Pronunciation of Scottish Place Names

Pronunciation of Scottish Place Names My name is Ronen and I am an English-to-Hebrew translator. I am working on the translation of a travel guide to Scotland. Unfortunately, as Hebrew uses a non-Latin writing system, I have to know how names are pronounced in order to transcribe them into Hebrew correctly. I have managed to […]

Pronunciation of Scottish Place Names

My name is Ronen and I am an English-to-Hebrew translator. I am working on the translation of a travel guide to Scotland. Unfortunately, as Hebrew uses a non-Latin writing system, I have to know how names are pronounced in order to transcribe them into Hebrew correctly. I have managed to find IPA pronunciation guides or sound files for almost all names, but several have eluded me, and I would be very helpful to hints as to how these are pronounced in Scottish. IPA or a sound file will be best, but if you can tell me how they are pronounced in comparison to simple English words, that would also help me very much. The names are as follows: Chirnside, Crarae Garden, Moniaive, Innerleithen, Shambellie House, Taynuilt, and Traquair House.

The genuine Scottish language is Gaelic. A Pronouncing Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic was compiled by Henry Cyril Dieckhoff and was published by Gairm Publications, 29 Waterloo Street, Glasgow G2 6BZ in 1992.

In the book I’m translating, the place names appeared in these ‘Anglicized’ versions (I know that a few have also Gaelic versions). All I want to know is how they are pronounced by their inhabitants. It would be of great help (and will enable tourists to pronounce the place names right) if anyone could point out the correct pronunciation. I have read some references as to pronunciation, but they don’t seem to cover everything, as vowels are sometimes articulated very short or not at all.

Here’s how the names of the Scottish places are pronounced:

  • Chirnside –> Tchurn-side (“tch” as in “watch”)
  • Crarae Garden –> Krah-ray
  • Moniaive –> Moh-nee-ayv
  • Innerleithen –) inner (as in within) lee-thun
  • Shambellie House –> Sham bellyTaynuilt –> tay-noolt
  • Traquair House –> trah-kerr

Just one question – in ‘tay-noolt’ is that “tay” as in the word “day”?I will probably be back here with a few more questions as I continue the translation. “Tay” rhymes with “Day”, yes.

Here are a few more Scottish place names that I couldn’t find a sure pronunciation for on the net, or that my sources weren’t definitive about:

  • Eyemouth – is it like eye + mouth in English, or eye – mooth?
  • Skirling & Stirling – is the ‘ir’ like in ‘girl’ or ‘burn’ or is it a real i?
  • Dalavich – ch in end like ‘loch’ and german ‘Bach’ or like ‘lock’?
  • Kirroughtree – how is the ‘ough’ pronounced?
  • ShawheadCallander – kel-lan-der? kal-len-der? kal-lan-der?
  • Anstruther, Abbotsford, Aviemore – with an open ‘a’ or an ‘e’ at the beginning?
  • Kirriemuir – how is the ‘ui’ pronounced?

Eyemouth – as in the English eye + mouthSkirling & Stirling – “ir” as in “girl”Dalavich – like “tch” in “watch” – this is very rare in Scots; usually it would be as in the German “Bach”.Kirroughtree – how is the ‘ough’ pronounced? I’m not actually sure about this one! I would go with “aw”. Shawhead – shaw rhymes with paw, head as in EnglishCallander – Ka Lann Duhr (in Ka and Lann the a is short, as in “bath”)Anstruther, Abbotsford, Aviemore – short “a” as above.Kirriemuir – how is the ‘ui’ pronounced? a lone “oo” as in “moor”

One is not a place name but a famous Scottish dish – namely, cranachan. The other is a general question about the ending ‘town’ in Scottish place names (Wigtown, Grantown-on-Spey, Dufftown) – is it pronounced like in English, or as a long ‘o’? I could not find a definite answer.

Shieldaig –> sheel-dahch (long a as in car, ch as in Bach)Cranachan –> cran-ah-chahn (cran=short a as in bath, ah=long a as in car, chahn= ch as in Bach, ah as in car)Town in the context of Dufftown etc is pronounced “tun” – as in a ton of bricks.