Monday, 21 September 2015

Halloween/Samhain Public Service Announcement etc.

Every year it's the same. Drives me effing screwy.

Halloween, not Holloween, It's not hollow, there's no hole in it.

It's the same word as in Deathly Hallows. Hallowed ground. All Hallow's.

It sounds like "HALLO!"

It rhymes with shallow and mallow.

Here is a person saying it.

If I hear one more person saying "hollow" I shall sacrifice them.


I just heard something worse, but I think I have it all figured out. I just heard a person say Hulloween.

See a pattern here? Hallo, Hullo, they think it's a greeting to somebody called Ween. It's therefore just a matter of time before I hear Helloween. Who is Ween BTW?

How can I enjoy this time of year if people are saying it wrong? Have you any idea the effect this has on me? I'm going to get my own back. It will upset people. I don't care. Revenge is sweet. Just wait until Chrustmas.

Now then, the Pagan version is Samhain. It is NOT, I repeat NOT pronounced Sam Hane. But nor is it pronounced SOW IN which I've heard all over the place.

Its's SAH-wn. Rhymes with the first two parts of "Ma 'n' me went shopping"

I looked for a video to demonstrate. First one I found was wrong. But then I looked to see what else this person had created as pronunciation guides. OH MY GIDDY AUNT.

They had Sidhe pronounced as SIDE!!!!


It's pronounced SHE.

Good grief.

So, back to Samhain. MH is a Gaelic sound which traditionally sounds like a V. But it's not a hard hard V, and if you know anything about languages you'll know that V and W are often confused, and some languages don't distinguish between them. Well, in Gaelic it varies, both by word and by locality. So this is not the the same in all parts of the Gaelic speaking world. You will hear SAH-vn too. This is also correct. There is also a dialect version that's more like SHAH-vn. Take your pick among these.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, they are WRONG. I don't care what your Irish cousin says, she doesn't represent the entire Gaelic speaking world, and unless she's a teacher or linguist she probably knows nothing more than what she's heard around her.

For general purposes, stick to SAH-wn. Not SAH-win, or SAH-wen. An unstressed syllable, a schwa. And not SOW. It is NOT pronounced like cow, nor is it pronounced like low. It's SAH. Not SAHHHHHHHHH, but not the A in Sam either. Got it?

I think the "cow" explanation of rhyme you often see is a mis-hearing. I've listened to native Gaelic speakers say it out loud, and people listening say "SEE! It rhymes with cow!" but it doesn't. It's not a dipthong. But, more to the point, in a Irish/Scottish accent the word cow DOES rhyme with the beginning of Samhain. The way non-Irish/Scottish people say cow is different.

That means that if you say it to rhyme with cow in YOUR accent, it sounds wrong. 

EXCEPT.......some Canadians say "cow" the Irish way. My youngest son does. So, for him, the SOW-n explanation works (THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH PHONETICS!).

So, after that bit of pedantry, to show off completely I can tell you it comes from an old INDIAN word (yes, from India) Samana, referring to a gathering. Because Celts come from India. Actually. Follow the red hair.

I'm so glad I didn't call my younger daughter Samhain (it was on my list). She has enough trouble with Sian.........

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