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Re: samhain?

From:Thomas Leigh <thomas@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 2, 2004, 17:13
> ----- Original Message ----- > > why is 'samhain' pronounced 'saUen' ?
That is an Anglicization based on the modern Irish Gaelic pronunciation. In Scottish Gaelic the more common pronunciation is /sa~v@J/ (although some dialects do have /sa~w@J/. The name is also spelt Samhainn or (in traditional SG orthography) Samhuinn. The mh originally represented the nazalised labiodental fricative, in other words, a nasalized v /v~/. In modern Gaelic, the nasalization of the consonant is lost, in SG being transferred onto the adjacent vowel(s), and in IG being lost entirely (AFAIK). In modern IG intervocalic /v/ very often becomes labialized to /w/, forming a diphthong; in SG the situation is more complicated: it can remain /v/, be labialized to /w/, or disappear, depending on the word and dialect.
> ----- Original Message ----- > > I knew about this pronunciation. Would someone help me (us) with
> > pronunciation of the other three: Beltane, Imbolc and Lughnassadh? > > Beltane is actually an Anglicisation of "Bealtaine" > pronounced /bjOlhi:ni/ = "May".
What dialect of IG is that? Is it really pronounced with a lenited t? In SG it's spelt Bealltainn (older: Bealltuinn), pronounced /bjawl_d_0t_d@J/ or /bEwl_d_0t_d@J/. I've read that the "Beall"-/"Bel"- part of the name is supposedly the name of an old God whose name in Latinized form was Belus, and that the "-tain(n)" part is a development of the word for "fire" (mod. SG "teine"), so the name means "Belus' fire" and refers to the big bonfires which were traditionally lit at night on the eve of May 1 (and still are -- you should see the one they do in Edinburgh on top of a hill overlooking the city -- biggest freaking fire I've ever seen in my life! The naked, red people were interesting, too). "Imbolc" is not a modern Gaelic name; it violates the rules of both IG and SG orthography. I suspect it must have been lifted into English straight out of Old Gaelic (known to Irish imperialists and the ignorant as "Old Irish" ;-)) or some other language. If it is OG, then one must ascertain if the final "c" represents /k/ or /g/ (it stood for both in OG spelling). If /k/, then it will be something like /imbolk/, with no epenthetic vowel between the l and the c; however, if it was /g/, then there will be an epenthetic vowel: /imbol@g/. I have never seen this name in either modern SG or IG; does anybody know what it's supposed to mean? Lughnasagh (one "s") is also spelt "Lùnasadh" in SG, and is spelt "Lúnasa" in IG. The SG pronunciation is /l_du:n@s@G/. In IG it will be something like /l_du:n@s@/, as IG regularly loses final /G/. The modern SG name for the month of August is Lùnasdal (also spelt Lùnastal), /l_du:n@st@l_d/ Le meas, Thomas


John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Keith Gaughan <kmgaughan@...>