November 25th, 2012


Ogham and Rune Transliterations: It Seems I'm Stumped On Things

I have a project I want to work on, but I'm having difficulty with certain letters. Specifically, I want to do something with people's initials, but I can't really do that until I have all the English letters figured out.

Since Old Irish (and Ogam) just doesn't have all these letters (you know, being Q-Celtic and all, plus decidedly not Latin), I'm running into some issues with the transliterations.

Anyone with a deeper knowledge than me care to take a stab at where some English letters might fall? Here's what I've got so far:

beith - B
luis - L
fearn - F, V, W
saille - S
nuin - N
úath - H, J
duir - D
tinne - T
coll - C, K
ceirt - Q
muin - M
gort - G
gétal - NG
straif - Z
ruis - R
ailm - A
onn - O
úr - U
edad - E
idad - I

ébad - EA, (X?)
óir - OI
uillenn - UI, Y
iphin - IO (P?)
emancholl - AE (X?)

I'm pretty comfortable with H and J being together at úath, F and V being together in fearn, and C and K being together in coll. Obviously, my biggest issues are with the letters X, W, Y, and P. Here's what I've surmised about these:

  • X - Apparently, ébadis occasionally used as an "X" in inscriptions, but emancholl occasionally takes the /ch/ sound that would be associated with an X. I'm leaning toward emancholl at the moment.
  • W - I currently have W listed with F and V, but I'm not sure it belongs there. It may be better suited to the letter "B" given the change in the Germanic /w/ over time. Still, fearn as a letter name has its roots in the PIE *werna, so I've stuck it there.
  • Y - Y can end up in uillenn easiest, I think, but McManus suggested it show up instead in úath
  • P - This is perhaps the most complicated, as iphin was apparently "originally" a P-sound, pín, making it a possible candidate, but then it became a diphthong. Wikipedia also describes an ogham, peith, which is line beside the line. The question then becomes, which to use here?
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With runes, it's much clearer. V goes with F because of the /f/ sound, Y with U because of the /u/ sound common in Germanic languages with the letter, K with C for obvious reasons, X with Z because of the Americanization of X as a /z/ for things like "xylophone" and "Xander." Q was the hardest, but I followed Thorsson on that one.

Feel free to comment and correct anything I think I have right, too ;)