L: Luis, Rowan in the Scottish Gaelic alphabet. (See below.)
If you’re wondering what happened to the letters J and K, they are not part of the Scottish Gaelic alphabet.
J is often approximated as an I (ex., Jesus, pronounced “Eesa”) or the sound “sh”, as in Shona, the Anglicisation of Seònaid [pronounced shohn-EHT], the Gaelic name for Janet. Se, followed by a vowel, is a “sh” sound. C is pronounced as a “k” sound, so why use the letter K? Actually, in orthography, the standardized system of writing a language, those two letters are pretty much latecomers.
Most languages were oral before finding a written form to approximate sounds. If one understands the rules of such a system, spelling is often much simpler to master. If you’re skeptical about this in English, well, we’ve adapted a lot of words from other languages which use different rules, hence all the confusion in how to spell or pronounce a word.
|Beith, or Birch, 1st Ogham letter|
|Luis, or Rowan, 2nc Ogham letter|
Here’s some lore about the rowan:
Rowan twigs were used to ward off evil, often being placed above doors or carried on one’s person, as recorded in countless Scottish folktales. I vaguely remember Granny saying, “Alas, she realized that the rowan twig had fallen out of her pocket. Hoo she wished she’d mended it!” (This may have been when she was teaching me to mend; I preferred to go out and play.)
I also recall, the first time I saw a mountain ash tree on a vacation trip in the Rockies, I thought it must be a rowan, and was confused when Mother said no and Dad told me that rowans are members of the rose family. They were right; people have been confusing rowans and mountain ash for years!
Whether or not you have a rowan twig in your pocket, may you become learned in lore!
|Fox & Rowan|