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Byname (was: Digest Number 768)

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  • Sharon L. Krossa
    Note that below I m leaving out the accent that should be on -- in period, the has an acute accent (going this / direction) and modernly in Scottish
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 21, 2005
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      Note that below I'm leaving out the accent that
      should be on <Mor> -- in period, the <o> has an
      acute accent (going this / direction) and
      modernly in Scottish Gaelic a grave accent (going
      this \ direction).

      At 10:33 PM -0700 4/20/05, david smith wrote:
      >So would Mor be used to denote senor or size ie “no, Brian Mor
      >Allan, Brain Allan’s da’ or ‘you know, Brian Mor Allan, that tall
      >lad with fists like hams’

      Well, first it's usually used in Gaelic, so it
      wouldn't normally be found with a non-Gaelic
      surname like <Allan>, but leaving that aside...

      Historically, and to the best of my knowledge
      also modernly, <Mor> is used very similarly to
      how <Big> is used in modern informal English. So,
      <Eoin Mor> is like (modern) <Big John>. Sometimes
      a man called <Big John> is called that because
      he's physically very big (tall and/or otherwise
      big), sometimes a man is called <Big John>
      because he's older than another <John> (and they
      may or may not be father and son or even related).

      Also, like modern English <Big> in <Big John>,
      modernly <Mor> is not part of the official legal
      name -- it doesn't show up on birth certificates,
      etc., though it may show up as part of an alias.
      ("Legal name" in the modern sense is something
      that really didn't exist in period.)

      When used with another byname, both historically
      and modernly, descriptive bynames like <Mor> come
      after the given name and before the (historical)
      patronymic byname or (modern) family byname. So,
      a (fictitious, late) period example would be
      <Eoin Mor mac Dhomhnaill>, "Big John son of
      Donald", and a modern example would be <Eoin Mor
      Mac Dhomhnaill>, "Big John MacDonald". (This is
      mainly because in Gaelic adjectives normally come
      after the nouns the modify, unlike in English
      where they normally come before.)

      Historically Gaels only had one given name, so
      the issue of second given names or middle names
      and <Mor> doesn't arise. Modernly, although many
      Gaels do have second given names, I don't believe
      I've ever seen a descriptive byname used with
      both given names -- that is, in those contexts
      where middle names are used, the <Mor> isn't
      normally used, and in those contexts where <Mor>
      is used, the second given name isn't normally
      used. Again, this is like how <Big> is used in
      modern informal English -- <Big John> is either
      <Big John MacDonald> or <John James MacDonald>,
      but not normally <Big John James MacDonald>.

      Probably more than any of you wanted to know, but you got me going!

      Sharon, ska Affrick
      Sharon Krossa, skrossa-ml@...
      Resources for Scottish history, names, clothing, language & more:
      Medieval Scotland - http://www.MedievalScotland.org/
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