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Correct pronunciation of 'Ioua'

(12 Posts)
enyaheadress Fri 01-Aug-14 23:50:22

This name is apparently the correct spelling of Iona. Iona, my research informs me was a Latin misspelling. However I wondered if Ny Gaelic speakers out there know how it would be pronounced.

enyaheadress Fri 01-Aug-14 23:51:58

That should say 'any Gaelic'

badtime Sat 02-Aug-14 00:11:43

Ioua wasn't 'the correct spelling', it was probably a Latinisation (of Ivova), with Iona a subsequent transcription error.

The name has changed many times over the years, and the real name is now 'Iona'. Why are you thinking of a name which you don't know how to pronounce, and probably very few people would?

zingally Sun 10-Aug-14 17:28:39

Hmm... I'd probably go with "Yo-na", but that would be a bit of a stab in the dark.

florascotia Sun 10-Aug-14 18:52:05

Here is the history, from the offical Gaelic placenames source:

Today, in common Gaelic speech, the island is called Iona. The following site is Irish and puts a bit more stress than Scottish people would on the 'own-ah' element, but is pretty much OK:
I and my neighbours would say - softly - Eye -ohh-nah - with approx equal stress on all syllables, yet just a bit of extra stress on the middle one: Eye -OHH-nah.
A pretty name, in my opinion. I know a very nice woman with the name. And Iona the island is seriously magical. Touristy, but still manages to hold the ancient vibe. For maximum effect, visit in winter, when the crowds have gone.

enyaheadress Mon 01-Sep-14 17:50:24

Hello, bad time. Wow, that is the first time I have heard of Ivova which sounds really lovely. Hmm have you got a link to where I can found out about Ivova being the right spelling? I wonder why I keep coming upon this story about Ioua being the correct or original spelling for Iona before a Latin misspelling. Do you know how to pronounce or have a phonetic spelling for either Ioua or Ivova? Is it Ee-ou-a?

My parents are from the Niger delta from a very tiny tribe. Naming your child is a special part of parenting with most people making up names as my parents did for me. I find it quite special and both my other children have fairly unusual names ( Sorcha and Lela-Biohu) the meaning of the name is just as important as the sound as is its Etymology. Iona/Ioua is also Gaelic although Scottish/ Irish. All of my husband's family is Irish with 2 Scottish grandmothers who are a strong influence on him. It seems right to look to this part of the country for our third child, plus I really liked Iona then read the story about the

Thanks so much, Zingally and Florascotia, any thoughts on Ioua?

florascotia Mon 01-Sep-14 19:55:43

OP This is all really complicated. So - as the saying goes - hold on to your hat!....

Iona is a really beautiful island with a long and fascinating history. To many people it is also of spiritual importance. It would be lovely to be named after such a place; the name would be full of meaning. (Just like Sorcha has the wonderful meaning of light or brightness - and by association, hope and joy.)

Iona as a name is actually English. It came about because an English-speaking historian long ago misread some ancient documents. (In medieval latin, which looks beautiful on the page but can be difficult to decipher, the letters m and n and u and v can all look the same, so you get confusions such as Iona and Iova etc etc etc . And the latin word for island is 'insula', which is also another source of confusion). You can read all about this here:

The Gaelic name for the island has been recorded in several different forms. Many scholars think that its original name was based on a Gaelic word for yew tree, a tree which had significance for Celtic peoples. Names based on the word yew-tree usually contain the element 'Ivo', hence the name mentioned above 'Ivova' (Ee-VOV-ah). I think that's rather pretty!

Later, people who could speak and write Gaelic used to talk and write about Iona as 'the Island of St Columba', who, of course , had founded a monastery and religious community there, and was (admirably) a great advocate of peace. In Gaelic, one possible form of the word for 'island' was simply 'I' (pronounced Eee as in 'see'). So in the Middle Ages, Iona - whatever it's original Gaelic name had been - became something like 'I Cholaim Chille' (Eee-Kolum-Killeh - Island of St Columba). In that format, 'I' simply meant 'island'.

So, when it comes to names, I think you have a choice. You can either use Iona ( modern English pronounciation Eye-OH- nah, even among locals) as a short form for 'island of St Columba' or go back to the origins of the name and choose Ivova (Ee-VOH-ah) which means 'yew tree isalnd'.

Alas, the version Ioua is really only a long-ago spelling mistake.

I am sorry this is so long and complicated. Good luck, anyway!

enyaheadress Mon 15-Sep-14 19:01:00

Florascotia, thank you for that thorough explanation. We have settled on Iona/ioua/ Ivova and we four- my husband and two children have been trying them out. I will report back and let you all know.

burgatroyd Mon 15-Sep-14 19:39:12

Flora your best yet!

madbiker67 Fri 26-May-17 22:03:56

All we know is that the island was variously referred to in Gaelic as "Hy," "Ia," "Eo" or "I" and was referred to as Iova in Latin. The spelling "Iona" occurs ONCE in ONE manuscript. It makes no sense to me how this one spelling mistake could supplant the spoken form of the word. If I misspelled "London" as "Loudon" in a book, would people all of a sudden abandon hundreds years of tradition and change their pronunciation of the word?

Here is my theory. Scholars generally agree that the word "I" comes from Old Norse "ey," meaning island. This hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that from the 9th to the 13th century, the island of Iona was under Norse rule. Now, the word "ey" in the accusative case is "eyna." So if the Vikings wanted to refer to the island, which was well-known by the locals, they could have simply called it "the island," which would have been "eyna" in their language. And "eyna" became "iona" under Gaelic influence.

squoosh Sat 27-May-17 03:39:09

florascotia I'm always in awe of your knowledge!

florascotianew Sat 27-May-17 19:06:27

Gosh, Squoosh, thank you. That's very kind. If I may pay a compliment in return, I'm always impressed - and very amused - by your wit.

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