bi Paul Kavanagh

Click here tae read this airticle in Inglish
Click here tae read this airticle in Gaelic

Scotland’s national leids haes tradeitionally been kep oot o public signs an notices.   This stertit tae chynge slawly in the hinn-enn o the 20t century an inti the day, an noo the Gaelic  haes a wee but growin yuis on signs and notices in public places.  In the Pairlament biggin aa public signs is in Inglish an the Gaelic, giein the Gaelic aiqual dignity an respec at Holyruid – an that is exactly hoo it suid be.  Bit the Gaelic stull haes a lang wey tae gang afore public signs an notices in the leid is seen fur common, altho a siccar fuithaud haes noo been estaiblisht.

Gaelic speakers yuises trains an aa.  In 1996 Scotrail stertit tae yuise the Gaelic version o steidnames on railwey station signs.  Tae stert aff wi juist thae stations north o Inverness an thaim on the Wast Hielan Line wis gien bilingual signage, yuisally wi the Gaelic ablow the Inglish, but Scotrail haes slawly eikit ti the coverage.  Fae Mairch 2010 bilingual Inglish-Gaelic signs stertit tae kythe on stations in the Lallans as signage wis renewed in Scotrail’s new-brandit ‘Saltire’ style.  

Proveision o Gaelic station signs is stull spatty.  As Scotrail gaes renewin its station signage, monolingual signs is tae be chynged fur bilingual signs.  No ilka steid in Scotland at haes an offeicially recognised Gaelic name haes bilingual station signs, bit whit wi naitral docher as station signs is replaced , Gaelic names wull stert tae come mair veisible athort the netwark.  

Gaun yersel Scotrail fur rollin oot Gaelic station signage.  Giein the leid a public presence, aa the mair on muckle transport gates, furmly estaiblishes at Scotland is its ain kintra wi its ain kenspeckle linguistic heritage.  Ther suid be signs in the Gaelic at ilka yin o the train stations in Scotland.

Bit Gaelic station names ainerly gies a pairt o oor story, ilka thing at applies ti the Gaelic applies ti Lallans Scots an aa.  Yit Scots steidnames haes nae presence naewhaur at aa on the railwey netwark, nor just aboot nae-whaur ense fur that maitter.  This is no fair.  Scots is aiqually wurdy o respeck an recognition.  Scotland haes twa national leids, an baith is aiqually the national leids o aa o Scotland.  Whit we dae as a society fur the Gaelic, we soud dae fur Scots an aa.

It’s time A cam oot o the closet.  A’m no juist a langages geek, A’m a train geek an aa.  It’s ma private shame, altho A sweir blin A’v nivver stuid at the enn of a station platform an A dinnae awn an anorak.  A wheen month back A ettilt tae finn a cairte o Scotland’s Gaelic railwey stations, bit A cudna finn nane at aa.  Raicent publicity an information daes shaw the Gaelic station names alang wi Inglish, bit A wis wantin a Gaelic cairte o aa o Scotland’s railwey lines, shawin aa the stations in the kintra.

Bit ti ma surprise A funn oot at sic a cairte isnae available in Inglish, nivver mind Gaelic or Scots.  Ther cairtes o mainline routes, cairtes o regional routes an commuter routes, bit ther nae  single schematic cairte at shaws aa the railwey lines an stations in the kintra.

Sae A pit ma mynd ti makin a cairte an tae pit it here on Newsnet whaur it’s free fur oniebuddie tae yuise.  A tuik the braw railwey cairte o Strathclyde, itsel based on the classic 1931 design fur depictin the Lunnin Unnergroond netwark, an eikit ti it sae it kivvers the hale o Scotland.  A haed tae mak the inter-city routes a tait mair semple, bit aa Scots passenger railwey lines an train stations is shawn on this new cairte.  A’v duin the cairte in Inglish, Gaelic an Scots.  

A howp thir cairtes wull help sperk debate anent the quaistion o giein aa oor towns, cities and veillages offeicially recognised names in aa three o oor national leids – as weill as giein us a fun new wey tae loass wursels on the Scots railwey netwark.  

On the Gaelic cairte the names is offeicially recognised names, whaur sic names exists.   ‘Offeicial’ fur Gaelic A tuik as thae names at kythes in the Ainmean Àite na h-Alba database or in the leit o Gaelic steid names produced fur Holyruid ceivil servants bi Iain Mac an Tàilleir.  Names wioot offeicial recognition is mairkit wi an asterisk.

Nae Scots steidname is offeicially recognised, an ther een thaim at wid airgie at it’s no possible tae mak a cairte o Scotland in Scots.  A beg tae differ.  Bit aa the Scots names gied on the Scots cairte suid be taen as unoffeicial an proveisional.  

Ithers wull mibbie differ wi ma chyce o names in Scots or Gaelic.  A’m no sayin at the unoffeicial names A’v gied on thir maps is the proper or the richt vairsions, fur that raison aa no-offeicial Gaelic names haes been clairly mairkit siclike on thir maps.  

A duin thir maps fur twa muckle raisons.  Furst aff A duin thaim akis we suid estaiblish the principle at ilka steid in Scotland suid hae offeicially recognised names in English, Gaelic an Scots and that it’s perfecly possible tae sort acceptable Gaelic and Scots names fur ilka steid in the kintra.  An we suid estaiblish the principle at Gaelic and Scots suid be yuised on maps.   

Ther no raison onie steid haes tae stey wioot a Gaelic name juist akis ther nae tradeitional Gaelic name fur it.  Efter aa, Gaelic an Scots is no museum pieces, thae ar livin breathin leids.  Tae be a livin leid means a leid is yuised creatively an expressively. Whan a leid staps bein yuised creatively it dees.

Bit saicond, an aiblins mair important, A juist wantit tae see whit cairtes o Scotland in Gaelic an Scots wid leuk like.   Thae provide a different view of our country, a decidedly non-English language view.  It’s a vizzie we aa need tae hae, at least occasionally, tae mynd oorsels o an important pairt o wha we ar.

Cairtes haes been takin up a muckle o ma raicent time.  As weill as thir railwey cairtes A’m in the hinnmaist stages o producing a muckle road cairte o Scotland.  This cairte hauds ower 1800 names an A hae duin twa vairsions, yae in Gaelic an yae in Scots.  We howp tae publish thir cairtes on Newsnet afore lang.  We howp tae produce prentit copies an aa.

I’d like tae thank Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh fur aa his help in producin the Gaelic cairtes an fur owersettin this airticle inti a faur mair elegant Gaelic nor A I coud howp tae screive masel.


2011-08-21 15:17

Jings! It maun hae be a sair fecht gettin aw that thegither. Whaur did ye get aw thae Scots names fae? Ye wrate that the Scots names is juist unoffeecial an proveesional, sae aiblins they juist reflect yer soources, but A wunnert aboot the follaein. Wad the l in the likes o Balmossie, Dalmally and Dalwhinnie no hae been vocalised in Scots? Think on Ba’weary in Stevenson’s Thrawn Janet. Why a guid Scots spellin like Shieldmuir wis chynged tae Shieldmair? Why Embra an Musselburrie but Helensburgh?
Kirkhull, Kirwid, Whinhull; Why a ‘u’ in hull but no in kirk, wid or whin, but in Wulliam an Whufflit but no in Kilwinnin or Daulwhinnie?
Why ‘oa’ in Croass but no in Balmossie, Plocktoun or Portlethen?
2011-08-21 16:25

Some o the Scots names cam fae the Scots Cairte published bi MMA Maps in 1993 (noo oot o prent). Ithers wis fae Wikipedia, ithers fae leukin throu the citations in the Scots National Dictionar fur steidnames. (Tuik me hours.) Ithers akis A ken the area an yuise the Scots names masel or ken fowk at dis. Ithers wis juist fae speirin fowk whit thae cry whaur thae stey.

The Scots cairte wis haurder tae dae nor the Gaelic yin, an A’m less happy wi it. Ther resources tae yuise fur Gaelic steid names, bit aamaist naethin fur Scots. The wittins at exists is aa ower the shop. Ther nae “Handy List of Scots Language Place Names for Use on Railway Stations.” (Ther is fur Gaelic, the Ainmean Àite na h-Alba database, tho it’s no got names fur ilka station.)

The names yuised on the Scots cairte is inconsistent in spellin. A’ve yuised a mixter-maxter o tradeitional Scots spellin an phonetic spellin. Baith is yuised in screivin Scots in modrin Scotland. A’m no gaunie fend o in “Balmossie” bit oa in “Croass”. An suid it mibbie no be corse or cors and no cross or croass onieweys? Hoo we want tae spell Scots steid names is a quaistion A cannae answer bi masel, aa A kin dae is shaw some o the possibilities.

We hiv tae stert somewhaur. A thocht it better tae dae a cairte an than we kin discuss the best furm o ilka name, raither nor argyie ti the coos comes hame ower spellin an nivver hae onie cairtes at aa. Yince ye hae a cairte ye kin chynge the names on it an it’s no as muckle a darg as stertin a cairte fae zero. A duin this cairte fae zero, sae ye kin tak ma wurd fur that!

Paul Kavanagh

2011-08-22 17:16

Weel deen Manny!
Ye maun hae hin a fair tyauve wi yon projeck!

Ah howp Ahm nae gan abeen masel in maakin a pucklie suggestions?

Fit aboot Milltoon o Strathbogie (an Strath Bhalgaidh in i Gaelic) for Huntly?
Inch ir Intch fir Insch ciz at’s mair phonetic like (fit’s doric fir phonetic? Revairse i chairges?).

An mibbies, if ye wintit, Inversecky fir Inverness, Lowrie fir Lowrencekirk an Stoney (or Steenie) fir Steenhyve?
Bit jist if ye wintit til myn.
2011-09-16 22:29

Weel duin Paul. I cuidna agree mair that haein the banes o sic a cairte gies us a sair-needit stert. Whan I hae time I whiles reenge throu auld maps an it’s weel seen that nae lang efter the sae-cried union o 1707 mony cairtographers decidit tae chynge mony Scots names tae refleck the reality that Scotland haed turnt intae nae mair nor a province an that we cuid nae langer gang oor ain gate on spellins even on oor ain placenames. It’s richt tae chynge town or ton tae toun an mony a hall wis haugh at the ootset an maun be correctit. Houiver we mauna chynge Musselburgh or Edinburgh – they’r lang-staunin historical names that wur aye cried that. Mind ye “burgh” haes whiles been pronooncit as broch in some pairts. In Moray there’s a toun cried Burghead that wis cried Brocheid up tae 1805. The folk that bide there aye cry it the broch yit. Twa-thrie year syne I makkit a leet o signs that aiblins cuid be a stert tae forder Scots yaisage. Example – Fairfaw ye tae Musselburgh the Honest Toun. The idea wis tae hae sic a sign pitten at the port tae a toun whaur ye cuid haurdly miss it!! Whitiver a toun is famous for ye cuid aiblins hae a sign for it. Hou aboot – Fairfaw ye tae St.Andrew’s the hame o gowf, or Fairfaw ye tae Dunbar Hametoun o John Muir (Muir wis a native Scots speiker afore he emigratit tae America). Ony nummer o possibilities there. Onywey yer cairte is braw Paul,keep up the guid wark.
2011-11-25 23:56

Paul, Whit ye wad need tae dae is gaither thegither aw sindry opeenions on hou tae pronoonce a placename an whuther that cuid or shuid be reflectit in the wey ye wad spell a placename. Aiblins ye are richt tae lug-in tae folk sayin Embra or Musselburrie but speik tae local folk an they’ll maistly haud wi the praesent spellins which efter aw are Scots awready! Therr’s even a guid-gaun argaement for pronooncin Burgh as “Broch” which ye cuid jalouse wis the oreeginal wey o pronooncin it. O coorse therr’s nae wey o pruivin thon, it’s juist a theory o mine. Best tae haud tae whit we ken best I suppose. Onywey guid luck wi the ongaun projeck Paul.

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