LINGUIST List 3.78

Sat 25 Jan 1992

Qs: Speech Synthesis, Errors, Celtic Etymology

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Sharon Cote, speech synthesis query
  2. Ron Smyth, Speech Errors
  3. "Dana Paramskas :", Celtic etymology

Message 1: speech synthesis query

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 92 11:13:22 -0speech synthesis query
From: Sharon Cote <>
Subject: speech synthesis query

A friend of mine who works in public interest law asked me a
question which is not in my area of expertise (If I can be said to have
one :>). So, I'm posting the question to LINGUIST to see if any of you
can help him out. Please send your responses directly to him since he does
not subscribe to LINGUIST.

The question is:

How far is the state of the art in speech synthesis from being able to
take a small sample (say one or two minutes) of someone's recorded
voice, and then be able to synthesize any desired speech, in their
voice, such that it would be undetectable? In other words, how
far is the state of the art from being able to make it seem, based
on a small sample of someone's voice, that they had said things that
they had in fact not said at all?

His email address is:

I will ask him to keep a file of all responses and mail it to anyone who
sends a request.

Sharon Cote
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Speech Errors

Date: Fri, 24 Jan 1992 14:31:56 Speech Errors
From: Ron Smyth <>
Subject: Speech Errors

One of our graduate students is looking for speech error corpora. Are there
any publicly available data bases? Please reply to me directly.
Ron Smyth
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Celtic etymology

Date: Sat, 25 Jan 1992 02:59:51 Celtic etymology
From: "Dana Paramskas :" <>
Subject: Celtic etymology

I recently joined a list called CAMELOT which deals with all
aspects of topics related to Arthurian mythology /Matter of Britain
cycle. Reading through the archives, I noticed a discussion
concerning the etymology of place names. There do not seem to be
any historical linguists on the list, so the discussion became,
necessarily, somewhat disjointed and died out, to the probable
disappointment of the members. If any experts on the matter care
to take an interest, I'm appending the relevant parts here, with
the hope that I can forward any comments resulting to the
CAMELOT list. In the discussion which is appended, one member
dominates; other participants are prefixed with >

The etymology of the word Arran or
variations thereof has fascinated me for some time. Arran must come from the
same Indo-European root as "Aryan" "Erin" "Arawn" etc. Almost unbelievably,
the word exists in some form in every known Indo-European language. It
apparently means "free" or something like, of a higher class than slaves, or
something about the caste system. However, in even the earliest Indo-
European sources, it also indicates a god who is in some way connected with
the underworld "Aryman" et. al. This would certainly be an appropriate name
for the isle of the dead etc. or the island where the dead are buried. I
have been interested to know why & how the word for "free" equates with the
name of an underworld god in the Proto-Indo-European language, but have
never seen anything on it. Further, most of the sources I have read draw the
connections between "Aryaman" "Aryman" "Aryan" and "Erin" but I have never
seen anyone mention "Arawn" (the god of the underworld or otherworld in the
Mabinogian) in this connection, even tho it obviously equates.

Still, I am curious. I would think that Arran would be the older name and
Avalon would be a newer version, tho I have never looked into the etymology
of Avalon. Does anyone else know?

However, considering the proto-Indo-European connections here, I don't think
the existence of a mysterious and magical island connected with death and
rebirth in Scotland, even one which later came to be called Avalon, would
place Arthurian myth there. There could easily be more than one. The
Mabinogion says Arawn reigns in Annwn (or Annwfn), and although I don't know
the pronunciation of the word (I don't speak Gaelic in any form), I do know
that v's easily become w's and vice versa. Could this term be related to
Avalon? In any case, it could easily be the term for the underworld or land
of the dead and be placed separately according to each Celtic culture or
society. In a brief introduction to Tales of King Arthur (an illustrated
and heavily edited edition of Mallory) Michael Senior claims that Geoffrey
of Monmouth found the term Avalon in a French source and that from the 12th
century onward it was associated with Glastonbury. He goes on to say that
Glastonbury was an ancient religious center, basically an island at this time,
and that it was customary to bury the dead across a strip of water. When the
flooding was reduced, perhaps this caused Malory to describe Avalon as a
'vale'. He concludes that the name Avalon stems from an ultimate Celtic
source, but considering the connections with the Arran/Arawn etc. lord of the
underworld, I would guess the term stems from an even older proto-Indo-
European source, and therefore almost impossible to place at any _single_ site.

>I have heard Avalon translated Apple-isle in a number of sources; if this is
>accurate, it would remove it from the etymological connection you were

>Personally, I find the Aryan Arawn connection suspect, it strikes me as
>Gravesianism (the connecting of words because it makes for good poetry, then
>calling it scholarship); I do, however find the Erin Aryan connection
>plausible. It's the underworld tie that I don't see evidence for.

But, as long as we are going to discuss it, I must say that the
translation of the term as "apple-isle" does absolutely nothing to prove
or disprove an etymological connection between Avalon & anything else you
choose. Historical linguistics is a science which requires very specific
prerequisites for the determining of root words. A simple translation doesn't
come anywhere close to enough to do anything. I'm not an expert in this
field, but I have read many books on the subject and attempted to understand
them on my own, due to an interest and with a bias toward Indo-European
languages (meaning I admit to basically ignoring any other language group).
I don't have anywhere near enough information or knowledge to really discuss
the etymology of Avalon, however I can make a few comments on it. First of
all, it would be necessary to compare the word in all Indo-European languages
in which it is available. I don't know if the composite word is available
in any other base language (no comparison here -- if anyone knows how
many languages the word appears in, in a recognisable form, please list them
or send me an email of them, with sources, because I would be thrilled to
have this information :)) However, it is a compound word so it is possible
to divide it. Thus we have "apple" and "isle", or actually "aval" and "on" or
"lon". I'm going to ignore "isle" here for space considerations, and because
it is the least interesting to me. If you are really interested in all this
send me an email and I'll do my best to find "isle" and variations as well.
>From A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European
Languages by Carl Darling Buck, for "apple" we have:

Latin: malum, Italian: mela, French: pomme, Spanish: manzana,
Rumanian: mdr, Irish: ubull, New Irish: ubhall, Welsh: afal, British:
aval, Gothic: apel, Old Norse: epli, Danish: able, Swedish: apple,
Old English: aeppel, Middle English: appel, New English: apple, Dutch:
appel, Old High German: apful, Middle High German: apfel, New High German:
apfel, Lithuanian: obuolys, Lettic: abuols, Church Slavic: jabluko,
Serbo-Croatian: jabuka, Bohemian: jablko, Polish: jablko, Russian: jabloko
and a word in Greek and New Greek which the author puts in in the original
alphabet (with deltas & pi's etc.) which I am not capable of translating, and
have no idea how to do the proper symbols in ascii. I have also left out all
the accent marks etc. for the same reason. The author then goes on to state:
"Most of the words for 'apple' belong to a single group, the ultimate source
of which is obscure." And he mentions that the words which start with "m",
namely the Greek and Latin, are the general terms for "fruit" as well as
the unusual French "pomme" from Latin "pomum" and says "orig. dub., loanword?"
from the entry for "fruit". Now I am totally incapable of deriving the
proto-Indo-European root from that though I assume that a true historical
linguistic scholar could make an educated guess. However, I understand, from
Historical Linguistics, An Introduction by Winfred P. Lehmann that "p" or
"b" becomes "v" (I think) and that "v" and "w" are almost interchangeable
in various languages (like German) tho "w" may be the original written form
and "v" the original pronunciation...I am not sure about this. The
comparative sound changes confuse me somewhat. (I wish someone who knew how
would do this word). Anyway, this apparently leaves us with an "ap" or "ab"
root word (or "ub" or "jab", but I am not going to get any further carried
away here...I think "u" goes to "a" as well, but really don't know, and I
have no idea where the "j" comes from). The Historical Linguistics book also
says that "...Examples in a wide variety of dialects to support the
reconstruction of PIE [Proto-Indo-European] "b" do not exist..." so one
assumes that "p" is the more likely source but "b" is a possibility. The
American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots edited by Calvert Watkins
lists only one of the "apple" terms, the Germanic "abel" (it is a book of
root words and "apple" is not a root -- it's compound). There is no "ab"
included (nor is there a "jab" or "j" anything for that matter...and the "up"
words lead to words like up or upwards or height etc.) For "ap" we have:
"To take, reach" examples "Apt, Aptitude, Attitude"; "to attain" example
"Adept"; "top, summit" example "Apex" and a prefixed form that gives Copulate
and Couple "co-ap" "bond, tie, or link"; a possibility in "ap-mentum"
"something tied". These last two are interesting when considering the ties
of the Indian/Persian god Aryman/Ahriman to marriage, btw. AND...most
interestingly (skip the rest and read this)...Definition 2: "ap" "water,
river" from Iranian "ap" and Persian "ab" "water". The water connections
and Indo-European mythology are fascinating and it is found everywhere!!
(elf/alf has some connection with water, fee, the lady in the lake, the
pre-christian wells, the obscure connections with the most magical &
interesting Indian gods etc.) Maybe I should just study water :). Now all
this can lead to lots of interesting things (look up "wer" sometime and
see how everything from Ward to Vertebra et. al. & werewolf etc., btw, comes
from a basic "to turn, bend" :)...
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue