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Black Water

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:36 pm
by Marta
Hello everyone :)

I am writing a story in which some places need to have Gaelic names and I was wondering if you could help me with tr*nsl*t**n.
The place I'm having a bit of a trouble with is a reservoir called 'Black Water' (Black is a family name in this case).
How should it be called in Gaelic?
Also, would there be any difference in the tr*nsl*t**n if 'black' meant the colour?

I'd really appreciate your help!

Marta
A complete beginner :)

Re: Black Water

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:51 pm
by Níall Beag
You wouldn't get a reservoir called that.

Black Water would be the name of a stream.

There's a Blackwater Reservoir in Lochaber, and a Blackwater Dam in New Hampshire in the USA. The Scottish one is fed by a river marked on the map as Black Water. There are various watercourses using this naming, eg the Afton Water in Ayrshire or the Allan Water that flows into the Forth near Stirling, which is Uisge Alain in the Gaelic.

However, as I understand it, the Blackwater Reservoir was initially named in English (I don't believe there was a loch with the same name there previously -- reservoirs built where there was a loch usually retain the existing loch name) and such a name is highly unlikely in Gaelic. Typically a Gaelic river (abhainn) starts at a loch, and is named after the loch -- it is very unusual for a loch to bear the name of any of the rivers or burns feeding into it.

The use of "water" as a lake name is specific to the English of England, and even there it's limited (AFAIK) to the Lake District, where it arises as a replacement for the word-element "mere".

Re: Black Water

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:24 am
by poor_mouse
Marta wrote:... a reservoir called 'Black Water' (Black is a family name in this case).
So, Marta talks about some imaginary reservoir, I think.

You see, Marta, the word 'uisge' does mean 'water' (stòr-uisge - reservoir).
The same word in the expression 'uisge beatha' prodused the word 'whisky' in English. :)

But how can you trnslt the surname 'Black'? It's impossible; if there is an English surname in your story, it must be English.
Or maybe you mean the Gaelic surname, similar to 'Black' in English?

Re: Black Water

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:43 am
by Marta
Thank you for a thorough explanation :)
The Black Water reservoir/lake that I have in mind, however, is a made-up place.
What I'm looking for is just a straightforward tr*nsl*t**n of that name to Gaelic, given that Black is a surname - not the colour (I'm not sure if it makes a difference?).

Marta

Re: Black Water

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:18 am
by poor_mouse
But how can you trnslt 'Black' as a family name in other language so as it wouldn't be the same thing as the name of the color?

For example, put it in French or any other language you know. What would be a result?

Re: Black Water

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:34 pm
by Marta
I've noticed that there are Gaelic equivalents for some English names so I was wondering if this can apply to Scottish surnames as well.

Re: Black Water

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:19 pm
by akerbeltz
So you're talking after a body of water named after someone with the surname Black (presumably a Scot)? Like calling it Merkel Water? I guess that would be Uisge MhicGilleDhuibh.

Re: Black Water

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:48 pm
by Marta
This is precisely what I'm talking about :)
So MhicGilleDhuibh would be an equivalent for the surname Black? Like in Meall Lochan Mhic Gille Dhuibh?
Can you tell me what the three words (Mhic Gille Dhuibh) mean in Gaelic?

Re: Black Water

Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:47 pm
by GunChleoc
It's the genitive of:

mac, gille and dubh

:)

Re: Black Water

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:24 am
by Marta
Just from curiosity: if 'mac' means 'son' (a boy by definition), why do you need to add 'gille' ?

Re: Black Water

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 6:30 pm
by akerbeltz
Because in Gaelic the quivalent of Black is literally Son of the Black Servant (in a religious sense). Or in short, it just is :)

Note that you can't just put the spaces in there, it has to be MacGilleDhuibh with no speaces and camel case (i.e. those caps). In Irish you put a space after Mac but not in Gaelic. At least not if the person in question knows how to spell Gaelic properly ;)

Re: Black Water

Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:40 pm
by Seonaidh
I don't think Kielder Water can be said to be in the Lake District - and Rutland Water certainly isn't. So "uisge" would probably be OK in Gaelic. But it is pretty universal for all lakes, natural or otherwise, to be termed "loch" in Scotland. Indeed, just as you get weird things like "Lake Windermere" in English (which probably means something like "lake white water lake") so we have things like Lindores Loch (lake "dores" lake) and Loch Watten (lake water) here, illustrating the change of language over time (in these cases, from some form of Pictish/British to Gaelic and from Norse to Gaelic resp.)

As for "Black", it probably depends on whether the hypothetical "Black family" came from Gaelic roots or not. If so, maybe something like MacIlleDhuibh might be appropriate - but so might, e.g. Mac a' Ghobhainn (from Blacksmith). If the name didn't come from some Gaelic-speaking forebear (ceithir mathan...), it might be inappropriate to attempt to put it into Gaelic at all.

Re: Black Water

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 4:53 pm
by Níall Beag
Marta wrote:Thank you for a thorough explanation :)
The Black Water reservoir/lake that I have in mind, however, is a made-up place.
What I'm looking for is just a straightforward tr*nsl*t**n of that name to Gaelic, given that Black is a surname - not the colour (I'm not sure if it makes a difference?).
Whether it's a real place or not is irrelevant. If you want a good tr*nsl*t**n, you have to base it on real usage, or you get something which isn't real Gaelic, and if you don't want an accurate tr*nsl*t**n, why would you even bother asking for one?

Uisge MhicGilleDhuidh, as suggested by Akerbeltz, would be a bad tr*nsl*t**n, because it would mean "Black's River" to any speaker of the language. A more appropriate tr*nsl*t**n would be Loch MhicGilleDhuibh.
Seonaidh wrote:I don't think Kielder Water can be said to be in the Lake District - and Rutland Water certainly isn't. So "uisge" would probably be OK in Gaelic.
OK, I was wrong about that bit, but they're still lakes in England with English names, and they say nothing about Gaelic.

To date, I have seen "uisge" only in the names of several streams/rivers, and never lakes. If anyone knows a counter-example, I would love to hear it.

Re: Black Water

Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 10:39 pm
by akerbeltz
Fair point regarding Uisge, I wasn't paying attention to that, my bad.

Re: Black Water

Posted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:25 am
by faoileag
Today I was driving along between Ullapool and Garve and remembered that there is a Black Water there too (with a photogenic bridge and waterfalls) - tried to take photo of bilingual sign but hopelessly overgrown. Anyway, it said:

Black Water River / Alltan Dubh.