Sunday, 18 September 2016

Badby to Badby Woods - and a deer ked

Rather a long time ago - actually it was on 9 January, 2014 - I composed a blog in which I addressed the subject of Keck, as a Northamptonshire dialect word for Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris. It engendered quite a lot of correspondence: Celia Hart wrote that as a child in the Cambridgeshire Fens the word used was 'kecksies', whilst Mike Agg informed me that in the Cotswolds old men would refer to a reckless young driver as 'going round the bends with his yud [head] in the keck'. At the time I had mentioned that John Clare referred to the plant as 'kicksies'. I now find that a rhyme in the Cornish dialect speaks of 'the keggas in blowth' (Cow Parsleys in bloom).* Does the word have its origins in a Brythonic language, of which Cornish is an example? It seems unlikely, yet...

* quoted in Richard Dawkins' biography 'An Appetite for Wonder'

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