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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kieran99892

Some Feedback (To Whom it May Concern) Regarding the Names

Feasgar math/madainn mhath! Ciamar a tha sibh?

First of all I'm loving the beta, I've taken a break from evening classes so this is a great refresher! Although this is more of an inconvenience for myself I do think it's worth addressing...

I understand that names also have translations (Iain/John, Anndra/Andrew etc) but I honestly think flagging answers wrong for name spelling that people would reasonably have no earthly idea knowing is a bit counter productive (I've been studying the language for over a year and had no idea Elizabeth was written as Ealasaid, for example). I love this language but I don't think the names should be changed for the sake of it because it doesn't REALLY aid in the learning? Again, knowing the whole Elizabeth/Ealasaid thing is a cool little extra thing to know but people will end up putting too much focus on the spelling of names rather than sentence structure, other nouns etc.

Names are a personal thing; if I was called 'George' and someone said, "Ah, halo Seoras!" I would be adamant that my name is George, even though the translation is correct.

Again (a-rithist), I know this is still a beta but what better time to give feedback I thought.

Tioraidh!

November 30, 2019

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Coineanach

I totally see your point, but as someone who grew up in Scotland (and didn't even learn Gaelic growing up) this name switching/mashing is increadibly common in the country. In my year there were Eilidhs and Helens, Mharis and Varis and Marys, Georges and Seòras', and these both were and weren't considered 'different' names. It's not just a 'cool extra little thing', it's really built into the culture. Some people pick one spelling for life, but many others switch between them or change from one to another permanently. Bear in mind that many of the Gaelic>English translations were forced on people, so the name you use in a certain context can be a form of code switching or assertion of identity. It's not as simple as a regional variant.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tj4234

To be fair it is extremely common in Gaelic speaking communities within Scotland for people to use Gaelic equivalents of their names even if it isn't their legal name. I didn't even know my legal first name until I was in secondary school.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EdgarBear1969

I'm sure there aren't Gaelic equivalents for non-Anglicised/Latin names, are there?

My name is Jamie. While it's a common name in Scotland, I wouldn't appreciate anyone modifying it in Gaelic - I certainly wouldn't do it myself.

What about names like: Sharlene, Hideko, Zhang-wei, Muhammad? Are there Gaelic equivalents?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tj4234

Generally we'd either find equivalents or give nicknames for those. For example your name may become what you or your parent's job title is.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pabu46

..or the house you live in, the colour of your hair, or where your father came from. It was an important lesson for me to learn as a nurse when I came to a Gaelic speaking area, but it is fun and really interesting, It tells a lot about a place and the oral history


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jim606185

It's a lot more common in Gaelic than other languages. Even surnames tend to be translated. If you have a look at the credits in most Gaelic productions, you'll see that. Things like lenition are difficult otherwise.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jim606185

If your name was Seòras or your surname was MacRusachainn, there is a very good chance that when introducing yourself in English, you'd translate it to George Kennedy. I don't see any problem with keeping the non translated names as an alternative translation, but I hope that the writers of this course don't resort to defaulting to not translating names, because it's such a common practice that a person learning Gaelic would have to learn at least the more common names.

What is different about Gaelic is that everybody who speaks Gaelic also speaks English. In some cases they need to translate their name from Gaelic into English or non Gaelic speakers will have a heck of a job remembering it. This is something that's unique and intrinsic to Gaelic. Actually Welsh and Breton would be the same in that respect.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ARCANA-MVSA

Every other course does the same - they don't allow for translations of the names. In Latin, they have Stephanus; in Czech, Kateřina. How many translations would there be, I ask, if these names could be translated into Stephan, Steven, Stephen, Steve, Katherine, Katerina, Katrina, Kathy, and who knows how many other possibilities?!

I personally don't mind leaving names untranslated in any case. It just gives me more practice with spelling. Far as I'm concerned, no harm done.

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/garpike

Every other course does the same - they don't allow for translations of the names.

This is not true in my experience. The courses you mention do indeed take a policy stance of not translating names, but there are certainly plenty of other courses that do allow translations into English 'equivalents'. In Chinese or Japanese, for example, at lot of Western names have to be thoroughly mangled in order to be made to fit into their respective phonological systems.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MustafaOuz526752

Because, unlike English, Japanese and Chinese don't use the Latin alphabet. Names should be translated when the scripts used are different.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ARCANA-MVSA

That isn't a translation, that's a transliteration. Very different. :) And yes, the Russian and Greek courses do this.

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ARCANA-MVSA

Differing phonological systems probably have a lot to do with that. These names are not inherently from Japan or China, and likewise don't fit very well into Japanese or Chinese phonology. That's why they look so different, and why the courses would allow one to translate them - because these are the Japanese/Chinese versions of names that are not Japanese/Chinese in origin.

I have not, however, seen this in any of my courses - probably because they use names that are common where (or when) the language is spoken. They are not like the courses you describe, where one learns what foreign names look like in the target language - Kateřina is Kateřina (not Katherine, etc.) and Stephanus is Stephanus (not Stephan, etc.), and so on. These names are not foreign terms adopted into the language; they are part of the language itself.

If the names taught in the Japanese/Chinese courses were native to those languages, I'm willing to bet that the most you'd be able to give as a translation would be a transliteration - like "Dima" for "Дима" in the Russian course (due to differing writing systems).

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.

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