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6270Re: fell

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  • llama_nom
    May 1, 2006
      Fells to me would be rugged hills, especially in the north of
      Britain. It appears in a lot of placenames. According to the Oxford
      English Dictionary, it's a loanword from Old Norse, related to the
      German word Fels "rock":

      1. A hill, mountain. Obs. exc. in proper names of hills in the north-
      west of England, as Bowfell, Scawfell, etc.

      2. A wild, elevated stretch of waste or pasture land; a moorland
      ridge, down. Now chiefly in the north of England and parts of Scotland.

      I suspect my associations for this word have been influenced by
      Tolkien, who may have revived sense 1, and by reading Old Norse.
      According to the OED, English 'moor' originally meant marshland,
      related to ON moerr, and mýrr?, both feminine jo-stems, and
      English 'mere'; the present meaning of 'moor' in English may have been
      influenced by the etymologically unrelated ON mór (gen. mós, pl. móar).

      I wonder how well the meanings match of the Icelandic and English
      cognates heiðr : heath. Where I live, in the east of England, a heath
      is upland, a plateau, not as good farmland as the lowland, and
      traditionally used for pasture rather than agriculture, but often
      cultivated nowadays thanks to improved technology. In parts of
      northern England there are hilly areas called wolds (the Yorkshire
      Wolds, the Lincolnshire Wolds). In the south-east, the same word
      appears as "The Weald". These are all grassy hills. Likewise "The
      Downs" or downland (=upland!). The word is cognate with ON 'völlr',
      which I think is a grassy plain, and with German 'Wald' "forest" <
      Proto-Germanic *walþuz. To me, moor or moorland suggests a hilly area
      a bit more rugged, ranging from grassy areas suitably for grazing to
      heather and rocky outcrops and peat bogs. You can see pictures on
      Google Images of the North York Moors and the Scottish moors. There
      are also famous moors in the southwest of England: Dartmoor, Exmoor.
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