Thursday 21 July 2011

The Gaels Have a Word for It

John Ewen MacRury (1853–1909)
John Ewen (Iain Eòghann) MacRury, from Torlum, Benbecula, and the various materials that he collected for Alexander Carmichael has been the subject of numerous blogs on previous occasions. Here, for example, are a couple of very useful words if you ever get into a dispute and are looking for just the right words:

Feicheantas a common word
in olden times for an arugment [sic]
between man and wife about
paltry dispuits [sic], especially when
such dispute took place regarding
each other’s people.

Cramhan is a continual
low murmuring complaint
by any person kept up for
no other purpose than to keep
on grumbling and dissatisfy[ing]

Both these words can be found in Dwelly’s dictionary where they are glossed as ‘friendly dispute’ under the heading féicheanas and as ‘unceasing, vexatious talk’ under the heading cnàmhan. MacRury’s definitions are certainly more colourful that those given by Dwelly and reflect the intricate nuances of a rich Gaelic vocabulary.

CW1/106 & 107, f. 111r.
Dwelly, Edward, The Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary (Glasgow, 1994), p. 217 & p. 426.
Image: John Ewen MacRury (1853–1909). Reproduced with the kind permission of Calum Laing.

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Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4

Stone whorls WHM 1992 13 2.4
Stone whorls collected by Alexander Carmichael, held by West Highland Museum (ref. WHM 1992 13 2.4). [©]