In the ever-continuing American-Scottish word games via cyberspace, Sheelagh played the word “swede” which prompted an instant message discussion that went something like this:
Me: Isn’t a “swede”, aka a rutabaga over here, also called a neep…as in tatties and neeps?
Shee: Swede is what the English call a neep…but the Swede and turnip are slightly different..one is a purple and white smaller item and the other a larger yellow/orange colour…the Scots tend to use the latter and call them neeps xx
Me: Yeah, the orangey one is what we call a rutabaga; the white -purple one we also call a turnip….
Shee: Love the name rutabaga…Indian??
Shee: It is just a fabbo name. Do you ever have trouble pronouncing the longer Indian names? I am sure I would be a disaster when travelling thru some of their villages and towns!!!
Me: Huh?! Have you LOOKED at the Ghaidhlig words???? lol Tell me how to pronounce Drmmnadrochit and I’ll teach you how to say Skaneateles. Actually, most of our State names are Indian in origin. The list of Indigenous words morphed in to place names is very, very long.
Drumnadrochit comes from the Ghaidhlig ‘druim na drochaid’ meaning the ‘Ridge of the Bridge’ and pronounced “DRUM na DRoK it”. Skaneateles is pronounced “Skinny-atlis” which means “long lake” in Iroquois. It’s on one of the Finger Lakes in Upstate NY.
Places are often named for what they are. In Scotland: Inverness, at the head of the river Ness; Ard, point; Dun, hill; Kirk, a church or fort. In the US: Lake Okeechobee, big water, Housatonic (River) means beyond the mountain place, and Mississippi, the big river. One of my favorites is Malibu, which roughly translates as “the surf makes a loud noise all the time over there”.
There are many names that come from landforms (Craig, Cliff, Glyn, Glen, Dale, Marina), and ones that come from plants (Rose, Amber, Violet). Names come from nature in general (Dawn, Star) and the list becomes greatly expanded when the myriad of languages other than English are used. While I chose the name Kyle for my son because of its meaning “handsome”, it also comes from the Ghaidhlig for a narrow channel of water.