Friday, 11 December 2009


The experts tell me that the word 'thane' (as in "All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis!/All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!") is an anglicisation of the Gaelic word "Taoiseach". But I don't see that at all. The two words have no phonemes in common at all; not an initial 't' (T/TH), not a vowel (AY/EE and OH), not a consonant (N/SH and K). How would you possibly get from one to the other?

Unless it's an obscure English joke ...

1 comment:

Gareth Rees said...

It's a joke. OED says Scots "thane" is from Old Saxon "thegan" (cognate with Old English "þeȝn") meaning "boy, servant, warrior, hero".