|Some Masculine Ogham Names|
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Some Masculine Ogham Names
by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
IntroductionThe earliest surviving written form of Irish dates from around the 4th century. It was written on stone in the alphabet called Ogham. When this writing tradition developed, the Irish language was very different from the medieval form, about as different as Latin is from French. This stage of the language is variously called Primitive Irish, Ogam Irish, or Oghamic Irish.
This writing system continued in active use into the 7th century, and while it was in active use, its users tended to write a conservative form of the language corresponding to what was spoken when the system was developed. The spoken language, however, was undergoing considerable change. When a new writing system using Roman letters was developed in the 6th century, its users broke with tradition and wrote a language much closer to what was actually being spoken. This stage of the language, as recorded from the late 7th century to the mid-10th century, is called Old Irish.
The NamesThis article offers a list of some masculine names that appear in surviving Ogham inscriptions, plus a brief guide to the construction of Ogham names. The list below focuses on masculine names for the simple reason that there is exactly one woman's name in surviving Ogham inscriptions: Auitoriga.
The names listed below were extracted from McManus, along with Old Irish equivalents when those are clear. The dates of these names span a couple significant changes in the Irish language, so the names aren't automatically cross-compatible; however, this list provides a starting point for those interested in constructing authentic early Irish names.
The list presented here was originally compiled as input for Academy of Saint Gabriel client 1738, but has been significantly revised based on further research.
Two grammatical forms are given for each name: nominative (used in the subject of a sentence or in direct address) and genitive (possessive). For each name, only one form appears in the historical sources -- usually the -- genitive. I have inferred the other form from the grammatical patterns of the period. These postulated forms are shown in italics. Letters whose reading is not clear in the original inscriptions are indicated in [square brackets]. A few names appear in Latin, Roman-letter inscriptions rather than Ogham ones; these are marked [Lat.].
For most names, I have also provided Old Irish forms of the same name, i.e. the forms into which the original Oghamic name evolved. Most of these equivalences are given by McManus or other authorities; some are my guesses, and those are italicized. A question mark indicates greater uncertainty on McManus' part or my own. In a few cases, McManus provides the equivalent genitive form, indicated here with the abbreviation [gen] before the name; the nominative, [nom], is listed for most of these names. In some other cases, McManus provides several nominative forms, which I have listed. If these are separated by a right-caret, >, they represent further evolution of the name, i.e. the form on the left is earlier than that on the right. The number following each name identifies the inscription(s) in which it was found. McManus uses these numbers, which refer to listings in Macalister.
It is not always trivial to deduce the nominative form of a name from its genitive. Oghamic Irish grammar was complex and not entirely regular. Scholarly works on the language have provided the answer in many cases, but in others I have had to rely on less direct evidence, including patterns in Gaulish, a closely related language. I have presented my reasoning in detail in an appendix.
Construction of Ogham NamesIn Ogham inscriptions, both men and women are typically identified by a given name and a patronymic byname. The bynames are of two types: simple patronymics that identify the person's father, and tribal names. For example, a man named Dovagnas son of Rodagnas of the tribe of Moddagnas could be called Dovagnas maqqas Rodagni "Dovagnas son of Rodagni" or Dovagnas maqqas mucoi Moggagni "Dovagnas son of the tribe of Moggagnas".
Similarly, a woman named Auitoriga daughter of Rodagnas could have been identified as Auitoriga inigena Rodagni "Auitoriga daughter of Rodagnas".
Pronunciation of Ogham NamesThe pronunciation of Ogham names is not obvious: The letter-to-sound correspondance is quite different from that used in modern English, modern Irish, and Old Irish. Furthermore, the pronunciation changed considerably over time. Choosing a pronunciation appropriate for a particular time in history requires some expert knowledge.
Index of NamesNames are alphabetized by nominative Ogham form. Hypothetical forms (which do not appear in any inscription) are shown in italics.
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