Tag Archives: Etymology

Five Useful Scottish Words

Scotland is a picturesque country where the people are friendly yet completely incomprehensible. Adam Schlesinger Setting aside Scots accents, which most people manage to tune into after fairly short exposure, it’s the vocabulary of Scottish English which is the main source of incomprehension for visitors. Some Scots words are easily translated: to swither is to … Continue reading Five Useful Scottish Words

Alba: Part 2

In my previous post about this word, I described how the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland, Alba, originated in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European albho-, meaning “white”. In Proto-Celtic, this evolved into another word something like albiyu. This word seems to have meant something like “bright place” or “high place”, and in the later Celtic languages Brittonic and Goidelic (spoken on the islands of Britain and Ireland, respectively) it produced place-names that ended up as Alba, Albion and Albany. Likewise in the Germanic languages, albho- gave rise to a “high place” word that gives us the name of the Alps mountain range.