Attested: Tamion/Tainon/Tamson at position 244 in the Ravenna Cosmography's series of harbour estuaries
Where: The river Taff leading to Cardiff, with mouth around ST1972, located by its position between Isca and Aventio.
Name origin: This name resembles Greek ταμειον (or ταμιειον) ‘storehouse, treasury, inner room’, which Beekes (2009) relates to ταμια ‘housekeeper’, and to τεμνω or ταμνω ‘to cut’, from PIE *temə- ‘to cut’. That would be an apt meaning for the Taff, which really does cut through a narrow cleft at Castell Coch, before slicing through the low ground of south Wales. The -on ending might be related to the -ona ending seen on many river names.
Notes: Maybe this name is relevant to the whole mystery of the class of rivers that begin with Tam- (Thames, Thame, Tame, Teme, Tamar, etc), about which so much has been written. See under Tamesis for a quote from R&S endorsing the view of Nicolaisen, that the basic root is PIE *ta- ‘to flow’. A more recent endorsement is by Wyn Owen & Morgan (2007): “The root is British *Tam- once thought to mean ‘dark’, but now generally understood to be ‘to flow’”. Against that is the way that no one explains what an M adds to Ta-. Also the Tamar and Thames are real cuts into the landscape.
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Last edited 22 August 2019 to main Menu