Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/284

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NOTES AND QUERIES, [ii s. XL APML 10, IQI&


is a bretoun, but, as oun is a diminutive ending, bret is the usual word. Conversely, of one whose tongue is well hung, it is said es pas bret. This is no modern word ; it occurs in stories of the twelfth century, as does curiously the word bretona, a vain hope, as that of the Bretons expecting the return of King Arthur. In the mediaeval romance of ' Flamenca ' the heroine talks with her maidens que ges non son follas ni bertas, " who are not giddy nor stammerers." Here there is the metastasis of r so common in the " lengo d'O."

The French equivalent of bretouneja was bretonner, a word surviving in "la Bretagne bretonnante," the part of Brittany where the people continue to speak the Celtic language unintelligible in the other parts of the province. The modern form of this word is bredouiller, of which Littre could only say that it seemed to be from a radicle berd or bret.

In etymology nearly every find gives the scent of another ; and bargouneja, to jabber, to jaw, points to a connexion with bar go, bar jo, the jaw. This noun having no root in any of the Romance languages, one may infer that it is derived from the verb, and with all the more confidence that the proper word for " jaw " is maisso, L. maxilla. Indeed, bar go is itself the starting-point of a number of words. It takes, with metas- tasis of r, the form brego, brejo, having both the material and figurative senses of " jaw,"

  • ' lip " ; in sense 1 it is sometimes specifically

the jaw of an ass ; in sense 2 it is power of jaw, loquacity, quarrelsomeness, as in the proverb " dous Hard de pas valon cent franc de brego" (a farthing of peace is worth a hundred francs of jaw).

From brego ramify two groups of words. Sense 1 carries the force of material grind- ing or crushing, whence the verb brega, Fr. broyer, which, keeping the true French sound of oy, oi, became Eng. " bray," as to bray flax ; also the nouns brigo, breco, bricoun, that which is crushed, crumbs ; the last also becoming a nega- tive, represented in French by ne...mie, not a crumb, nothing. From the use of brigo for a fragment came brico, Fr. brique (Littre), Eng. " brick," assimilated to a fragment of building-stone or of a loaf. Another derivative of brego is briganeu, the lip or wash-board of a boat. There may have been a form barganeu, now disappeared. It is possible, then, that " barge," first in French, then in English, meant a boat with wash-boards ; the term " barge-boards " for similar boards on a gable would support


this view. In a verse of 'Mireio' Mistral uses briganeu for a river fishing-boat.

From sense 2 there was a similar evolution of words : bregous, quarrelsome, med. L, brigosus, leading to brigo, Fr. brigue, origin- ally "quarrel," "contest"; to bregado f It. brigata, a party of brawlers or marauders, now a troop; to bregantin, a pirate-galley all evolved from brego. This evolution is sup- ported by bargouneja having a synonym, not only in bretouneja, but also in brigadeleja (from sense 1), to splutter, as one whose mouth is full of brigadeu, porridge of crushed corn another instance of the feeling of the civilized lowland folk towards Bretons or hill-folk.

From bar go (2) also are derived barfa r to jaw, chatter, brag ; barya, to strut, brag ,- braguetian, an itinerant quack, medical or political ; and blaga, Fr. blaguer.

Thus brego is the link connecting with the Breton source the various words which have given us " bargain," " jargon," " bray,' r "breach," " brick," " barge "(?), "brigade,'" "brigantine," "brig," "brag." Ml

This etymological story may not only be of interest, but may also show the need for lexicographers to take deeper notice of the central language of the Romance group. The means of investiga- tion must be largely through Mistral's ' Tresor dou Felibrige ' ; but this, as its name implies, is intended for those who have a sufficient knowledge of the living language of Southern France ; without that knowledge- it is of little use to either English or Franchi- man inquirer.

SCHEME OP EVOLUTION.

Bretoun. bret. v. bretouneja, Fr. bretonner, bredouiller.

Bara gwyn.

baragouin, bargouin.

v. barguigna, Fr. barguigner, Eng. bargain* v. bargouneja. v. jargouneja, Fr. and Eng. jargon.

bargo, barjo.

brego 1 and 2.

1. v. brega, Fr. broyer, Eng. bray.

breco, Fr. breche, Eng.'&reac/t. brigadeu. v. brigadeleja.

brico, bricoun, Fr. brique, Eng. brick* breganeu, O.F. and Eng. barge (?).

2. v. brega, Fr. brailler, Eng. bray.

bregous, Fr. brigue.

bregado, Fr. and Eng. brigade, brigand,

bregantin, Eng. brigantine, brig.

v. braga, Fr. braguer, Eng. brag.

v. blaga, Fr. blaguer, blague.

EDWARD NICHOLSON, lies Cycas, Cannes.