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Subject: Re: seeming mistakes
From: DAVID GRESSETT <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Thu, 30 Aug 2007 18:39:10 -0500

text/plain (35 lines)

Massimo wrote:
> Last week I was in An t-Ob, on the island of Harris (Na Hearradh, na h-
> Eileanan Siar, Alba) . I am almost sure to have read this sign entering the 
> village: Fàilte gun t-Ob. In my very humble opinion it should be "Fàilte gun 
> Ob", since Ob is in dative case. Any explanation about that?
> Just to keep on with apparent mistakes I noticed on British Meteo Office web 
> site "Highlands and Eilean Siar". I think that Eilean can be nominative singular 
> or genitive plural in traditional declination (as in Comhairle nan Eilean). Since 
> there is no genitive in that sentence I would translate "Highland and western 
> island", but I ever read "western Islands" (plural). Is it possible that 
> governative web site got wrong?
> Le meas
> Massimo 
 From Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh 158:
  I would like to explain the place name an t-O\b (Leverburgh, in the 
south of Harris) this week because, if you are unfamiliar with it, it 
seems to provide a grammatical conundrum. O\b means a "small, relatively 
land-locked bay"; it is masculine and it occurs in the nominative case, 
as would be expected, preceded by a t- (cf an t-eilean, an t-o\rd). It 
first appears in the Litir in the dative case – anns an t-O\b. In such a 
situation, we would normally drop the initial t-, getting anns an O\b 
(cf anns an eilean, air an o\rd). But this is not what the people of 
Harris say. They say anns an t-O\b, ie it does not follow the rules. So 
we retain the t- in the spelling in the dative. The genitive case is 
even more obtuse. It appears in the Litir as cidhe an t-O\ib and port an 
t-O\ib (the quay and harbour of Leverburgh respectively). So the t- is 
retained in the genitive (cf loch an eilein, ceann an u\ird). It is 
however slenderised, as would be expected, although the pronunciation of 
the slenderised vowel is a little unusual ("uhn TE\B"). Why does it not 
follow the rules? My guess is that its origin, as a loan-word from the 
old Norse ho/p, may be the reason.

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