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Ciamar a chanas mi.... / How do I say...
Laighneach
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Unread post by Laighneach » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:31 am

In Ireland, Mac has become Mag before certain names (beginning with a vowel or R, L, F,) e.g. Mag Aonghusa, Mag Riabhaigh, etc.
Are there any cases of Mac > Mag in Scottish Gaelic?

Gun robh math agaibh.



GunChleoc
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Unread post by GunChleoc » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:22 am

Not that I know of. Irish doesn't have preaspiration, so maybe the distinction is stronger in Scottish Gaelic and prevents this sort of thing. Just guessing ;)
Oileanach chànan chuthachail
Na dealbhan agam

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Unread post by akerbeltz » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:51 am

That's just shoddy spelling. Even though Irish spells these as separate words, they're really compounds, so the stress on mac has disappeared and as a result, I would imagine the (post)aspiration of the c is weaker than in a stressed word, which makes it sound a little more like /g/ (though I suspect it's actually /kʰ » k/ rather than /kʰ » g/. Which probably led to a feedback loop i.e. English speakers spelling it with g and then some Irish speakers thinking that's the right way...

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Unread post by Laighneach » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:20 pm

Thank you both for the replies.

It goes back some time in the written language, e.g. the surname Mág* Shamhradháin appears as "Mag Amhradan" in "The Book of Magauran", written in the early 14th century, so I don't think it's derived from any English spelling.
(*It's frequently Mág, gen. Méig)

Anyway, it looks like I have my answer so gun robh math agaibh a-rithist.

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Unread post by akerbeltz » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:03 pm

Interesting but if it indeed has a long á, then I am very suspicious. There is to my knowledge no trace of length anywhere in Goidelic mac. I know that beyond Celtic the etymology of mac is uncertain but OIr macc, OW map, Gaul mapon- (and Cornish, Manx etc) show now sign of length or indeed something that might result in length.
So if mág appears alongside mac in the 14th century, I would check to see if this might be a loanword - the Pale is 12th century so it might be one of those Anglo-Norman words like de. Or another root being confused with mac.

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Unread post by Laighneach » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:53 pm

I had a look in the Electronic Dictionary of the Irish language http://edil.qub.ac.uk/search?q=mac&search_in=headword and found the following:

After the introduction of surnames (10th-11th cent.), mac folld. by gen. n.pr. m. becomes a common form of surname and often changes to Mág (gen. Méig); the usage is extended to foreign names. Flaithbertach Mag Uidhir, AU ii 442.2 (an. 1327). Cormac Mag Coscraidh, AU iii 430.24 . Cormac óg m.¤ C. m.¤ T. Meg Ca, AU iii 428.3 . mac Airt Meg Uidhir, iii 10.9 (1383). Raghnall mac Mic Raghnaill, ii 196.8 (1179). do clainn Raghnaill Meg Raghnaill, iii 12.20 (1384).

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Unread post by akerbeltz » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:28 pm

Though that merely describes what was going on on the surface, there's nothing in there which explains where the length came from all of a sudden. That normally doesn't just happen.

But I don't want to give you a hard time, sorry, so maybe we leave it there and I'll pursue it myself, maybe I can dig something up.

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Unread post by Laighneach » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:38 pm

Yes, it's pretty strange, and frustrating that no reason for its development is given.

If you ever come across an explanation please post it here, I'd be fascinated to know myself.

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Unread post by akerbeltz » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:13 pm

Sure, will do

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Unread post by akerbeltz » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:44 pm

Hm it's not even mentioned in Lexique Étymologique de L'Irlandais Ancien or the Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic.

I've been thinking though - and this is purely an educated guess - that of the examples given in eDIL, the usage is extended to foreign names. Flaithbertach Mag Uidhir [...] Cormac Mag Coscraidh[...] Meg Raghnaill, apart from Mag Uidhir, both are Anglo-Norman or Norse names (Cosgrove and Rögnvaldr). There is the Proto-Germanic root *mēgaz which is a son-in-law or simply a relative, giving us Norse mágr and Old Saxon mǣġ. Given that surnames in the modern sense were an innovation, it's possible that rather than the usage is extended to foreign names we're looking at the usage is influenced by foreign names i.e. a bit of a beggar's muddle of forms here or at least some folk etymology on behalf of Germanic scribes mis-interpreting mac for māg.

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