Gàidhlig / English
Màgaran

Màgaran

Posted by Kate on Thursday 20th July
The word màgaran, for crawling, is connected to giulla-mhàgach, as they say in Mull, for toad. There are many different words for a toad from various places around Scotland. Poll-a’mhàgain from Glenurquhart is rather appropriate as poll means puddle or pool. Meall a’ mhàgag is what I use. As you can see, the second part of the word makes reference to how the animal moves. A child will also be ‘a’ màgaran’ before it is able walk. If someone is making you uncomfortable with some unsettling or creepy behaviour, you may also use this word to describe them!

A toad makes the sound: “ròc” and “gràg.” The red grouse complains loudly in what is described as ‘gorachdal’ in Tiree. This reveals for me the grumpy kind of sound a grouse makes. To remind yourself of how this sounds, please listen below on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds site.

My mother told me to answer the grouse with a “go back, go back, go back!” when it flies past you startled. But the Gael welcomes her in another way. I translate:

Lie, lie,lie
Rest, rest yourself on top of the heather;
You’ll have to wait until day to get what you have
Rest, rest yourself on top of the heather
Lie, lie, lie
 
This is a very beautiful verse for the butterfly fluttering past you:
 
Butterfly! Butterfly!
Whose the soul thou didst bear.
Butterfly! Butterfly!
Yesterday to heaven?

Please see below what the dove has to say:
 
You’re not of my company
You’re not of my company
I’ll turn my back to you, I’ll turn my back to you
You’re not of my company
 
I heard the following verse from a woman from Uist, a ban-Uibhisteach, as she shook a poor woodlouse in her hand:
 
Woodlouse, woodlouse,
Won’t you tell me,
If it will be a nice day tomorrow,
And I’ll make you a pair of shoes.
 
Listen to the following recording from two of the DASG team, as they tried some of these rhymes out.
If you would like to hear someone even more familiar with Cainnt nan Eun, or the language of birds, please listen here to Annie Johnson.
 
There are a great number of rhymes connected to animals, their calls and movements. Please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter, or below, with some others you may know.
 
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