Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

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Brus
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Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by Brus » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:04 pm

Can anyone tell my why this is Gaelic for "Lindsay"?

It seems to be the only Gaelic surname that is neither a tr*nsl*t**n nor phonetic near-match to the English version.



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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by An Gobaire » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:30 am

The English transliteration of that Gaelic name you've given is MacLintock or MacClintock. However, from the 17th century there was a practise of using English equivalents of Gaelic surnames in English and Lindsay was used, according to the extract from a website below,which had the effect of making the Mclintock name less common in English than it would have been. It doesn't give the reason for Lindsay being chosen.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.anc ... rigins.htm
THE AGE OF THE McCLINTOCK SURNAME

No one knows when the present McClintock surname was first spoken or written. It is as old as the fifteenth century as it appeared in the Dean of Lismore’s book described later. As the name was a gaelic surname its English equivalent "Lindsay" was used when writing or speaking English as early as 1611 according to George Black’s book "The Surnames of Scotland". This practice was discontinued sometime before the sixteenth century and Lindsay was converted to McClintock as the English equivalent of the old gaelic surname. The use of Lindsay had the effect of making the McClintock name less common than it would have been. The Lindsays occupied another part of Scotland and there is no reason to believe that there is any blood connection between them and the McClintocks. Professor Black’s (he was a professor at New York University) book contains the following poem by Ailean Dall to the Lochaber Volunteers in 1795 referring to a warrior from Glenara in Scotland written in Gaelic:

"Clamar theid na h-uaislean cruinn

Gun Lindsay ‘bhith san airmh

Ga’n ainm Cailean MacIlliuntaig

Le thionndadh an Gaidhlig"

This is the English tr*nsl*t**n: How will the warrior chieftains gather, without Lindsay to be in their number? By whom was known in Gaelic as Colin MacClintock.
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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by akerbeltz » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:50 am

Either way, it would be MacGilleFhionntaig, only Irish spaces surnames and MacG has blocked lenition so no h

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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by Seonaidh » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:10 am

It's not always blocked. Maclean?

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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by Níall Beag » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:16 pm

Except in MacIlleEathain it's reduced to zero. There's no dialect that I'm aware of that lenites G to zero in any other word.....

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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:19 pm

Just because people can't spell does not mean it's not blocked. What happens is that the cG sequence comes out as /x'g/ i.e. the /xg'g/ cluster is simplified to a single instance of /g/ but that's a cluster reduction rule, not lenition. And those who think they must represent what comes out of their mouth 100% in writing then start playing with the cG spelling. MacIlle or Mac'Ille I can live with but MacGhille is wrong on *all* levels, there is *never* a /xgɣ/ sequence in there, not in native Gaelic anyway.

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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by Seonaidh » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:17 pm

As you stated, in pronunciation you can't tell whether it's lenited or just subsumed into the preceding C of Mac. So why be judgemental about it?

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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by akerbeltz » Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:00 pm

I never said that you can't tell what it is. You can believe whatever you want. I don't care. It doesn't alter the fact that this is not a sequence of cG > cGh > c but of cG > c.

Blocked lenition is a well-known and well-described phenomenon in Gaelic amongst linguists. If you want to come up with some outlandish theory why the general principal does not apply in this case, I await the publication of your paper on the topic with bated breath.

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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by GunChleoc » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:29 am

What Akerbeltz is on about that (orthographically speaking) c+g = c, not that c+gh = c. c+gh would probably stay c+gh, if it existed. The point is, it doesn't exist - for the same reason you say sgian dubh and not sgian dhubh, or air an doras and not air a' dhoras.

So, we have 2 things here: First, what would be MacGhille... becomes MacGille..., because c and g are pronounced in the same place (both are velar sounds). This is a case of blocked lenition, so after the c, g is not lenited.

Second, nobody says g-g in normal speech, so the c-g blends into one sound, which you then find reflected on the MacIlle... orthography. If you want an English example for this stuff, try pronounding both the t and the d in the word "outdoor". Notice how hard this is? I bet you 2 sgillinn that you will drop the t or d when speaking normally.
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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by Níall Beag » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:23 am

GunChleoc wrote:I bet you 2 sgillinn that you will drop the t or d when speaking normally.
Not a particularly safe bet - T and D aren't actually homoorganic in a lot of people's speech, or at least not when comparing syllablee onset with coda. If Seonaidh glottalises his Ts, he'll pronounce both. I'm pretty certain I do.

A better comparison would be "background". The closest I can get to pronouncing both the /k/ and the /g/ is a lengthened stop with an unvoiced start and a voiced and a voiced ending, but even that only seems possible thanks to the presence of the R...

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Re: Mac Ghille Fhionntaig?

Unread post by GunChleoc » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:02 am

Yes, that's definitely a better example. I didn't think of t turning into ?, in which case it isn't a t anymore.
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