Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

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Ceid
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Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Ceid » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:18 pm

Chan robh mi cinnteach càit' a cuir seo, agus feumaidh mi seo a mhìneachadh anns a' Bheurla. Ach freagairidh mi gu beachd nas aosda le Seonaidh anns a' chòmhradh "Dé tha thu ag ithe?":
Seonaidh wrote:A rèir an òrdugh, "Meagsago" amsaa, ach cha toil leam sin, air sgàth 's nach bi na M...aich a' cleachdadh "cs" no "gs" airson "x" ann an "Mexico" - tha i coltach ri "j" san Spàinnis. Dè mu dheidhinn "Mechiogo", "Mechigeanach" amsaa?

According to the Holy Writ of Goc, "Meagsago" etc, but that doesn't please me, on the grounds that the M..icans don't use "cs" or "gs" for the "x" in "Mexico" - it's like "j" in Spanish. What about "Mechiogo", "Mechigeanach" etc?
Tha mi duilich airson a' Bheurla a-mhàin:

This is an issue for me, and not just because I live on the US-Mexico border. "Meagsago" seems to be the standard, accepted Gaelicization. I have resisted using it--I decided to simply use the Mexican spelling, México, when I write in Gaelic nowadays. My objection is this Gaelic word is based on the Anglicization of the Spanish word--on how it is pronounced by English speakers and not how it is pronounced in Mexico. Your observation is correct, IMO--and if we wanted a Gaelicization of the actual name of the country, it would have to be something like "Mèchiogo". When I hear Mexicans here say it, the "x" is exactly like the initial "ch" in Gaelic, and not like the "gs" they have been trying to use for the English "x." Likewise, that middle "i" is like the Gaelic "i" and not the schwa sound that English speakers turn it into. And a third point, you often hear a pre-aspiration before the "x" from native Mexican-Spanish speakers--not unlike what you would before a "c" in Gaelic, which is not something you'll hear in the English mangling, I mean, rendering. Ultimately, "Meagsago" is the English word, just with a more complicated, Gaelic spelling that does not relate very well all to the source language of the word because it's imitating English and not the source language!

I don't wish to take on the GOC--I'm certainly not qualified to do so. But this approach is wrong, or in the very least, problematic. Why this is problematic in Gaelic is that it is Anglocentric, not Gaelicentric. If we defer to English whenever we speak Gaelic, what's the point? As my Gaelic teacher says, if you're thinking in English and using Gaelic words and spelling, it's not Gaelic--it's just a more complicated form of English. One critic of the Gaelic used by BBC announcers has already commented that if this kind of Anglocentric thinking in Gaelic keeps up, in 50 years, Gaelic will just be another dialect of English. That's not the way I want this language to go.



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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Thrissel » Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:57 pm

I didn't find Meagsago in the GOC. All I found was: 'Words or sounds integrated into Gaelic should be written as follows [....] X in the middle of a word may be represented by gs: bogsa (box), tagsaidh (taxi)' (chapter 7). Should, later watered down to may. Not must. I don't see what's so Holy Writtish about it.

More to the point, I agree that if we need to Gaelicize at all, it would be better to Gaelicize from the primary language and not through English. However, there's nothing unusual about this. Are you unhappy about a' Ghearmailt? Or an Ungair? Or, for that matter, Spanish Alemania and Hungría? At least one can choose Suòmaidh instead of an Fhionnlainn, which AFAICT one can't in most other European languages.

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Seonaidh » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:26 pm

Gearmailt, a' Ghearmailt: chan eil seo coltach ris a' Bheurla idir. Dè bhiodh a' Ghàidhlig, nam biodh i coltach ris a' Bheurla? 'S dòcha rudeigin mar "Dearmnaidh". Dè nas fheàrr - "Doitlann"? Ann an dòigh litricheil, "Tìr an t-Sluaigh". Ach tha agam ri ràdh nach eil me eòlach air ciallachadh "México": facal Aztec, chreidinn, a sgrìobh na Spàinnich mar sin agus (nan rachadh an dùthaich a lorg an-diugh) a sgrìobhadh iad mar "Méjico". Cha robh fuaim "X" (= CS, GS) ann a-riamh gu deas den iomall, Abhainn Mhòr (Rio Grande). Gun eadar-theangachadh, dè urrainn dhuinn dèanamh ach feuchainn ris am bun-fhuaim a chumail, agus thoireadh siud "Mechiogo".

O seadh, dè mu dheidhinn "Teachas" no "Taochas" air an stàit gu tuath de Mechiogo...

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by GunChleoc » Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:16 pm

Ceid wrote:If we defer to English whenever we speak Gaelic, what's the point? As my Gaelic teacher says, if you're thinking in English and using Gaelic words and spelling, it's not Gaelic--it's just a more complicated form of English. One critic of the Gaelic used by BBC announcers has already commented that if this kind of Anglocentric thinking in Gaelic keeps up, in 50 years, Gaelic will just be another dialect of English. That's not the way I want this language to go.
You have a point there. I don't think a few proper names are the real problem though. IMHO the problem lies rather with more complex expressions or grammatical constructions being taken from English, e.g. "tha e comasach seo a dhèanamh" instead of "Gabhaidh seo dèanamh". Of course, when new words are taken on it can be problematic if they don't fit the sound patterns of the language like lenition and stress on the first syllable.
Oileanach chànan chuthachail
Na dealbhan agam

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:28 pm

My take on this is as follows: you'll only succeed with a Gaelic form of a non-traditional place-name if it a) fits Gaelic phonology and b) isn't too opaque. In most cases, that means following the English form more closely than the native form. But that doesn't single out Gaelic. I can't think of a single language outside China that refers to Hong Kong with something based on Cantonese Heung Gong.

Sometimes you land in the grey area though. The Gaelic tr*nsl*t**n of Firefox uses Casachais (Kazakh), not so much because it's closer to the native form but mainly because root final -ch sits much better than final -c. The other case is "Georgian" where the English form is both ambiguous and very hard to render in Gaelic phonology. So we ended up with Cairtbheilis, based on native (sa)Kartvel-.

The other rule of thumb we ended up with was that we only looked for Gaelic forms for states and state languages (with some exceptions made for European non-state languages/areas as they're much more familiar to people). So we have Basgais "Basque" and "Sàrdais" "Sardinian" but no Gaelic form for Kannada. The reasons are as follows: chances of exposing enough speakers frequently enough to a rare placename or language name are remote so it would both be confusing and unhelpful - say you talked on Aithris na Maidne about Anaisneibe... 1) who the heck would get that 2) who the would know what to Google? Knowledge of placenames is hard to disperse and will take many generations.

The other reason was that there's no need to be "holier than thou"... if you look around, most languages find some -ised form for states, capital cities, other key areas and beyond that just use whatever the official maps in that state's language say. There's no English for Maxvorstadt and I doubt there ever will be. So why do we need Gaelic for that?

Coming back to Meagsago... it only uses one grey rule, the -gs- cluster so I have no bone really with it. *Meithigeo will just be too opaque for the word to succeed and in any case, if you want to go native in Mexico, it ought to be *Meisigeo as x is sh in Aztec ;)

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Níall Beag » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:31 pm

"Meagsago" doesn't bug me in and of itself, but it is dangerous in that it's an example of what I call "English following".

"English following" is the problem of continual language change that follows from (obviously) English.

There's two kinds: phonetic and dictionary.

The example I use of dictionary-based English following is "celibacy". In the traditional ecclesiastical sense, it just meant not being married. In modern English, it is instead used as meaning someone who abstains from sex (an overinterpretation from the fact that unmarried people were traditionally supposed to abstain from sex).

Now anyone looking for "celibate" in Dwelly are going to come up with something that means a person who isn't married*, but they're going to assume that it means someone who isn't shagging someone else. And so the word changes because of English and because of the dictionary.

Setting aside "Meagsago" (with is almost as good an example as "Canadianach"/"Caneeadainach"**, however you want to spell it) the big example I use for phonetic English-following is "paaipear".** It's a clear and obvious derivation from Latin/French. If it was from Modern English, it would be "peipear", but its pronunciation has changed to follow the English. Or alternatively, consider "Uill" -- that's obviously Scots "Weel", but everyone now pronounces it like English "Well", and people are finally starting to write it as "Uell".


* Notice that in Dwelly there's even a term "diionalas"** for "celibacy" with the examples: Rugadh an dìolanas e, he was born in fornication; fhuair i urra le dìolanas, she got a child by fornication. These obviously aren't talking about virgin births here!

** I can't get this computer to include the downward accents, even using the buttons on the page, so long vowels are instead indicated by doubling.

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by akerbeltz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:16 pm

You lost me there, where exactly does pàipear follow English?

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by poor_mouse » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:26 am

Chan eil mi cinnteach...
I believe that in the traditional ecclesiastical sense, "celibacy" means abstaining from marriage and sex. (I know this term from other languages).
Dwelly wrote:dìolanas
-ais, sm Fornication, bastardy, illegitimacy. 2** Celibacy. Rugadh an dìolanas e, he was born in fornication; fhuair i urra le dìolanas, she got a child by fornication.
I think, it's obvious that the example is given for the first (and main) meaning only.
The second meaning is quite odd in any case, and I do not think that anybody would draw hasty conclusions from it.
Eilidh -- Luchag Bhochd

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Níall Beag » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:56 am

akerbeltz wrote:You lost me there, where exactly does pàipear follow English?
Sorry, must try to be clearer.

It's commonly pronounced like the English "paper", but with a Gaelic twist, so it has an "é" sound. However, it's written with "a", which implies an "a" sound which is what every language other than English has, so I think it's fair to assume it's a borrowing from something other than Modern English.

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by akerbeltz » Thu Dec 02, 2010 2:50 pm

Dunno who you've been listening to but English has /pe?p?(r)/, Scottish English /pe?p?r/ and the only thing I consistently hear from Gaels is the expected /p??(h)b?r/. The only time I heard something else was in reference to an academic paper. Is it possible your ears are fooling you?

English following... well, that's what we have. Except for L2 which borrows from L1, most other languages will borrow via L2. That's just the way it happens. I know of no European languages except for contact languages (English, French, Spanish) that borrowed Native American vocab directly from the source. How would they?? Sorbian tends to get its loanwords via German, Breton via French, Basque via Spanish/French. That's just the way it goes.

I'm the first person to advocate attention to phonological rules when dealing with loanwords but I think you may be going a little overboard, if I get your point(s) right.

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Níall Beag » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:15 pm

akerbeltz wrote:Dunno who you've been listening to but English has /pe?p?(r)/, Scottish English /pe?p?r/ and the only thing I consistently hear from Gaels is the expected /p??(h)b?r/. The only time I heard something else was in reference to an academic paper. Is it possible your ears are fooling you?
Maybe my ears are fooling me on é vs è, but that's beside the point. My point: /p??(h)b?r/ is not "expected" from the spelling "pàipear" alone -- the pronunciation would be expected as a modern borrowing, but the orthography clearly indicates an earlier borrowing not from Modern English. Personally, I'd be tempted to consider this a new and distinct word and write it as such, for the sake of orthographic consistency.

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by akerbeltz » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:56 pm

ài quite regularly represents /??/, it's just that not all dialects agree on which words they are. In Argyll, most words with ài have /??/ including "Gàidhlig". For example, the survey reports that the following dialects have /??/ in cnàimh:
Most of the Hebrides, Lochalsh, Skye, Wester Ross

The rest vary between /a:/ and /ai/. Other words with ài show similar patterns.

It's understandable that one starts seeing buaidh na Beurla everywhere but one must still be careful when making sweeping statements 8-)

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Seonaidh » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:47 pm

In this instance (pàipear), however, NB is correct. Even in places where "ài" is usually sounded as a long a, or as one followed by a bit of an i, the word "pàipear" still tends to be pronounced like it has "è" in it.

Mar choimeas, tha facal coltach sa Chuimris, "papur" - agus 's e a-ghoirid (coltach ri "as" an àite "às") a chluinnear an sin, chan eil guth sam bith air "e".

Eadar-theangaich - agus an sin abair - "instead of paper". Am faic thu a-nis?

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by akerbeltz » Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:16 pm

Harr I think I now know what you mean but you're both way off. See me after class :P

I'm nigh on certain that the long /??/ is due to the historic loss of slender labials in Gaelic. In other words, when this word was borrowed from Latin, the phonetic shape was most likely close to /pap??r/, with a slender /p?/. In the process of loosing slender labials, in some positions the labialisation left a glide or /i/ vowel behind, in particular in the vicinity of back vowel. Compare bean ~ beanntan etc. That leaves us with /paip?r/ to which Gaelic now adds pre-aspiration and oh, remember that diphthongs in Gaelic count as long vowels. So our first syllable already carries a long vowel at this stage. So we're on /pai?b?r/, and all that's needed is the well known phenomenon that an /ai/ combination very often raises the entire vowel to /?/. In Gaelic, retaining the length of course, so we have /p??(h)b?r/. Problem solved.

It's not always easy keeping language internal developments and outside influences apart. The Old English case system no doubt received a severe blow by Norman French but if you look elsewhere in Germania, very little remains of it anyway so we both have a language internal process nixing the accusative at the same time as Norman French is throwing it's own clef à vis into the works.

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Re: Concerning "Meagsago" and other Anglicizations

Unread post by Seonaidh » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:25 pm

Duilich, I'm not quite with this "bean - beanntan" thing. Is not more than one bean "mnathan", and only one beanntan "beinn"? Would not "beanntan" make a good internal rhyme with "ceann" and the like? Or does "beanntan" really tr*nsl*t* as "bints"...

Fhad 's a thuigeas mi, b' e Danelaw an rud a chuir taic do chall seann tuisealan na Beurla: bha na Sasannaich a' cleachdadh ceann facail sònraichte agus na Danaich a' cleachdadh fear eile - ach bha mòran fhacal co-ionnan seach seo. Agus bhruidhneadh iad ri cèile ann an seòrsa "pidgin" far nach robh mòran "thuisealan" ann. An do mharbh na Normanaich - no fiù's na Sasannaich - na tuisealan a th' aig a' Ghàidhlig? Carson nach eil tuisealan aig a' Chuimris (agus, a rèir a' chunntais litricheil, cha robh tuisealan aice o chionn fhada)?

Tha agam ri ràdh gu bheil rud coltach sa Chuimris. Ach bidh am fuaim ga fhoillseachadh san litrigeadh, m.e. "sain" (fuaim) agus "seindorf" (orcastra - gu litricheil, muinntir fhuaim); "haul" (grian) agus "heulwen" (deàrrsadh na grèine - gu litricheil, snodha-gaire na grèine).

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