Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What's in a name?

Sáin’s name is unique – I realize than. She’s used to people calling her “Sane”. (It’s pronounced “Shane” but she doesn’t get angry.) A lot of people ask so here’s the story:

I did my thesis work on the writings of Patrick Pearse and, because of this, had to work a lot in Gaelic. I came across Sáin’s name and loved the way it looked. The only modern usage of the word is in Welsh meaning “sound”. When I submitted it for “expert” translation they come up with the meaning as “little old wise one” which fits Sáin perfectly. However you translate it, her name fits. (If only I could find it on a bike license plate!)

Here’s the most recent translation I was able to find:

Sain pron. ‘sa’hn’ (Scots Gaelic). Similar to the Native American word translated as ‘smudge’. Saining is a process of burning incense, particularly herbs, to cleanse, lift or alter the atmosphere or energy of a place or person.

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