Salud d'eoc'h toud, Bretoned.
Que signifie et d'où vient le nom des Bretons
Voici une étude, en anglais, du nom des Britanni, Celtes habitant les Iles britanniques.
* Rivet & Smith : The Place-names of Roman Britain
. p. 280 et suiv.
SOURCES. As with Britannia, there is no point in listing all occurrences of this name and related forms. An outline is given in Chapter II, pp. 39-40. Good guides in following the origin and development of the name are Jackson in PP 158-60, with other détails in Scottish Historical Review, XXXIII (1954), 16, and the extensive survey of O'Rahilly in EIHM 444-52.
The original Celtic name was *Pritani, *Priteni
; the former, Jackson thinks, current in southern Britain, the latter in northern parts. The name would be that which the first speakers of P-Celtic in these islands gave themselves (but see below) and passed to Pytheas during his exploration, *Pritani being represented in Greek as Prettanoi. The antiquity of the spelling with P- is the subject of a comment by Eustathius, who, like Stephanus of Byzantium, draws attention to the -tt-. Diodorus and Strabo (in part) préserve the P, presumably following Pytheas, but eventually in Greek (doubtless influenced by the standard Latin form) the spelling with B- became common. In Latin usage from the first records Britanni was standard, with -tt- spelling also in the later Impérial period. The name is first found in Latin in Catullus and then Caesar; it can hardly have been learned by the Romans from Greek sources (since it would then have been *Prettani from the start in Latin, presumably), but seems to have been picked up from the Celtic of Gaul. It may have been, however, that the equivalences of Greek P and Latin B- had been noted; attention has been drawn, for example, to Purros = Burrus, Puxos = buxus 'box'. Another explanation is suggested by O'Rahilly EIHM 451-52 : that within Gaulish the name heard as *Pritani was assimilated to Gaulish words in *brit-, of which there were a number, and that in this form the name passed to Latin speakers.
In the Celtic speech of these islands, beside official Britanni introduced by Latin speakers at the conquest of A.D. 43, older *Pritani naturally survived, and from it came eventually Welsh Prydain ' Britain ' : the ethnic name became a name for the island. Moreover, the inhabitants of Roman Britain went on using the name *Priteni as a désignation for the unromanised peoples north of the Antonine Wall, since from this derived Welsh Prydyn with the sense 'Picts, Pictland'. This *Priteni was the form known to the Irish, because of their close contacts with northern Britain; adapted to Q-Celtic phonetics, *Quriteni *Quritenii produced Old Irish Cruithin, Cruithni 'Picts'.
The Latin adjectival form was Britannicus, with a learned variant used for metrical reasons in verse, Britannus. The latter seems to have retained its learned quality, its more popular noun-form for the individual of the people being Britto, first recorded in Martial XI, XXI, 9, and well known in inscriptions ; this was used as a personal name in the Continental provinces as Britto, Brittus, Britta, or perhaps coincided there with an older personal name of the same form. Ethnic Brittones, first recorded in Juvenal XV, 124, is thus a full alternative to Britanni and was in fact adopted officially : auxiliary units - alae, cohortes and numeri — of Brittones are well attested in diplomata and in inscriptions on the Continent from the late first century onwards and in ND we have Britones seniores and iuniores (Or. IX22, Occ. VII,127), secundani Britones (Occ. VII,84) and the ala IV Britonum (Or. XXXI,45), as well as the cohors III Britt(an)orum (Occ. XXXV,25). This Britto, Brittenes might be of Celtic origin, but it could also be a hypercoristic form of Britannus (O'Rahilly, citing Morris Jones, notes that in shortened forms of names a consonant was often doubled). Brittones was at any rate taken into, or survived in Celtic usage, > Welsh Brython. It survived long also (Britanni being forgotten after the collapse of Roman rule) in learned usage, for Bede regularly uses Bretto, Brettones when referring to the Celtic inhabitants of the island in his day. It cannot be regarded as wholly certain that original *Pritani was the name which the P-Celts of the island gave themselves at a very early stage, although it is clear that at a later period this name became standard among them. To suppose such self-naming as Jackson does perhaps implies a higher degree of national consciousness and unity than is warranted by what we know of tribal divisions, successive migrations and (for example in the decades which immediately preceded the Roman Conquest) endémic warfare. In many cases a people does not need to name itself; a name is often given by outsiders, foreigners, and only taken to itself by a people at a later stage. An alternative hypothesis is, then, that the inhabitants of these islands were named *Pritani by the Gauls, this name being passed to the Greeks of Massilia, to those interested in the tin trade, etc., at first in pure form with P and, much later, to the Romans with B- (after the assimilation mentioned above had occurred). There may be a further argument in the fact that the name is descriptive (see below), that is, the sort of name given by one people to others; it is not heroic or divine or specially dignified.
DERIVATION. The accepted view is that the *Pretani are 'figured folk, tattooed folk', from an Indo-European root *qrt- 'to eut' (Latin curtus, Gaelic cruth 'form, shape'), with the *pr- of P-Celtic. They are probably not the only people so named. In RC, LI (1934), 339, there is a summary of work of Hubschmid on the name Prätigau (Switzerland), in Rheto-Romance Val Parténs, Purténs or Portenz, in older times Portennis or Pertennis, these probably deriving from ethnic *Pretani or *Pretanni; other names in the area, Partnun and Partennen, may derive from ethnic *Prettennones. These would then be a people named in the same way as those of Britain. Pokorny in VR, X (1949), 232, sought a different root for both names, nothing less than Illyrian with a sense 'Kàmpfer' ('warriors'), concluding that 'Die Pritenni in Graubünden sind dann auf ihrer Wanderung nach den Britischen Inseln dort sitzen gebleibene keltisierte Urnenfelderleute'. However, there seems no need to revise the traditionally accepted explanation of the name.
IDENTIFICATION. The inhabitants of Britain.
Nous pourrons en apporter des traductions à ceux qui le souhaiteraient.