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A Glimpse through a Dirty Window into an Unlit House: Names of Some North-West European Islands

A Glimpse through a Dirty Window into an Unlit House: Names of Some North-West European Islands

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Title: A Glimpse through a Dirty Window into an Unlit House: Names of Some North-West European Islands
Author: Coates, Richard
Abstract: It is well known that many of the major island-names of the archipelago consisting politically of Ireland,
the United Kingdom and Crown dependencies are etymologically obscure. In this paper, I present and
analyse a corpus of those which remain unexplained or uncertainly explained, for instance 'Man' and 'Ynys
Môn', 'Ar(r)an', 'Uist', 'Seil', 'Islay', 'Mull', 'Scilly', 'Thanet', 'Sark', among others. It is timely to do this, since in the
disciplines of archaeology and genetics there is an emerging consensus that after the last Ice Age the
islands were repopulated mainly by people from a refuge on the Iberian peninsula. This opinion is at least
superficially compatible with Theo Vennemann’s Semitic and Vasconic hypotheses, i.e., that languages (a)
of the Afroasiatic family, and (b) ancestral to Basque, are important contributors to the lexical and
onomastic stock of certain European languages. The unexplained or ill-explained island names form a
sufficiently large set to make it worthwhile to hope for the emergence of some hard evidence bearing on
their collective linguistic heritage, and therefore to give – or fail to give – preliminary support to
Vennemann’s hypotheses.
Subject: Names of Islands
Names of North-West European Islands
Type: Article
Rights: The following articles are © 2009 with the individual authors. They are made available free of charge from this page as a service to the community under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivative Works license version 3.0. For full details go to http://creativecommons.org.licenses/ny-nd.3.0
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/3642
Published: York University
Citation: Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Onomastic Sciences
ISBN: 978-1-55014-521-2
Date: 2009

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