Thursday 8 December 2016


In Serbian and Croatian we have adjective "trom" which means:

moving with difficulty

It is implied that the slowness and sluggishness comes from heaviness. The word has an opposite meaning to words meaning springiness, lightness of movement, lightness.

In Makedonian we have word "tromav" which means cumbersome, clumsu. 

This word is, as far as i am aware, found only in these South Slavic languages.

And in Celtic languages.

Irish "trom"

of great weight, of high specific gravity, of heavy texture, stodgy, hard to digest, dense, thick, abundant, of great force or intensity, laborious, burdensome, grievous, severe, harsh, tyrannous
unsparing, sultry, oppressive, weighty, profound, important (heavy), dull, tedious, laboured, drowsy, deep, slumberous, oppressed, sad

Old Irish "trom"

heavy (weight), heavy, severe, grievous, difficult, sad, sorrowful, great, vast, powerful, mighty

Scottish Gaelic "trom"

heavy, hard, difficult, weighty, serious, depressed, melancholy, addicted (heavily into something), pregnant (with child)

Manx "trome"

heavy, substantial, dense, difficult, emphatic, intense, pregnant

Welsh "trwm"

literally and figuratively heavy

Apparently all these Celtic words come from Proto Celtic root "trummos" meaning heavy. 

Where does the Serbian word comes from then? 

I personally believe that it is a borrowing from Celtic languages. But how come we find this word only in Celtic languages and in Serbian (Croatian)? When was this word borrowed into Serbian (Croatian) and where? 


  1. TREMO,(galician): swollen; fatness

    1. Obviously derived from the same Celtic root. Thank you.

  2. Celtic is normally assumed to have a common root around the 8th century BCE, and arguably the linguistic stock of the Urnfield culture starting around the 12th century BCE might have shared some roots. But, if it is in all the Celtic languages, the root must have been present in those language by no later than the 8th century BCE.

    The Slavic language expansion starts around the 6th century CE, and probably doesn't reach the Balkans until a century or two later. By then, quite a few areas that were historically Celtic language speaking no longer speak Celtic languages, overtaken by Romance languages in the south, and by Germanic languages in the north. Admittedly, you only need one living Celtic language to be a source, but the Middle Ages aren't exactly the optimal time for the borrowing to happen. And, while the Normans simultaneously had a foothold in the British Isles and participated in the Crusades that would have brought them nearby, I don't recall that there were any linguistically Celtic units in the Crusades and if "Trom" is attested early enough in Old Church Slavonic, the Crusades might be too late.

    Any other scenario must involve "Trom" making it into the South Slavic languages but not other Slavic languages from a pre-Slavonic substrate exclusive to the Balkans which also pretty much must be the source from which both Sumerian and Serbian received the words mentioned in the previous post.

    How could Celtic words get into a Balkan substrate language? Well, regardless of the direction of linguistic borrowing, the proto-Celtic linguistic homeland, in Central Europe, is a lot closer to the Balkans than any of the Western European places where Celtic ended up being spoken. So, my money would be on the linguistic coincidences between Serbian and Irish dating to ca. 1000 BCE to 800 BCE somewhere in the geographic area from the Celtic linguistic homeland and Serbia, which may have all shared a linguistic subfamily of the Indo-European languages at the time for which Italo-Celtic is the principal surviving part.

    1. Yep. This is indeed the main question. When and where. If you look at my other posts no linguistic "coincidences" between Celtic and south Slavic languages, you will see that words shared by Celtic and South Slavic people are some of the oldest words found in Indoeuroean languages...Look at Celtic and Serbian words for male genitals in my post bo vo and how they relate to the word for cattle bo-vo and how all of it relates to the words for stabbing, poking, sticking one thing into another...

      Aren't these words supposed to come from the oldest language layers?

  3. Proto-Celtic is associated with the salt mining Hallstatt culture in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria you mention in your next post, where mining begins about 1500 BCE. Eyeballing it, it looks like that it about 600km from Southern Serbia, and Southern Serbia is on the path from the first rock salt mines in the Caucasus to Upper Austria.

    The Italic-Celtic break from PIE homeland languages is one of the earlier one (predating, for example, Greek and Indo-Iranian).

    One tricky part is that the Indo-European substrate of South Slavic is largely unattested. but I think that the evidence you are developing argues for putting them in the same branch as Pre-Proto-Italo-Celtic

    1. The paleo Balkan languages are "unattested" because people expect to find some kind of language that was spoken in the Balkans before the currently spoken languages "arrived". What if these paleo languages never left and this is why we don't find any trace of the older languages...They have been in the Balkans since at least 3000 bc, when first proto beakers arrived from Azov area and moved via balkan up Danube system into Central Europe and along the Mediterranean coast to Iberia and then Britain and Ireland. Have a look at my posts about Montenegrian tumuluses....All the new languages just got added to it and it influenced all of these new arriving languages, but the core has been there, I believe, at least since then...

  4. Surely before then... estomago (Spanish) = stomach (English) = tomactli (Aztec).