GrassRoots-Page-5-of-7

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Although, basically, Manx names can be traced directly to the most ancient Gaelic and Scandinavian tongues and medieval English, there are traps for the uninitiated who may blithely assume that they are always descriptions of an area i.e. 'cronk' a hill, 'balla' a farm.

Phonetic distortions through changing dialect and mispronunciation of foreign words may obscure original meanings, especially when a personal name is involved.

The author of THE PLACE NAMES OF THE ISLE OF MAN, J.J.Kneen, gives as an example the name Ballellin which could be translated as 'island farm' from its geographical feature of being on high land surrounded by glens. On the other hand, its older spelling Ball Allen turns it into 'Allen's homestead' from a common surname of the 16th century. The area of Kentraugh (see next chapter on the name of Qualtrough) derives from the older Cinntracht.

Thus we see how spelling and pronunciation may alter meanings over the centuries especially (as in Maori, for example) where a long-forgotten incident may be responsible for the original name.

Toponomy is a most complex study, with the erudite frequently in continuous debate, so we'll just pick the brains of the scholarly J.J. Kneen who in turn calls at times on the authority of the late Professor Rhys, for some Manx place-names that may be of interest in this account of our families' backgrounds.

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