Pronunciation matters

Alaís‘ name can either be pronounced /ˈæl.ɪs/ as in Alice, from Old High German Adalheidis (adal, “noble” + -heit, “nature, character”) the titular character of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as well as Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There; a key example of the Girls Underground archetype

Or /aˈlajs/ as in Old French lai (“song”), from Old Frankish *laik, *laih (“play, melody, song”), from Proto-Germanic *laikaz, *laikiz (“jump, play, dance, hymn”), from Proto-Indo-European *loig-, *(e)laiǵ- (“to jump, spring, play”). Akin to Old High German leih (“a play, skit, melody, song”), Middle High German leich (“piece of music, epic song played on a harp”) and Gothic 𐌻𐌰𐌹𐌺𐍃 (laiks, “a dance.”)

Appropriate considering her son’s name signifies “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Völuspá). Additionally óðr can mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, with connotations of “inspired, possession”. It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and related to Gothic wôds (“raging”, “possessed”), Old High German wuot (“fury” “rage, to be insane”) and the Anglo-Saxon words wód (“fury”, “rabies”) and wóð (“song”, “cry”, “voice”, “poetry”, “eloquence”). Old Norse derivations include œði “strong excitation, possession.” Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt– “to fan.”

Óðr being the son of Óðinn certainly clears up a number of scholarly theories that have been circulating.

3 thoughts on “Pronunciation matters

  1. While Old Irish fáith does figuratively mean “poet,” it is more literally “prophet,” whereas the usual word for “poet” is fili, which literally means “seer.”


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