herman newt: doing the dum

dum dee dame di damh

we’ve managed to bail up dum and s/he’s consented to be interviewed.

first of all there are two ways of arriving at dum if you’re an evoluting syllable:

(1) via dun which belongs to a complex including the english –don, -den, -dene, town, dane, and -ton, etc., and the irish duine (person), the cornish den (man, person) and (mumble muffle humble mumble – i haven’t learnt any welsh yet so what the hell do i think i’m doing saying anything about it at all) probably something or other in (keh! keh!) welsh, too (heh! heh!), and it may have become the dum of dumfries and dumbarton, both in scotland, one on the clyde and the other on the nith, to accommodate the following labial, although god knows why it would – it didn’t in dunbar, dunblane, or dunfermline; or

(2) via a common ancestor with the english dame meaning a ((once noble)) woman, the irish damh (and we’re north enough for goidelic gaelic to have had a spear in this cauldron) meaning a noble person or a stag, and the ancienter tome which my cherished copy of the shorter ogsfort dictionary – gasp, sorry, i did mean to ay ox ford ha ha, of course there’s an ox-ford there, isn’t there. wouldn’t not be, would there? deirim é, no! oxen everywhere, i’m sure. i mean if i were alive in the olden days and i wanted to refer to the biggest and most famous education centre in my world, well i’d just refer to a nearby feature like the place where the oxen could drag their drays across the river, i would, i mean even then it wouldn’t have been worth one’s career (and, heh heh, i use the term loosely, nay, hilariously) to mention ogs as if anything so unbritish, so, well, goidelic, could have been happening that close to l’ógres, (the og-eries) would it, and rightly so, for who would let anything as fork-bearded and bandy-legged put little golden crowns on the heads of sweet little english children? no! never! there were never any ogres in l’ogres! and no, wouldn’t of been a fort, feic, no!, forts are ancient and ‘we’ KNOW the date of the establishment of oxford, don’t ‘we’? much later, wasn’t it, i mean before the romans, there wasn’t even roads, let alone education (now will you let me off the rack, torturer? o thank you, thank you, and yes, i’ll remember that in future, it just really was an ox ford, and yes, i must remember to put off indefinitely that search i keep trying unsuccessfully online for an actual photo of the very ford referred to.)

(psst, if anyone is actually reading this blog, any help with this search would be much appreciated. fair dinkum, i’m sure they’ve got themselves covered, but where can i find a map showing the exact or most likely location of, or a photograph of this famous ford?)

sorry, everyone, i had to step outside for a moment. where were we? oh yes, dum.

now without getting to intimate with each one of them, i’ll run past you a quick list of words and bits of words that you might like to consider as possible cognates, derivatives, ancestors, or near rellies of dum. tome, domesday, doom, etym, thomas, thames, times, tem(ple), tim(othy), tam(sin), dam(son) dem(oiselle), team, dam, dumb, dump and through damh, dauph(in), daphne, dove, duffer, duff, dubh, daves, deves, devon, david, davies, davis, devil, dover, ooh and there’s mobs more, but as you can see you do have to leave england, because it’s ‘ancient and cold’ and yea verily, noble as all get out!

yet here we are in good ol’ england, witnessing their marriage with england’s tweed trade (which was world-famous before julius even thought of incarnating as a cathar – pronounced caes-ar where th’s are too hard for you – let alone a roman), perhaps even the mass-marriage of all of the lasses eligible to be brides of one with all the likely lads of the other. tweed-all to dum.

(did i mention dumnorix?)

now glancing over that list and taking off the fleeting impressions that arise, pressing them firmly between pages of a book and mounting them on clean white card-board, you get a sense of a very ancient people going back to where dome still equalled home, which was possibly in the steppes somewhere, where nomads used to use mammoth tusks, but hey, there’re other ways of building domes – look at that of st peters, or the modified domes of the islamic mosques, and besides, tombs are probably in there somewhere, and so tomb-dome-home builders, who stored their written history in thick, sheep-skin parchment books of great weight of which the doomsday book is a surviving example (or do we all have to pretend all the data’s in for that one and there’s no need to revise it? domes de is more likely to mean tomes doers and i could prove it with reference to the anglo-saxon rune poem, but (keh, keh) it’s probably not worth my career…

they are right into literacy, education and so on, so we know they’re post roman, because the romans introduced literacy to the britons when prasto took the toga, didn’t they. umm, look, thames means tomes. st thomas, dame schools, temples, all mean literacy, and what’s more, mighty intense population monitoring. we’ll not ask here what boots it that my dame hath a lame tame crane, but flick an eyelash at it if you like and it’ll do you no harm. she was a neat, figure, bonneted, booted and buckled, and mostly not a horsewoman – she got about not much and on foot. perhaps she was forthright, if not quite a tomboi. and look, she would beg to differ with me concerning the etymology of the word dee. for although there is no doubt that dee was a very inferior creature at the time of the quarrel, it is as true that he had become so, having come from as noble a lineage as her own (poor dumb thomas and simple tom agreed, and she would and they would never marry into any lineage that was not worthy), for te, tea and dee, and yea the de of domes de too are all forms of tow(er), also spelt tiw, or tiw(as), and all ultimately from dor, terr, and the like. that’s such a biggy, i’ll leave it for now. but you’ve met the dame, and she’ll explain to us next time about tweedle’s specific dum and perhaps we’ll have a peep into the tower, tiw, terr complex, because, don’t choke on your egg n-óg, gilbert, but i think there we’ll find god.

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