St. David’s Day

Yesterday (March 1st) was the first of this year’s Saint’s Days of the Lands of the British Isles: Saint David, patron saint of Wales. Land of the leek and the daffodil and the Red Dragon national flag (see my 3/1/12 posting “Take a leek” for some discussion of these symbols).

Still to come: St. Patrick (Ireland, March 17th, the shamrock); St. George (England, April 23rd, the rose); and, much later, St. Andrew (Scotland, November 30th, the thistle).

(Legend has it that in a battle against the Saxons in a leek field, St. David ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing a leek on their helmets.)

Here’s the Welsh leek, as displayed by Fluellen:

On Fluellen, from Wikipedia:

Fluellen is a fictional character in the play Henry V by William Shakespeare. Fluellen is a Welsh Captain, a leader of a contingent of troops in the small army of King Henry V of England while on campaign in France during the Hundred Years’ War. He is a comic figure, whose characterisation draws on stereotypes of the Welsh at that time, but he is also portrayed as a loyal, brave and dedicated soldier.

On the name Fluellen: this is one anglicization (of several) of the Welsh name Llewellyn, which begins (in Welsh) with the very non-English consonant [ɬ], a voiceless lateral produced with considerable friction noise; that friction noise is what appears as the English fricative [f] — followed by the laterality, in the English lateral [l]. That is, the noisy Welsh [ɬ] is split into a fricative part and a lateral part, in English [fl].

(The most common anglicization is just to replace the Welsh voiceless lateral with the English voiced lateral, losing the frication.)

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