter'. One has 'brough' and 'burgh'.  The '-ter, -er' suffix is also found in e.g. walker. Bructeri  means 'burgh people', where burgh does NOT refer to a possibly fenced place one a imaginary hill but to a protected, possibly fenced, people.

Cherusci: Most etymologists agree that the leading 'Ch' is a Latin translation of a strong 'H', so Herusci is closer to the real name. The Romans had translators when they invaded Germany and once a tribal name was noted then it stayed 'for ever' fixed in its initial form. The reason for that is that 'Rome' was not prepared to change tribal names every now and then. Too confusing. The problem is that these translators not always had sufficient knowledge of the various German dialects. That probably made interpretation errors inevitable and besides, the Romans cared the least. Classic is the confusion about the -er ending. German has words with an -er ending in singular mode, but uses -er often as a plural indication. For instance: Mann -> Männer. I believe that the first part of Cherusci is Heru- and the last part sci. The Heru- part is hari, meaning army. The second part sci is in reality schehr. A German sch is pronounced close to sh in English as in 'rush'. The -ehr ending was confused by the Roman interpreters with a plural, so they translated it without. Schehr became scus in singular Latin and sci in plural. A Scher is akin to English share, a part of a larger whole. The complete German word was Hari-Schehr, meaning subgroup of the army. In modern German that would be Heerschar, an obsolete word nowadays. Google translates this word simply as 'army'. This etymology is a guess, of course. Wikipedia tells us that "The etymological origin of the name Cherusci is not known with certainty." and that speculation is going on since the sixteenth century. However, my etymology fits with the etymologies of German and Saxon. Both are exonyms referring to belligerent bands and so is most probably the Heerschehr.

Saxon: 'Sak(e)s', the 's' is possibly an inflexion. Old Saxon: saka; Old High German: sahha (German: Sache); Old Frisian: seke, sake, OE: sacu (NE: sake); Old Norse: sök ;
All meaning "cause, lawsuit, feod, complaint, issue, dispute, battle”), from Proto-Germanic *sako (idem), from Proto-Indo-European *sag- (“to investigate”). The second part could be 'son'. The (German) Saxons must have been known to their southern neighbours as looters and troublemakers. This corresponds greatly with the meaning of German: 'gear'(trusting spear)-man. The etymology of the word Saxon explains why they did not have a good reputation and why in north and middle Britain the more neutral word 'Angles' was preferred. The word Saxon had in Old English the very same meaning as in the rest of the Germanic world. Litus Saxonum can thus be translated as 'troublemakers coast'. In proto-English the word Saxon did not refer specifically to the north Germans. The word 'Saxon' was a synonym for the modern word Viking. The word Viking is a late, medieval word. Before it was 'Northman' (early Middle Ages) and before that it was Saxon. The latter was picked up in Latin.

Sicambri: Latin version of sic + camber. Sic is 'sich' (German) or 'zich' (Dutch). The word does not exist in English and is translated as 'oneself'. It refers to people 'themselves'. Camber is a German plural for 'cambe' = tooth, what sticks out. Hills are meant here. The equivalent in English is 'comb', as in Hillcomb and Barcomb (both hills are close to Hadrian's Wall). Therefore, Sicambri are 'people from the hills', or 'Hillbillies'.

Teutons: from Germanic 'deut-', compare: Deutsch, or 'Diet-' (Dutch) both meaning 'folk', people. The word 'Dutch' is derived from 'deut-'. Teutons are simply 'the people'.
What could be closely related is the word 'titans'. This word, meaning in ancient Greek 'the oldest gods', could have the same meaning. This could be an indication that 'deut-' initially referred to hunter-gatherers, the original people. The word persisted in proto-Germanic. After the arrival or agriculture, a new generation took over. This generation would then be represented by the classic Greek gods. The gods defeated the Titans. It reflects the fact that the hunter-gatherers' religion, which was taken over by the first farmers, was eventually replaced by a new religion which was more fancied by a later generation of farmers. Titans were forces of nature and were overwhelming, the 'new' gods were much more controllable, by means of sacrifices for instance. It refers to the fact that hunter-gatherers had no control over their food supply, while the farmers had on the contrary, more and more control.

Vindobona, modern Vienna, Austria is situated in the middle of a fertile plain and bang on the shore of the Danube river. Its location on a small hill is ideal for a common granary. "Vindo-" means slightly raised and "bona" is a granary. Compare: the supposed meaning in Celtic is 'white settlement'. Mediterranean style?