Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 14:27:39 +0000

From: Jim Rader jrader[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]M-W.COM

Subject: Re: welsh/welch and taffy

When I was in regular contact with native Welsh speakers a number of

years ago I had the definite impression welsh / welch was considered an

ethnic slur. No matter its true origin, it was perceived as

referring to the Welsh.

Taffy is also derogatory when used by non-Welshmen, but I think it

may be used in self-reference more or less jocularly, especially in

the Anglicized parts of Wales. Pace W3, the notion that Taffy is

somehow modified from Welsh Dafydd looks quite implausible. There

are two equivalents of "David" in Welsh: Dewi /'de wi/ (a British

Celtic borrowing from ecclesiastical Latin, with vowel affection and

loss of the final voiced fricative) and Dafydd /'da v[barred

i][edh]) in North Wales, /'da vi[edh]/ in South Wales (a medieval

Welsh borrowing ). St. David is rendered in Welsh by the fixed

collocation Dewi Sant . I doubt that Welshmen would associate

either Dewi or Dafydd with Taffy ; if anyone has evidence to the

contrary, it would be of interest.

A more plausible source of Taffy might be the river Taff, which

flows through Cardiff--at least it fits phonetically. The slangism

Taffy has a variant Taff , though it's attested much more


The Morris's Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins --I'm amazed it's

still in print--is of value only as a collection of etymology


Jim Rader