Update to Gaelic place names mystery
As I said, when writing about the Gaelic mountains workshop earlier this week I have been curious to know the correct pronunciation of Ben Chonzie, a Munro near Comrie in Perthshire.
Cailean Maclean kindly said he would look into this for me. Here is what he discovered:
I have been looking at what the experts say about Ben Chonzie. Watson, in his Celtic Place-Names of Scotland, reckons that in Gaelic it is Beinn Chomhainn – the latter word being the same name as in Gleann Comhann or Glencoe.
That would seem to be a possibility but Peter McNiven’s PhD thesis of 2011 gives a more plausible explanation to my mind.
He thinks that the latter part of the names Ben Chonzie and Gartchonzie near Menteith come from the Gaelic word Còinneach, for moss. So it would be Beinn Chòinnich, the mossy hill.
I’m not sure if I can find the appropriate words to tell you how to pronounce Beinn (try the websites). (Note,I think: Beyinn.)
Chòinnich would be:
- Cho (the o as in ’phone)
- nich (the n being close to the Spanish n in words like senor or nyu).
One other bit of evidence support in the Chòinnich theory is that the ending of the Gaelic word Mac Coinnich (MacKenzie) sounds exactly like Chòinnich and it is similarly anglicised as ‘…nzie.’
I am sure that the z in the anglicised form was originally the old Scots letter which looked like a z but sounded as a j in Middle Scots and as a yh in Early Scots. Certainly the yh sounds approximates to the Spanish n Senor sound.
So, to summarise, I think it was Beinn Chòinnich, originally meaning mossy hill.
Thanks Cailean. All this is really interesting and makes me want to study places names further.