1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Scottish Gaelic
  4. >
  5. "Feasgar math, a Sheumais."

"Feasgar math, a Sheumais."

Translation:Good afternoon, James.

February 27, 2020



Is this just an alternative spelling of Seumas?


Wee story. My father was from a Gaelic speaking family, although he himself had almost no Gaelic. His given name was James, but everyone addressed him as "Hamish", for his entire life. Hamish is how "Sheumais" sounds when you say it. When he was a child he was known as Seumas, and it kind of stuck. Sometimes he even had letters addressed to "Mr. H. Kerr"! Someone once gave him a box of handkerchiefs with an H embroidered in the corner. But he was Seumas to his childhood family, and James on his birth certificate, and Hamish in our family as an adult.

He explained it all to me when I was a child, when he taught me the very small amount of Gaelic he had picked up from his own father (who died in 1912 when dad was only eight) who himself wasn't fluent because at that time all the schools were English-only and children were discouraged from speaking Gaelic. Dad explained that it was really "Seumas", and that it should be "a Hamish" when talking to him (of course he didn't write anything down so I had no idea it was spelled Sheumais and maybe he didn't either). I remembered all that, but never really thought about the loss of our language until a lot later. Maybe I can get it back, very belatedly.

This is how it was 100 years ago. (He was born in 1904.) And for some time after that. I'm told some registrars wouldn't even accept Gaelic names for children, insisting on the English versions being the official name for the records. I was told of a registrar in Lewis in the 1950s who wouldn't register a baby girl as Catrìona - she had to be Catherine on the paperwork. It was all part of the insidious erasure of our culture.


Sad but enlightening story. Reminds me of Nazi occupation of Luxembourg where all the French first names were given a German form. Fortunately, after WW2, all the birth certificates were rectified.


No. It's the vocative case.

  • 1194

It is interesting to me that yhis isbeing translated as James, not Hamish.


So if Hamish is wrong, how would you say Hamish? Its a perfectly acceptable name in English/Scots.

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