Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Welsh patronymics

I recently met someone whose surname is Uprichard. He introduced himself, pronouncing it juˈprɪtʃəd. But someone else I used to know who also bore this surname pronounced it ʌpˈrɪtʃəd.

The name is not to be found in the Oxford Names Companion, but its etymology would appear to be pretty straightforward. Just as Upjohn is of Welsh origin, a patronymic from John with the prefix ap ‘son of’, so Uprichard must presumably be from Richard with the same prefix. In modern Welsh it would accordingly appear as ap Rhisiart.

The ju- pronunciation is then to be explained as arising from the spelling: compare utility, ukulele, upas, Urals.

I don’t know what the etymology of the well-known novelist John Updike’s name is: but it looks as though that would be quite different, being of Germanic (= English) origin, ‘upper ditch/dyke’.

The Welsh for ‘son’ is mab maːb, corresponding to q-Celtic Mac, Mc-. In English it can be reduced to b-, as in Bevan, Beynon, Bowen, and some cases of Barry and Beaumont; or to p-, as in Parry, Pugh (ap Huw), Pomphrey/Pumphrey, Powell (ap Hywel), Preece/Price (ap Rhys), Probert, Prothero (ap Rhydderch), presumably Prodger and indeed Pritchard. Upjohn and Uprichard (?) seem to be the only cases in which it surfaces in English as Up-.

For the counteretymological spelling pronunciation of initial U- as ju we can compare the placename Uttoxeter, Staffs, which can be juˈtɒksɪtə or ʌˈtɒksɪtə, or even ˈʌksɪtə. It appears in the Domesday Book (1086) as Wotocheshede and may mean ‘Wuttuc’s heath’.

There's also Udimore in Sussex, which can be ˈjuːdɪmɔː or ˈʌdɪmɔː.

10 comments:

  1. The Gaelic 'son' word Mac does this sort of thing too. It's nicely opaque in Manx, where Quayle is the same as Mac Pháil 'son of Paul', if I recall correctly.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Uttoxeter is/was also locally pronounced as
    /ˈʌtʃɪtə/.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As in my own surname, which is < Mac Eoghain, the son of Eoghan. My grandfather John Coen or Cowan, after whom I was named, was etymologically Born-from-the-yew from Plain-of-the-yews (Maigh Eo, County Mayo).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. Do you have other examples of this in the Irish (or perhaps Scottish) context?

      Delete
    2. Roger Casement had ancestors named McCasmonde < Mac Asmund(r), a Norse name with an Irish patronymic prefix. The family was Manx in origin.

      Here are other examples: Cardill < Mac Árdghail (more usually McArdle); Cargill < Mac Fhearghaill ("fh" is silent); Car(r)a(g)her, < MacFhearchair (same as Scots Farquhar); Canny < Mac Annaidh; Carter < Mac Artair; Carton < Mac Artain; Costello < Mac Oisdealbh < Anglo-Norman Jocelin; Cawley either Mac Amhalghaidh or Mac Amhlaoibh; Cavey < Mac Dháibhidh; Claffey < Mac Laitlimh; Clancy < Mac Fhlannchaidh; Clossick < ?Mac Lusaigh; Cody < Mac Oda; Neely < Mac an Fhilidh; Convery < Mac Ainmhire; Cooke (where not the English name) < Mac Dhabhoc; Coolahan sometimes < Mac Uallacháin; Corish < ?Mac Oris; Costigan < Mac Oistigín; Cotter < Mac Oitir (another Norse name); Curley < Mac Thoirdealbhaigh; Custy < Mac Oiste; Gannon < Mac Fhionnáin; Gillick < Mac Uilic; Keegan < Mac Aodhagáin.

      Similarly, there are a number of MacC- names where the "C" has been attracted from the prefix: MacCaherty < Mac Eachmharcaigh; McCaw < Mac Adaim; McCaughan, MacCahon < Mac Eacháin; MacCambridge < Mac Ambróis; McCammon < Mac Ámoinn; McCann < Mac Annadh; McCart, McCard < Mac Airt; McCartney, a variant of MacArtney; MacCaughey < Mac Eachaidh; McCavana < Mac an Mhanaigh; Mackay/MacKay/MacCay/McCoy/Magee < Mac Aodha; MacClean, variant of MacLean; McClena(g)han < Mac Leannacháin; MacClory < Mac Labhradha; McCready, variant of MacReidy; McCreesh < Mac Raois; McCrory, variant of MacRory; McGinnis < Mac Aonghusa; McGann < Mac Eacháin; Geoghegan < Mac Eochagáin; McGarry < Mag Fhearraigh; McKittrick < Mac Shitrig; McKinley < Mac Fhionnlaigh; McGoldrick < Mac Ualghairg; McGuire/Maguire < Mac Uidhir; McQuillan < Mac Uighlilin.

      Delete
  4. I can't help being amazed when someone appears not to know how their own name is pronounced. It's one thing when parents give their child a name they've never heard pronounced (hello to all those Seans and Siôns out there who call themselves "see-un" or "sy-on" or something), but your surname is surely something you've heard spoken since before you can remember.

    So, is this a case of someone in the history of Uprichard family deciding to consciously change the pronunciation, perhaps on the grounds that "you Pritchard" would actually be less weird or counter-intuitive or dare I say it silly-sounding than the traditional pronunciation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandfather mentioned above used the GOAT vowel in his name, but in my father's time the MOUTH vowel was substituted, and my generation and succeeding ones used this pronunciation. According to my father, who was a raconteur and not entirely reliable, he was renamed by his football coach in high school.

      My grandson's middle name is Sion, not from Sean nor Siôn, but from the character in the game League of Legends. The intended pronunciation of this name is apparently /ˈsiən/, but many gamers make it /ˈsaɪən/: probably my grandson will have to decide for himself.

      Delete
  5. Gunnel Melchers tells me "I'm sure John Updike's name is derived from Dutch 'Opdijk'. I had the pleasure of meeting him some thirty years ago and we talked a great deal about his Dutch background. He confessed that he didn't know any Dutch although there are some examples of Dutch phrases in his books, e.g. in 'Couples'."

    ReplyDelete
  6. A strange example of initial /ju/ is Ouray, a town in Colorado. At least, that's the only pronunciation I remember hearing for it. (I've never been there.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. My mother was born Uprichard in Belfast. She always pronounced it "you-prichud".

    ReplyDelete