nGéadal

nGéadal (Ngéadal or Ngeadal) is the Irish name of the thirteenth letter of the Ogham alphabet, ᚍ.

Aicme Beithe Aicme Muine
[b] Beith [m] Muin
[l] Luis [ɡ] Gort
[w] Fearn [ɡʷ] nGéadal
[s] Sail [st], [ts], [sw] Straif
[n] Nion [r] Ruis
Aicme hÚatha Aicme Ailme
[j] Uath [a] Ailm
[d] Dair [o] Onn
[t] Tinne [u] Úr
[k] Coll [e] Eadhadh
[kʷ] Ceirt [i] Iodhadh
Forfeda (rare, sounds uncertain)
[k], [x], [eo] Éabhadh
[oi] Ór
[ui] Uilleann
[p], [io] Ifín [p] Peith
[x], [ai] Eamhancholl

The Bríatharogam (kennings) for the letter are:

  • lúth lego "sustenance of a leech"
  • étiud midach "raiment of physicians"
  • tosach n-échto "beginning of slaying"

Its meaning is probably "[the act of] wounding". In Old Irish, the letter name was Gétal. It may be a verbal noun of gonid 'wounds, slays'. in which case is related to Welsh gwanu 'to pierce, to stab', which comes from the root was *gʷhen- 'to pierce, to strike'. Its original phonetic value in Primitive Irish was [ɡʷ], the voiced labiovelar. In Old Irish, this phoneme merged with g (gort), and the medieval manuscript tradition assigns it Latin ng [ŋ], hence the unetymological spelling of the letter name with initial n-.

ReferencesEdit

  • Damian McManus, Irish letter-names and their kennings, Ériu 39 (1988), 127-168.