One of my greatest challenges after writing eighteen novels is coming up with true Scottish Gaelic names for my characters.
Historians tell us that the inhabitants of the Western Highlands during the 13th century were all Gaelic. That completely changed as the centuries passed. Lowland Scots spread their culture into the Highlands and the names became a mix of English, Celtic, and Norse.
But for my books? All Scottish Gaels. I have one great website, www.namenerds.com, that I use frequently, but after so many novels, I’m running out of names.
I haven’t used all the ones listed because I just refuse to use the ones that will take a reader out of the story. They are accurate, but I can’t imagine typing a name such as Fionnghuala or Amhalghaidh. Would you like your hero or heroine to be saddled with such a long name?
Many of the names I have used are truly Gaelic, such as Taran, Solas, Ros, Coll, and Osgar, but I also used Anglicized versions of classic Gaelic names. The following fit into that category:
Alexander for Alasdair
Roddy for Rodaidh
Rory for Ruaridh
Morna for Muirne
Bethia for Beathag
Even the Grants are slightly Anglicized. Their surname would be closer to Granndach.
I also admit that my first book, Rescued by a Highlander, has more Anglicized names. Who knew it would be so successful—yay! I named the twins James and John, which is fine because Maddie’s mother was English. But then I chose Jamie and Jake as their nicknames.
Jake? Just no. Jack would have been better …but it was too late, so I came up with the explanation that he’d earned his nickname because his siblings used to mispronounce his given name. And as long as I’m confessing, Jamie, while a Lowland Scots name, shouldn’t have been used that early.
We all make mistakes.
Any others? Kyla is not so true to the time period, though Kyle is, so I just made it the feminine form. I could have chosen better.
I’m often asked about Loki, which means wee trickster in Norse. I chose that name for two reasons. Do you know why he is called Loki? There is another reason besides that he was a wee trickster as a lad…hmmmm…
I do keep some secrets intentionally.
Introductions in Gaelic were quite long, as the custom was to introduce a person as the daughter of someone and…I think it would be easier to show you.
Eliza (full name Elizabeth) would be: Ealasaid nighean Alasdair mhic Seathan.
This translates to Elizabeth, the daughter of Alexander, who is the son of John.
As you can see, my novels would be much longer, and I think I would lose a few readers.
Someday, I may take a class in Gaelic.
I love to learn new things, don’t you?