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Subject: Re: Niamh
Author: marina   (guest,
Date: June 30, 2010 at 12:14:50 PM
Reply to: Re: Niamh by lizagirl
Ah, and it has been discussed on this message board before:

The poster Deas23242 gave 2 answers, quoted below:

For the Welsh person who is not sure how to pronounce Niamh. Mh in Irish is NOT like the mh in Welsh which is an unvoiced m as in ym Mhen-y-bont. No it is pronounced like the soft mutated form of m in Welsh which is written f in Welsh & pronounced v. Just as the Welsh word mawr "big" becomes fawr [pronounced /vowr/ after a feminine noun so the Irish word mór "big" is written mhór & pronounced /vo:r/ after a feminine noun. E.G. Welsh: y garreg fawr = Irish: an charraig mhór = the big rock
So Niamh is pronounced Niaf in Welsh or Niav in English. Some native speakers of Irish pronounce the mh with a slight nasal tinge and this was perhaps the normal pronunciation in earlier times.
-- Deas23242 7/7/2008

Niamh should become Néimhe in the genitive case & should in former times have become Néimh in the dative case. [The dative case is becoming archaic in Irish today [except in cases where it has itself replaced the nominative]]. But though the genitive is much more usual in modern usage, this does not seem to apply to many personal names. An bhfaca tú leabhar Niamh? would be a more usual usage today than the more correct an bhfaca tú leabhar Néimhe? perhaps.
One explanation for this might be that the name was not in common use as a girl's name in earlier centuries and only existed in the story of Oisín mac Fhinn going to Tír na nÓg with Niamh Chinn Óir [Bright-(one) of (the) Head of Gold]
Searching all the names in the 1911 census for county Dublin there was one Niamh & one Neave. These two were both young children which suggests that the name had not been used in the 19th century.
-- Deas23242 7/8/2008

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