The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 17, 2011

December 17, 1915

Sir John Rhys ( June 21, 1840 to December 17, 1915) was a native of Wales, and scholar of the Celtic language. He became the first Professor of Celtic at Oxford University, in 1876. He also maintained an interest in improving the educational system in the British Isles, and was knighted in 1907. Some of his books include:
Lectures on Welsh Philology (1877)
Celtic Britain (1882 )
Celtic Heathendom (1886).

Of interest to us now is a footnote in his book, Celtic folklore: Welsh and Manx, (1901).
His purpose in this book  is to illuminate the medieval Welsh stories in the Mabinogian, which he accomplishes by gathering recent tellings of old folk tales. In one instance there is a puzzling translation of the Welsh, a place name, which he glosses in this manner:

This is commonly pronounced 'Y Gath Dorwen,' but the people of the neighbourhood wish to explain away a farm name which could, strangely enough, only mean ' the white-bellied cat'; but y Garth Dorwen, 'the whitebellied garth or hill,' is not a very likely name either.

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