"Ann an Obar Dheathain."

Translation:In Aberdeen.

September 12, 2020

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Does Obar Dheathain mean a meeting of rivers? Just curious.


Probably originally it meant the mouth of the river Don – but the name seems to have Pictish origins, so it doesn’t really have a clear meaning in modern Gaelic just as it doesn’t have in English. The part Aber/Obar meaning mouth of the river is analogous to native Gaelic inbhir.

I see a word abar in Dwelly’s dictionary supposedly meaning a place where two or more streams meet, but cannot find any other sources on it – if Dwelly’s right, then the first word could be a cognate of it, but with different meaning.

See the etymology of Aberdeen at Wiktionary: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aberdeen#Etymology and also an article on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_Aberdeen (the latter suggests that aber- in Pictish placenames indeed often means confluence of rivers).


How do I correctly pronounce Obar Dheathain???


The b is more like a p and the dh and th are either silent or barely voiced h sounds. (Which is -- as you may have been wondering -- why tha and thu are basically haa or aa, and uu.) I really wish they'd gone over the weird consonant + h combos first thing, at the very least.

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