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Type: derivational
Function: diminutive (?)
Language: Celtic
Phonemic analysis: -/il/- and/or -/ill/-
Attestation: anteśilu, atilonei, kasiloi, kasilos, kasilus, ritilio(, runelos, rupelos, siuilios, uarsileos, uitili, uitilios


Common in Continental Celtic onomastics (cf. Stüber 2005: 71 f., Stüber et al. 2009: 34, 259). See Untermann 1960: 275–279, 83 f., 288–290 for attestations in PNN of Northern Italy, specifically the Milano namescape.

The suffix variant must ultimatively go back to PIE agentive and instrumental *-l-, which also derived diminutives (Brugmann 1906: 373 ff., Leumann 1977: 310, Weiss 2009: 279 f., but see below); -il(l)- through recutting (cf. -ul(l)-). See De Bernardo Stempel 1999: 222–228 for the lexical l-suffix in Insular Celtic, and cf. -al-. Continental Celtic onomastic -il(l)- is most likely diminutive (cf. LEIA: D-195 s.v. drettel, but cf. also Schuhmann 2003, who argues that it is the use of *-l- to form hypocoristics, derived from appurtenance, which goes back to PIE, and that its diminutive function is a secondary development in certain branches). How exactly the specific forms of the suffix developed is unclear; in Cisalpine Celtic, the initial vowel does frequently, but not always correspond to the stem vowel of the base; a variant -el(l)- also appears (s. AcS I: 1415). Geminate ll may be expressive, as common in hypocoristics (cf. LEIA: D-195 s.v. drettel), or generalised from forms in which it arose through assimilation, as in Latin (Leumann 1977: 305 f., Weiss 2009: 300 with n. 88). Since the suffix, with various initial vowels due to recutting, is productive in many IE branches (esp. Lat. -ill-, Gr. -ιλ(λ)-), interference from these quarters must be expected.

Corinna Salomon


AcS Alfred Holder, Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz, Leipzig: Teubner 1896–1907.
Brugmann 1906 Karl Brugmann, Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen: Vergleichende Laut-, Stammbildungs- und Flexionslehre nebst Lehre vom Gebrauch der Wortformen der indogermanischen Sprachen. Vol. II: Lehre von den Wortformen und ihrem Gebrauch, Part 1: Allgemeines. Zusammensetzung (Komposita). Nominalstämme, 2nd, extended edition, Strassburg: Trübner 1906.
De Bernardo Stempel 1999 Patrizia De Bernardo Stempel, Nominale Wortbildung des älteren Irischen. Stammbildung und Derivation [= Buchreihe der Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 15], Tübingen: Niemeyer 1999.