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

Scottish Gaelic name translator

I am a new student of Scottish Gaelic and am absolutely loving how beautiful the names are. Does anyone know where I can find a translation for my own name? (Jennifer) There is no "J" in the Gaelic alphabet, so I think it must be very different from the English version. Thanks in advance for your help!

February 22, 2020

31 Comments


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

Talking of name translation, I noticed a discussion on one of the sentence threads the other day. People were commenting on "Ruairidh" and wondering why it wasn't translated and someone thought it should be "Rudy".

It's not Rudy, it's Rory. I don't know why the team haven't translated it the way they've translated most of the other names into their more usual English forms, but "Rory" is certainly accepted as a correct answer in English.

Also "John" is accepted as a correct answer for Iain, even though lots of guys are actually called Iain (or more usually Ian) and don't even think of it as a Gaelic name.

My own problem is stopping myself from typing "Hamish" whenever "Seumas" appears in the vocative. My own father's name was James and we always addressed him as Hamish, which is an English transliteration of "Sheumais", and it's what I hear in my head whenever I see that written.


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

But sometimes a name just is. I was given my own name because of a connection with the name Sarah, which was my grandmother's name, but if you addressed me in English as Sarah I'd look around to see who you were talking to.


[deactivated user]

    ❓Does anyone know the answer to this.
    When I was little, I had a penpal in Scotland - named Sheena, by the way! She used to close her letters saying, "Ta ra the noo!". Is anyone familiar with this saying? No one seems to have heard of it.
    Thanks!


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

    It's Scots and just means "goodbye".


    [deactivated user]

      Thanks. I figured that's what was meant. But no Scottish people I have ever met have heard of it!


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

      Was in use in Yorkshire c 1950/60....


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve489888

      'the noo' is fairly standard Scots for 'now: just now:at present'. The 'ta ra' is more interesting, as it is widely recognised in parts of Wales and Northern England as an informal 'goodbye'- and Northern TV series and music culture have spread this further as part of normal speech. I don't know if the Scots usage is independent of this as it seems to be difficult to pin down the origin with certainty - but interesting !


      [deactivated user]

        Yes, it is interesting! It's always stayed on my mind. However she was from Edinburgh, not Yorkshire.
        Still, language travels! This was about 2010 so "the noo" is obviously still in use. The "ta ra" certainly adds a twist to it! :)


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

        It's not unusual, just a bit quirky. "The noo" has the same meaning as the Gaelic "an-drasta", while "noo" on its own is equivalent to "a-nis". Ta-ta, ta-ra, tattie-bye, even toodle-pip are just slang for goodbye. I did actually suggest, tongue firmly in cheeck, that "tattie-bye the noo" should be an accepted translation for "Tioraidh an-drasta",


        [deactivated user]

          Thanks Morag. I was wondering if *ta ta" could also be a derivative.


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

          There are a lot of similar slang goodbyes, and they're not all Scots either. Toodle-pip is more sort of Bertie Wooster.


          [deactivated user]

            Congrats on your 100 Day Streak Robbie! :)


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/William335336

            That was helpful, I've seen it used in Australian poetry and colloquially, we have a long history of emigration from Alba.

            I don't need to translate my name, I'm in the course, and I was so happy when it said 'Uilleam ann an Astrailia.' I'm not so happy when the questions call me stupid.


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

            I've been wrong and stupid and a few other things - and apparently my husband is fat. I get a good laugh out of it.


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FergusMart4

            I've had one son and one nephew appear. Euan is stupid and Calum makes underpants. Me, I'm always clever ;-)


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HelenMcGow1

            As someone who used to say 'ta ta, the noo'!, I am very familiar with the saying. Thank you. Helen.


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joannejoanne12

            Ian and John are both accepted for Iain, as they're legitimate translations. Rory is also one of many accepted translations for Ruairidh.

            The decision was that if the Gaelic version of the name was familiar enough to English speakers, we wouldn't translate it. But if it were a less common name, we would. Hence why Iain is Iain and Mòrag is Morag, but Marsaili is Marjory and Ealasaid is Elizabeth.


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

            I would have thought the Ruairidh spelling was less familiar. But that might just be my experience. I think Marsaili is quite common - I had no idea it was equivalent to Marjory until I did the Duolingo course. But it's all very subjective, any reasonable choice isn't going to be wrong. (I type Rory because it's faster and it's the one I'm not going to spell wrong.)

            I wonder if Robert the Bruce's daughter answered to Marjory or Marsaili?


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

            Don't know, but he was from an immigrant family that came over in 1066 with Duke William. As did our ancestors the Kerrs!


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

            Your ancestors, m'lad. Not mine. (I'm from the other lot, the ones from Arran.)

            And his mother was a native Gaelic speaker, and Bruce himself was trilingual in Gaelic, Norman French and Scots I believe.


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joannejoanne12

            I'd say Marsaili is one of the least common names we teach on the course. There were a few names that were 50/50 as to whether to translate them or not - Ruairidh being one :)


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

            I don't know why Marsaili seems so familiar to me.

            I'm used to thinking of Rory as being spelled Rory, but that's maybe because it's often that way in books written with English readers in mind. If I was introduced to someone called that, I'd assume it was Rory unless I saw it written down. (This has actually happened, in the context of a Christmas card, which thinking about it supports your decision.)


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

            Hi Morag, have you tried to translate Kerr into Gàidhlig yet? I’m getting a few answers so just wondering if you have looked into it at all.


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

            My branch of the family seems to think they come from the Gaelic word "ciar", meaning "dusky". What that precisely is supposed to mean I have no idea.

            I also vaguely wonder about some connection to the word ceàrr, possibly some association with this thing about left-handedness but that might be something I picked up wrongly. My branch of the family is not traditionally left-handed anyway; we don't have anything to do with the mob from Roxburghshire. The origin of the name in the Roxburghshire family is supposed to be Old Norse anyway.

            Seems to be a coincidence of spelling. My family were Gaelic speakers from the island of Arran, nothing to do with the Border family. Although as I live in the Borders I kind of keep that quiet.


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

            Sìne

            (Pronounced sheen-uh)

            It's what I'd use anyway. It's Jane/Jen


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

            Is it spelled like that in Scots Gaelic? I thought that was the Irish spelling? I could be wrong though.


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

            They are the same spelling.


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

            Thanks, I didn't know that.


            https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica

            According to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_(given_name) entered English from Cornish, and the Scottish version seems to be Finnabair (e.g. https://www.allbabynames.com/m/BabyName/Scottish/Finnabair.aspx) - but I'll leave it to native speakers to confirm or deny.


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

            (Just my wee attempt to prevent people calling Gaelic "Scottish". Scots is an entirely different language. Gaelic is Gaelic, and only has "Scottish" or "Scots" in front of it if there is need to indicate that you're not referring to Irish. You never don't include the "Gaelic" part.)


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

            @learngaelic.scot has Jennie = Sìneag

            Learn Scottish Gaelic in just 5 minutes a day. For free.