Monday, 10 August 2009

Drambuie and Buddha

Drambuie is a delicious Scottish whisky liqueur. According to the label, the name comes from the Scots Gaelic an dram buidheach "the drink that satisfies". Dram is "drink" and buidheach is "satisfied". Buidheach is from Old Irish buide "thanks, satisfaction". According to Pokorny, this is from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeudʰ- "to be aware". However, Matasovic disagrees:

I fail to see the semantic connection to the root *bʰudʰ- 'wake, be conscient' (Skt. budhyate, etc.) proposed by some linguists.

In any case, *bʰeudʰ- became Sanskrit budh "to awake", and बुद्ध buddha "awaked, expanded, intelligent".

I'd thought that dram was borrowed into English from Gaelic, but the English word is actually from French drachme, from Greek δραχμή drakhmē, the drachma, the ancient Greek coin (perhaps from *dergʰ- "to grasp"). In English it came to mean a measurement of fluid, then a small draught of cordial. I don't know the origin of the Gaelic word.

1 comment :

Cailliomachas said...

The Gaelic 'dram' almost certainly came from the English. However, I have a problem with the official translation of 'drambuie' as 'the dram that satisfies'. 'Buidheach' usually refers to people: 'bi buidheach': be thankful, be happy, be satisfied. Is it possible that the Gaelic original was 'an dram buidhe' (the yellow dram)? Or even 'an dram buadhach/buaidheach': dram of special quality. I don't speak the Gaelic of Scotland and am consequently nervous about making these suggestions. But they do give us two more Old Irish words to play around with: 'buide' (yellow) and 'buaid' (victory, special quality, virtue).