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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2003 (October-December) » Hello all! Can someone help me with a character in my book? « Previous Next »

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Colleen (67.70.253.98 - 67.70.253.98)
Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 10:30 am:   Edit Post Print Post

First, I'd like to say that this is a great website and I'm thrilled to have found this forum!

My questions are about a character in my book. His name is Iain and he's Irish. The first thing I'm wondering is if anyone spells Iain that way in Ireland. Anyone know?

Next question is some dialogue. He says: "Och. You don't really need an excuse now, do you?" He's kind of teasing, kind of flirting.

I just don't know if Och is only Scottish. Perhaps there's something better that means the same thing?

Anyway, that's all I needed. Now I'm off to read through some other posts. I'm learning sooo much!

Cheers,
Colleen :)

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Tomás (198.22.236.230 - 198.22.236.230)
Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 11:37 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Colleen, a chara,

"Iain" or "Ian" is more typically a Scottish name, but both forms are found in Ireland.

"Och" is an expression commonly prefacing utterances from the mouths of Irish men, women and children, particularly if they are from one of the nine counties of Ulster. Every other sentence out of my friend Eamonn's (Downpatrick, County Down) begins with "Och."

-- Tomás

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Colleen (67.70.253.98 - 67.70.253.98)
Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 11:51 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you Tomás!

I'm happy that I don't have to change his name; I'd grown particularly fond of it.

As for the "Och", that makes things much easier on me, because that's what I 'hear' him say in my head. Perhaps I picked it up from my Irish grandfather when he was alive.

Also,I have yet to explore Iain's backstory enough to know where he's from exactly. I guess it would be Ulster then! Works for me. *G* Now I'll have to pour over some maps and find an appropriate small town.

Thanks for your help,
Colleen :)

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Oliver Grennan (217.155.45.123 - 217.155.45.123)
Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 04:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I have a neighbour in Ireland who hasa grandson called Ian. It's spelt that way usually in Ireland. Anyway, it's an unusual name for the west of Ireland and when she speaks of him she adds the Irish dimunitive "ín" which means little.

Ianín, pronounced Ian-een, it sounds very funny.

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Colleen (67.70.253.98 - 67.70.253.98)
Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 04:56 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you for your info, Oliver. I looked on a map and found that County Down is in fact in the West. Thomás does say that anyone from any of the nine counties of Ulster would say 'Och' so I'm okay for that. I can just have him hailing from Donegal or somewhere in the North East.

As for his name, maybe he could have a Scottish parent or grandparent to explain the spelling? That wouldn't be totally out of the question, would it?

Cheers,
Colleen :)

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Tomás (198.22.236.230 - 198.22.236.230)
Posted on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 11:38 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Colleen, -- Your map must have been upside down. County Down is among the six counties of Ulster (there are nine Ulster counties in all; three in the Republic) that together comprise Northern Ireland. Down is on the east coast, bordered by the Irish Sea on the east, County Antrim on the north, County Armagh on the west and County Louth to the south.
-- Tomás

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Colleen (67.70.253.98 - 67.70.253.98)
Posted on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 02:33 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

LMAO! There was no symbol on the map in question and I wondered if 'up' was in fact North!
That's what I get for only consulting one source. *G* Thanks for straightening me out, Tomás. I'm heading to my atlas for an accurate map.

When I decide on a particular county and town, I'll verify it with you before using it in the story.

Thanks again for all your help,
Colleen :)

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Jonas (213.243.190.196 - 213.243.190.196)
Posted on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 04:54 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Collen, Iain is a name that sounds VERY Scottish indeed; not Irish. Of course an Irishman, as well as an Englishman or an American, may well be baptized Iain - still, it does not come across as Irish. There are lots of names, Seán, Séamus, Pádraig, Tomás, Mícheál, Muiris and so on.

If you want to use "och" I suggest you stick to Ulster. I haven't heard it anywhere in the west of Ireland, only in Scotland. The dialects spoken in Ulster are, as you may know, closely related to those in Scotland and very different from the rest of Ireland.

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Jonas (213.243.190.196 - 213.243.190.196)
Posted on Thursday, October 30, 2003 - 04:56 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I forgot to add that the Irish form of the Scottish "Iain" is "Seán". That's the reason why Iain doesn't sound Irish.

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Tomás (198.22.236.230 - 198.22.236.230)
Posted on Friday, October 31, 2003 - 01:22 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Colleen, -- Two points to follow up on what Jonas has written. If you are looking for a name that is typically Irish, Jonas is correct. Ian or Iain would not be typically Irish. It is quintessentially Scottish, but, as I said, both forms are indeed found in Ireland. My second point is that if your character Ian is from one of the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, names, like language, cannot escape the political morass. Being that Ian is a quintessentially Scottish name, and being that so many of the descendants of the Protestant Planter population trace their roots to Scotland, having the name Ian carries with it certain assumptions. If you were to round up all the Ians and Iains in the Six Counties, I'd guess that better than 90% of them would be from a Protestant/Unionist background. This would not be so much the case elsewhere in Ireland, outside of the Six Counties. The brother of one of my best friends is named Ian. My friend's family is most assuredly neither Protestant nor Unionist. -- Tomás

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PAD (12.89.95.136 - 12.89.95.136)
Posted on Friday, October 31, 2003 - 07:15 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Athbhlain faoi mhaise

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Colleen (199.246.2.11 - 199.246.2.11)
Posted on Saturday, November 01, 2003 - 08:25 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you both, Jonas and Tomás!

You're giving me a lot to think about. I haven't considered his religious background and it may or may not be necessary to my story, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.

So let me get this straight. If I leave his name as Iain, then he'd likely be a Protestant/Unionist from Ulster, who says 'Och'. But, if I change his name to something more Irish, then he could be either Protestant or Catholic and could come from anywhere in the country and wouldn't say 'Och'(unless he still came from Ulster). Is this right?

So, my next question is, if I move him and he doesn't say Och, what would he say? It's something that means 'Come now' or 'Well now'. Or would he just say 'Come now'?

You guys have been so helpful on this, btw. I really appreciate it. *G*

Cheers,
Colleen

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Maidhc Ó G. (67.235.185.236 - 67.235.185.236)
Posted on Saturday, November 01, 2003 - 03:29 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Colleen,
As exclamations at the beginning of sentences - "Well,..." Bhoil,...
"Anyway/At any rate,..." Ar aon nós,...

Slán,
-Maidhc.

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Colleen (199.246.2.11 - 199.246.2.11)
Posted on Sunday, November 02, 2003 - 08:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Thank you, Maidhc.

Now I'll spend some time on this site figuring out how to pronounce those words properly for the reader's sake. Perhaps, I'll work in a scene where Iain (or whatever his name is!) explains it to the other main character, thereby giving me an excuse to explain the pronounciation to the reader.

Your info has been wonderfully helpful, as is everyone elses. It's nice to get such a good response as a newcomer to the forum.

Cheers,
Colleen :)

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Maidhc Ó G. (67.235.185.141 - 67.235.185.141)
Posted on Monday, November 03, 2003 - 01:47 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Fáilte romhat, a Chailín.
As far as pronunciation goes,"bhoil" is pronounced the same as in English. "Ar aon nós" sounds pretty much like,"Er ay nohss*
(* Say 'nose' only with the 's' like in 'hiss'.)
Le meas,
-Maidhc.

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