Mac Duff's Port

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John Owlett
Cockburn’s Special Reserve
Posts: 38
Joined: 23:26 Wed 04 Dec 2013
Location: Southampton, UK

Mac Duff's Port

Post by John Owlett » 00:07 Thu 30 Jun 2016

djewesbury wrote:
DRT wrote:All Scottish and Irish names that I am aware of that include "Mc" or "Mac" have these parts conjoined to the principle name. This is the only example I have seen with a space.
This may be the case with Scottish names but it is not so with Irish ones. Names containing 'Mac' in Irish are commonly written in two parts, more particularly so in Irish Gaelic where they are in fact two separate words (for instance, the name James McMahon is written in Irish as Seamus Mac Mathúna).
I was born in England, so am primarily a pedant in English, but my mother was Scotch, and shared with my father the task of training me as a grammarian. From her I came to understand that in Lowland Scots and in Gaelic there are always exceptions.

In the case of patronymic Scots surnames, I therefore understand that the Mac started out as a separate Gaelic word, but that the most common practices are to use Mac followed by a lowercase letter (Macduff) or Mc followed by a capital (McDuff). Neither is wrong (though one should always use the principal name rather than the principle name :? ).

Quite a lot of people use MacDuff; fewer, perhaps, use Macduff; some families use M'Duff. Gaelic is a phonetic language and all these versions are pronounced the same and are correct spellings. So is Mac Duff ... though I have never seen this construction outside reference books.

So, then, Mac Duff's Port could either be a fake (as Derek infers), or a port made by a pedantic Scot, or a port bottled by someone who could not spell his employer's preferred name. On the basis of "Never attribute to malice something adequately explained by stupidity", I prefer the third option.


John (or Jock or Sean, whichever you like)

Justin K
Warre’s Warrior
Posts: 78
Joined: 19:19 Mon 15 Dec 2008

Re: Mac Duff's Port

Post by Justin K » 21:49 Thu 30 Jun 2016


As gaeilge (meaning from the Irish) John is Eoin (pronounced owen). Not sure if there is a Scottish translation, perhaps Eoghan?

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