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"Black" as a title ?

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  • "Black" as a title ?

    The mention of Black Will MacDonald in the WW2 battle dress posting brought up something in my mind that I've wondered about in times past. It's the use of "Black" in names, that especially seem to be more from military ranks. It carries a different meaning I'm sure than it would here in the US. Anyway, what is the meaning, or connotation of the name ?
    Don't steal, big business hates the competition.

  • #2
    Re: "Black" as a title ?

    It could have a number of meanings, from dark-haired, to dark-visaged, to black-hearted.

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    • #3
      Re: "Black" as a title ?

      'Black' usually means dark haired. No connotations, in this case. In the highlands, it was a nickname, going back at least to the famous 'Black Donald's March' or Piobaireachd Dhonuil Dhuibh, of the 15th century. There is the sgian Dubh or black knife. 'Black mail' was money extorted by people like Rob Roy for not stealing one's cattle (from 'mal' = tax or rent). The pipes were called by puritanical ministers who hated music 'the black sticks of the devil'. Here, there may have been connotations of evil, but black was the colour of clothing most favoured by puritans. And 'black was the colour of my true love's hair.'

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      • #4
        Re: "Black" as a title ?

        It's an example of the Gaelic tendency to use nicknames. However, in the Gaelic the nickname would go between the person's first and last names, for example Rory Dall O Callan, Patrick Mor MacCrimmon, which in English would be "blind Rory O Callan" and "big Patrick MacCrimmon". The use of colours, Dubh (black), Ruadh (red) etc refers to hair colour. Many common Highland last names are in reality nicknames, like Cameron (crooked nose), Campbell (crooked mouth), Kennedy (ugly head), etc.
        proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

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        • #5
          Re: "Black" as a title ?

          Originally posted by pancelticpiper:
          It's an example of the Gaelic tendency to use nicknames........ Many common Highland last names are in reality nicknames, like Cameron (crooked nose), Campbell (crooked mouth), Kennedy (ugly head), etc.
          Your not serious are you, hahahahaha <cough> <cough> <cough> hahahahaha !!!

          Oh........wait, I just looked it up.

          Hey Fraser has an interesting translation.
          Hmmmmmmm,
          78th Fraser Highlanders (78th Strawberry Highlanders)
          ummm, better not.
          Don't steal, big business hates the competition.

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          • #6
            Re: "Black" as a title ?

            Surnames evolved from nicknames, in many cases. Until it became a legal requirement to have a surname, many folk were known only by their patronymic ( son of = mac; daughter of = nic).
            The nobility or landowners started off this way, too, but their 'nicknames' came from a variety of sources: a heraldic device (Strawberry = Fraser, originally a norman french name), the place of origin (Bruce, from Brix, a town in Normandy), the property (Murray, from 'de Moravia', the latinized province of Moray). Their tenants sometimes later adopted, or were given, the name of the person to whom they owned allegiance.

            The proper or original name of 'The Earl of Seaforth's Salute' is 'Slan gun Till, Uillachean', 'Good Health till you return, Will.' His nickname was Uilleam Dubh, or Black Will.

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            • #7
              Re: "Black" as a title ?

              I believe that you find a lot of the descriptive names on the Highlands and Islands as well as in Nova Scotia. Just for example Angus MacDonald. There was the PM Angus of the guards, Dr Angus, and even Angus MacDonald of the Glasgow police, to name a few.
              Had a good friend in Hamilton John Louis, from the isle of Lewis. I always thought his surname was Louis, but it was actually McLeod. They just used the Louis to distinguish him from the other John McLeods of the island. And on and on.
              Practice Hard, win easy!
              Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.
              Vince Lombardi

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              • #8
                Re: "Black" as a title ?

                My grandfather grew up in Scotland and his name was Andrew Black Hood. All the men in the family have very dark hair... Interesting.
                James

                Adirondack Pipes and Drums
                ---------------------------
                Did he say "By the left" or "By the right"? Is this the parade set or the competition set? Oh, for [email protected]#t's sake!!

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                • #9
                  Re: "Black" as a title ?

                  I stayed in Lewis (North Dell) several weeks with an older couple there. They had relatives in Great Bernera, so we spent quite a bit of time there as well. Most of the people I met I never learned their English name. Only nicknames. Calum Te, next door. The Lobsters across the road (their grandfather was a lobster fisherman). I have a copy of the Nis gu Siader phone book from then (early 80's). It has phone numbers, address and each name in English and Gaelic nicknames. I got my own, I found out. I wasn't referred to as the American, which I fully expected. I was Dale Allen to my face, but "The Beard" (am Froasaig) to talk about me, because I think I had the only one in the Outer Isles.
                  Dale Campbell
                  N 42.09 W -76.30

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                  • #10
                    Re: "Black" as a title ?

                    Very true. My surname "Boyd" means blond/fair in Gaelic.
                    .../
                    O///
                    [ ]
                    /-\
                    11

                    Tha ceol sna maidean, ma bheir thus as e.

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                    • #11
                      Re: "Black" as a title ?

                      I am so relieved with this information on the common use of nicknames.

                      Up until now, during parades (when, for instance, I'd call off a hornpipe on the up hill climb), I was somewhat bothered by band members yelling out, "Hubbard, you assh***".

                      Now I know that these are not epithets; rather, a Gaelic nickname...no doubt of affection!

                      Thanks!

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                      • #12
                        Re: "Black" as a title ?

                        That's too funny. I wonder what the Gaelic translation for "assh***" is. There's a few people I might want to use it on.

                        What's the Gaelic translation of "badly out of tune"?
                        James

                        Adirondack Pipes and Drums
                        ---------------------------
                        Did he say "By the left" or "By the right"? Is this the parade set or the competition set? Oh, for [email protected]#t's sake!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: "Black" as a title ?

                          I've been told, but never verified, that the Albanach translation of 'Kiss my ass' is Pogue Mahon, which would, in my limited understanding of Albanach Gaelic, make 'Pogue' == 'Ass'. I'd happily google it for you, except that I've a tendency to absorb that stuff and use it...
                          -Bryn
                          ---------------------------------
                          Nothing to see here, move along.

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                          • #14
                            Re: "Black" as a title ?

                            "Pog" is kiss.
                            Dale Campbell
                            N 42.09 W -76.30

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                            • #15
                              Re: "Black" as a title ?

                              Originally posted by Dale Campbell:
                              "Pog" is kiss. Verb first in Gaelic.
                              Dale Campbell
                              N 42.09 W -76.30

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