There Is a Balm in Galahad

If you read older sources, the older name for Galahad is “Galaad.” That’s the Latin Vulgate spelling of “Gilead.” Sometimes you see people adding an extra H for their pronunciation convenience, and that probably would be where the H in Galahad came from.

Of course, Gilead probably came in as a Latin/English/Frenchification of his original name, Gwalchavad, which is super-Welsh and would be way too hard to say if you weren’t from Wales or Brittany. Defaulting to a nice Biblical name would have been a good compromise. It may have led to Galahad becoming more saintly of character, too.

Anyway, I’ve known this for a while, but it’s not something obvious or well-known, so I thought I’d throw it up there for the Internet’s sake.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “There Is a Balm in Galahad

  1. Reblogged this on Aquila et Infans and commented:
    I find little etymological notes like this interesting. This brief post gives the background behind Sir Galahad’s name.

  2. Guh-wal…

    Gowal….

    Guwall-chaw….

    Nope. Not happenin’.

    • Gwall-kha-vad, or Goo-all-khah-vahd. The Welsh “ch” is like Bach.

      If you want the skinny on how to pronounce Welsh, The Grey King by Susan Cooper includes an excellent primer. It’s part 4 of the The Dark Is Rising series, though, so you may want to read Over Sea, Over Stone; The Dark Is Rising; and Greenwitch before getting The Grey King. (Part 5 is The Silver Tree.)

      Do NOT watch the movie adaptation of The Dark Is Rising, unless you just want to watch a totally unrelated story that just happens to have the same name.

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