Gaelscéal : Should Scottish place-names be translated into English?

‘Aistrigh na logainmneacha go Béarla’

Eric Joyce MP, a ciontaíodh as ionsaithe a dhéanamh ar MPs eile, ag teacht amach in aghaidh na Gaeilge!

Anton Mac Cába

Tá an dearg-ádh ar Ghaeil na hAlban agus an saghas namhaid atá ag teanga s’acu.

Tá an Feisire Eric Joyce acu. Thug sé an masla is déanaí do Ghaeilgeoirí na hAlban agus é ag tuíteáil: “Why not try English? We’ll all understand you that way, not just your neighbour. Alternatively, just shout across the fence.”

Gaelscéal na seachtaine seo

Le coicís anuas, dúirt sé go raibh logainmneacha Gaeilge “inane and meaningless”: nach raibh san fhilíocht Ghaeilge ach “basically doggerel”: agus gur “Big Brumm” an Ghaeilge ar chairr in Alban.

Toghadh Joyce mar fheisire de chuid an Lucht Oibre do toghcheantar na hEaglaise Breac in 2000. I mí Feabhra na bliana seo, ciontaíodh é as ionsaí a dhéanamh ar fheisire de chuid na gCaomhach, ar fheisire óna pháirtí féin, agus ar beirt fhear eile.

Bhí sé an-ólta i mbeár i Westminster ag an am. D’éirigh sé as an Lucht Oibre ina dhiaidh sin.

Bhí sé ar an gcéad fheisire Westminster a chuir isteach ar bhreis agus £1milliún (€1.25milliún) de chostais. Bhí dhá olaphictiúr i measc na gcostas sin. Dúirt sé gur cheannaigh sé iad “mar go raibh cuma dheas orthu.”

ach má tá an t-ádh le Gaeil na hAlban, tá mí-ádh ar Ceiltigh Glaschú as an tacaíocht a fhaigheann siad uaidh.“Celtic are the gods of football,” a tuíteáil sé tar éis dóibh buachaint ar Bharcelona.

Gaeil na hAlban : Scottish Gaels

Lucht Oibre : Labour 

An Eaglais Bhreac : Falkirk

Ceiltigh Glaschú : Glasgow Celtic (a Scottish Soccer Club)


  • Reader

    “Ceiltigh Glaschú : Glasgow Celtic (a Scottish Soccer Club)”
    Is that a hard or a soft “C” at the beginning of Ceiltigh?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Yes of course they should….
    but also no they never should…

    Does it apply vice versa?

    Obviously it also applies here. Many if not most placenames are actually neither, they are derived from Gaelic, Norse, Scots, English or other languages, all of which have regional variations and continually evolve, as have the names often in different directions.

    Names are an extremely inportant thing, they shouldn’t really be messed with.

  • Ciarán Dunbar


    /kʲ/ is the sound, as a person in rural Ulster pronounces the word ‘car’.


    Obviously, it is not a serious story. It is light relief.

  • What about Caithness? At least three names apply here: ‘Caitnes’ in the Scots and ‘Gallaibh’ in the Gaelic. The last of those is telling: ‘land of the Galls’. In other words, this was never a Gaelic-speaking territory, nor even (for any extended period) Scots-speaking. Until the language was extinguished (15th-century?) the language was Norn (and the dialect is still nearer to Orkney than Inverness).

    The wikipedia references lead to a nice spat, reported in The Scotsman:

    Eight councillors signed a motion arguing that “the blanket roll-out of bilingual signs in the Highlands should only proceed where there exists significant local demand for such a policy”.

    David Bremner said the motion was not anti-Gaelic. But he insisted: “Across Caithness, in community councils, on the streets and in the workplace, there is no wish for this.”

    He referred to the Norse influence on the county, with places like Lybster named by the Vikings, and also Pictish history. He said Hebridean fishermen speaking Gaelic came to Caithness later, as “economic migrants”.

    “I’m not saying Gaelic was never spoken in Caithness, but the history of our county is rich and diverse with Norse influence and Gaelic influence.”

    His colleague Graeme Smith said the signs would be inappropriate and the presence of “this barely indigenous language” would mislead tourists. “If I go to the local Tesco I hear Polish, in the pub I hear Polish, Urdu and Latvian. To hear Gaelic in Caithness, I have to turn on the TV or go to the hall where the Gaelic choir is practising.

    “When Gaelic is commonly heard in the school playground, the pub, post office or local shop then it will be time enough to introduce this homogenised dictate.”

    I’d love to homogenise a diktat or dictate.

  • Desmond Trellace

    Samhlaím dom féin ar uaire a áille is a bheadh ár n-oileánra breá ar chósta thiar na hEorpa mura mbeadh na haineolaigh glórach uile ann!

    Ein frommer Wunsch!

  • Online attacks on Gaelic language ‘just a bit of fun’:

    The criticism began on October 22, when he questioned why Scottish mountains have “daft, undescriptive (sic)” Gaelic names, later describing them as “inane and meaningless”.

    He cannot be serious 🙂

  • Greenflag

    I can just see a wandering tourist in Fife asking for directions to the ‘Uplands of the Wild Boar ‘ instead of Auchtermuchty .
    Uachtar means ‘upper ‘in Irish and Scots Gaelic . Thus in Connemara there is Camus Uachtar and a Camus Iochtar (lower) and then you have the McWilliams Upper (MacLiam Uachtar and the MacLiam’s Iochtar ) Lower McWilliams .

    This is topographically different from say Baggot St Upper and Lower Baggot St . In the case of the latter there are no mountains or hills involved unless one is inebriatyed following a session in O’Donoughue’s of Merrion Row .

    Taken to a linguistic extreme and moving on from place names to people’s surnames would cause much more confusion and indeed some hilarity .

    Mr Cameron would be known as Mr Twisty Nose – Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy would go by the name of Charles Broadhead . Campbells would be called ‘wry mouths ‘ and Kilbrides as Bridgid’s Wood . Meanwhile MacIntoshes would revel in the name of Son of the Leader while all the Gils- Gilchrist , Gillespie, Gilmore , would be reduced to servant status as in Servant of Christ , Bishops’servant and Big Servant .

    And so to Auchtermuchty’s connection with Dublin ?

    The foundeer of Arnott’s Sir John Arnott MP hailed from the uplands of the wild boars as did the famous accordeonist Sir Jimmy Shand .

    You can go to Auchtermuchty and to Drumnadrochit too, but you’ll never find a Nessie in the zoo”.

    For more on Auchtermuchty

    As a rule the anglicisation of Gaelic placenames be they in Ireland or Scotland was usually compressed in English to the shortest possible combination of syllables which came closet to the original gaelic . However I can imagine that many of these place names are given a Gaelic remake or an English literal translation then the Highlands and other areas of Scotland will have the world’s largest signposts directing travellers to some of the bleakest and most barren but beautiful places on the planet .

    Leave well enough alone ?