William Sayers. Speculations on Substratum Influence on Early English Vocabulary: pig, colt, frog.     page(s): 159-172


Three English animal names, pig, colt, and frog, all without fully satisfactory etymologies, are selected for study on the basis of contextual qualifiers that they have in common. All belong to the familiar domestic sphere of life on the land. Two of these unexplained words once shared morphological features that may be relevant to questions of register and affect. Strikingly, for each there is tantalizing evidence of having been assumed by Germanic peoples from adjacent Celtic populations. Pig is traced to Gaulish moccos and the amply documented material and cultural exchanges across the Rhine between Celts and Germans. Among the descendants of the adapted term would have been an Old Saxon form that developed as Old English picga. Colt represents a more direct transfer in Britain, again possibly of a trade commodity, between the invading Angles and Saxons, and the resident Britons, who spoke a Celtic language, Brittonic. Gaulish caballos suggests a starting point for a hypothetical Brittonic equivalent, kappal-, complemented by a diminutive suffix with –t-. Frog, it is proposed, originated in a Brittonic agent noun meaning ‘croaker’, related to Gaulish frognā, Welsh ffroen, and Breton fron, ‘nose, nostril’, that coalesced, semantically and phonologically, in Britain with Germanic frosc, whose literal meaning would have been ‘hopper’.       
Keywords:  English etymology, lexical loans, colt, frog, pig