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How mountain climbers can "stob" pronouncing names wrongly

Posted 21 December 2012
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How mountain climbers can "stob" pronouncing names wrongly
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Most people heading to the Scottish Highlands can easily sort out most of the requirements for climbing mountains. Walking boots, waterproof jackets and reasonable fitness are needed for starters and, at this time of year, items like thermal clothing and crampons will be very important.

However, one thing that will perplex many non-highlanders is the actual pronounciation of the peaks themselves, along with other features they will see marked on their Ordnance Survey maps.

It might be easy enough to pronounce Stob Ban or Ben Nevis, but many Gaelic names seem rather mysterious, as might be expected from a language with only 18 letters in its alphabet.

Some will turn to the Munro Magic website, which has an audio pronunciation guide for each mountain. This does indeed show that Braigh Coire Cruinn Bhalgain's last word is pronounced "valakan", with the mysterious vowel appearing from nowhere also present in mountains like Sgurr nan Conbhairean (skor nan con-a-vair-an).

For those who want to wrap their tongue around everything from Eididh nan Clach Geala to Meallan Liath Coire Mhic Dhughaill, this (and some practice) may be enough.

However, Munro Magic does not cover every lump and bump on the map and those seeking further help can now get it from Comunn na Gaidhlig (CnaG), the agency devoted to the maintenance and promotion of the Gaelic language in Scotland.

In a statement, it said: "CnaG recognises the fundamental link between the Gaelic language and the mountains of Scotland.

"We also recognise that Gaelic names can present a challenge to those unfamiliar with the language. For these reasons we offer a simple resource through our website where a sound file can be requested and the end user able to hear the pronunciation of the name."

It added that the services is specifically aimed at learners and focuses on geographical and topographical features, rather than towns.

So while a mountain like Leabaidh an Diamh Bhuidhe may remain hard to climb - not least the granite tor summit that the peak takes its name from - walkers will not only be able to pronounce it, but can find out the names of all the features of the area around it.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801511184-ADNFCR