Hebrew Traces in Celtic Tongues
The idea that Welsh was at least partly derived from Hebrew has been circulating for more than 400 years. Hundreds, possibly thousands of books and booklets have been written and published on the subject.
Some of them are discussed in the work,
"Comparing Welsh-Hebrew" by Karel Jongeling (Netherlands, 2000).
The book is very technical but appears to point to the following conclusions:
All Celtic languages (the British Isles, France, maybe parts of Germany)
were preceded by an "Afro-Asiatic" substratum similar to Egyptian.
In the British Isles there was a direct Hebrew element which is especially apparent in Welsh.
In addition the overriding layer of the language was Eastern Indo-European
similar to tongues that once existed in Iran, Turkey, and Russia.
This layer was probably derived from historical contact.
[Earlier linguists found similarities between Insular Celtic and Latin.]
Karel Jongeling at the end of his work says that he himself does not believe in a connection between Welsh and Hebrew.
The impression from what he wrote, in my opinion, would lead one to the opposite conclusion, i.e. that there must be something there.
The work by Jongeling was published by an academic institution. He himself is widely respected as a scholar. His work is well regarded. He is employed by a leading university in the Netherlands.
If he had said what the evidence in his book could suggest, that there is a link between Welsh and Hebrew, we may guess what may have happened.
A writer who signed his name 'Glas' submitted a list of Welsh words with Hebrew origins in 1832. He remarked that,
.. The best proof of the Eastern descent of the ancient British is the close resemblance and connection existing between the Welsh and Hebrew languages, even at this day. As a proof of this we have extracted the following vocabulary of words in both tongues, so closely resembling each other in sound and sense as to leave no doubt whatever on the subject. Many of these words, it will be found, have been transmitted from the Welsh, through the Anglo-Saxon into our modern English. It would be easy to swell their number..
Some of the examples adduced by the above writer were:
Aml: Plentiful, ample = Hamale
Ydom: the earth = Adamah
Awye: air, sky = auor, or
bu: it came to pass = bo
boten, or potten : belly = beten.
brith: bright = barud
cas: hatred = caas (anger).
dafnu: to drop, or distill by drops = nataph, taph.
The affinity between Hebrew and Welsh was mentioned by a certain Dr. Davies (amongst others) and in the preface to his Welsh Grammar there was a poem to the effect that:
He gladly deigns his countrymen to teach,
By well-weigh d rules, the rudiments of speech ;
That when the roots first of our own we gain,
The Hebrew tongue we thence may soon attain.
The Rev. Eliezer Williams (b.1754) wrote several works on the Celts and made several remarks (quoted by Roberts p.23):
In the Hebrew...which the ancient British language greatly resembles...
The roots of most of the ancient British, or real Welsh, words may be regularly traced in the Hebrew..
Scarcely a Hebrew root can be discovered that has not its corresponding derivative in the ancient British language...But not only..the words...their variations and inflections afford a much stronger proof of affinity...The plural number of nouns likewise is often formed in a similar manner in the Celtic by adding in (a contraction of ים: i.e.-IM which is the suffix used in Hebrew to form the masculine plural)...in the formation of sentences, and in the government of words...the same syntax might serve for both.....
Davies in 'Mythology of the Ancient Druids' (p.94) asserts that Taleisin, the chief Bard, declares that his lore had been detailed in Hebraic...
See Also: Welsh and Hebrew
Anecdote: Jewish soldiers from "Palestine" who served in the British Army in the 1940s at times wished to spek with each other in Hebrew. It was not easily concenient to advertise their Jewishness so they would explain to the curious who overheard tham that they were speaking "Welsh"!