Kate emailed me with a heaping ton of info about adding extra vowels to names after I mentioned how adding vowels was extra more sexy intriguing- and her email is quite interesting. So if you’re curious about Scottish Gaelic names and how those names might change depending on how the individual is addressed by other characters, och, dinnae miss a chance to read on, lassie. Ahem. Sorry.
These people explain it better than I: From Boyd Robertson and Iain (!) Taylor’s Teach Yourself Gaelic…
Personal names often change form and are pronounced differently when someone is being addressed, e.g.: Mairead becomes a Mhairead, and Tormod becomes a Thormoid.
The names of males usually have an h added after the initial letter, which affects the sound of the letter, and an i inserted before the last consonant(s). Thus Tormod becomes a Thormoid, Calum (Malclom) becomes a Chaluim and Dòmhnall (Donald) becomes a Dhòmhnaill.
Female names only have the h added after the inital letter, thus Mairead becomes a Mhairead, Sìne (Jane) becomes a Shìne and Catrìona (Catherine) becomes a Chatrìona.
Names which begin with a vowel or the letters l, n or r do not change their initial letter, e.g. Iseabail and Alasdair retain their usual form. The a is also dropped before names beginning in vowels.
To English speakers the different cases sometimes sound like two different names, so the second form of the name has sometimes surfaced as a name of its own. Hamish, for example, is the English spelling of a Sheumais, the vocative of Seumas. (Which you might be more familiar with if it’s spelled Seamus or Shamus. Seamus is, I think, the Irish spelling, and Shamus the English.)
I think Ia(i)n is usually spelled with the second i in Gaelic, but I would guess that it might have something to do with the fact that it begins with a vowel. Also, Gaelic has a spelling rule about the way vowels go together—which isn’t worth explaining here, and which I probably shouldn’t try to explain anyway because I’m only a beginner at Gaelic, and a self-taught one at that—but that’s my guess, or those are my guesses.
Now that is neat. Thanks, Kate!