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An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:48 pm
by wulliam
Hi. I wonder whether someone with knowledge of old Gaelic phrases and idioms might be able to help?

In 1871 a tradition was recorded.
It says that a man unwilling to give his daughter in marriage made an excuse: "gun ro leum na ceann aig aird na gealaich".

As far as my brother (who is fluent) can make out it says "that the head(s) jumped at the promontory of the moon"??

You can see the original at http://www.carmichaelwatson.lib.ed.ac.u ... isinis/ALL
Any help will be gratefully received :)

Thanks for reading!
William

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 8:17 pm
by GunChleoc
"na ceann" could also mean "in her head".

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:13 pm
by akerbeltz
He's making the excuse that she's crazy, leum 'na ceann 'a leap in her head' i.e. something gone wrong, aig àirde na gealaich, as high as the moon is just an intensifier, a bit like saying she's completely bonkers.

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:43 pm
by wulliam
That's really helpful - thanks! There's a Northern Irish phrase describing someone who's taken a bit of a crazy turn - "head staggers".
I wonder whether 'head staggers' might be an English tr*nsl*t**n of an old Gaelic phrase?

William

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 11:17 pm
by Níall Beag
The moon was traditionally associated with madness across Europe -- it's not a coincidence that we call crazy people lunatics. There's an outdated English phrase describing someone as "touched by the moon" when they have mental problems. (The internet claims this is Cockney rhyming slang for "loon", but I don't believe it.)

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 12:55 am
by faoileag
OTHELLO
It is the very error of the moon,
She comes more nearer earth than she was wont
And makes men mad.

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 8:22 pm
by akerbeltz
Dug a bit further now I'm back with my books. The second part actually means "at full moon", making the whole thing an elaborate excuse for her being bonkers due to the full moon - which isn't anyone's fault so nobody would be offended. A bit like the old-fashioned word moonstruck.

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:41 am
by wulliam
Akerbeltz - that's excellent information - thank you! May I ask where you found that meaning?

William

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:59 pm
by akerbeltz
The Dictionarium Scoto-Celticum under "full"

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:56 pm
by wulliam
Thank you - I can see it for myself on archive.org
I'm doing some amateur research with a friend - there is a faint chance we may publish at some point. If so, we'd want to acknowledge your help. Can you let me know your name, or should we just go with "Akerbeltz on foramnagaidhlig.net"?

Thanks again :)
William

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:18 am
by faoileag

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:41 pm
by akerbeltz
Och chan e rùn a th' ann, it's no secret, my name is Michael Bauer :D

An old Gaelic phrase - what might it mean??

Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:19 pm
by wulliam
That's great - thanks again!
William