Freddie Mac and Frannie Nic, or how to start the New Year right
What is REALLY wrong with Freddie Mac and Frannie Mae? The answer in just a moment.
But first, let me set this all up. Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” has given American New Year’s celebrations a Scottish lilt. Many revelers may not give a hoot about the difference between the Scots English of Burns’ poem and Scottish Gaelic, that scion of Celtic Irish. But the difference is great, none the less. Here is the first stanza and chorus, translated into Gaelic by Celticartscenter.com/:
An còir an càirdeas dhol air dìth,
‘S a leigeil as ar cuimn’?
An còir an càirdeas dhol air dìth
Air sgàth nan iomadh linn.
Air sgàth nan iomadh linn, a ghaoil,
Air sgàth nan linn a dh’fhalbh,
Gun gabh sinn cupan coibhneas blàsd’
Air sgàth nan linn a dh’fhalbh.
And here is a rough phonetic transliteration, for a real midnight surprise this December 31:
Ahn korr an cardjes GHole air jee
Sa LAY-gel ahs ar kuyn?
Ahn korr an cardjes GHole air jee
Air skah nan ee-muGH leen.
Air skah nan ee-muGH leen, a GHuil,
Air skah nan leen a Gha-luv
Gun gahv shin cupahn kayv-ness blahst
Air skah nan leen a Gha-luv.
Now back to Freddie and Fannie. According to the Freddiemac.com FAQ web page, “Freddie Mac's full legal name is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ... Almost immediately after we were formed by Congress … we became widely known in the industry as ‘Freddie Mac,’ probably for the same reasons that people with lengthy names are often known by shorter nicknames (and similar to the common use of ‘Fannie Mae’ to identify the Federal National Mortgage Association). In 1994 our Board of Directors decided that we should officially do business as Freddie Mac because we had become so widely identified with that trade name. “
Aye, laddie. Every Scotsman knows that “Mac” means “son” or, in family names, “son of.” Freddie can indeed be a “Mac,” as so many Scottish names attest. There be MacAllan (GAELIC MaAilean), MacDonald (MacDhomnaill), Mac Arthur (MacArtair), MacGilivane (Mac Gille Bhain), MacPhee (Mac-a-Phi), MacAulay (Mac Amhlaid), MacKay (Mac Aidh), Mac Bean (MacBaethain), MacCormick (MacCormaig), MacCulloch (MacCullach, originally “Mac-Cu-Uladh,” or “Son of the Dog of Ulster”), MacIlvane (Mac Gille Bhain), MacDuff (MacDubh), MacIver (MacIamhair), MacLeod (MacLeoid, from Old Norse “Ljotr-ulf,” meaning “Ugly Wolf”), MacNair (Mac-an-Uidhir), MacNaughton (MacNeachduinn), MacRory (MacRuairidh, from “ruadh-ri,” meaning “red king”), MacKenzie (MacChoinnich), MacLean (MacIlleathain), MacInnes (MacAonghais) and so, so many others. These names I borrowed with no intention of return from George Calder’s Gaelic Grammar.
But och! A lassie, who kinna be a “Mac,” shou’na be a “Mae.” In the Gaidhealtachd. (Gaelic-speaking areas of Scotland), it is proper for a man to be named Ailean MacLeoid (Alan MacLeod), but no woman can be a “MacLeoid.” Mary MacLeod must be called Mairi NicLeoid, with the “Nic” meaning “daughter of” (though the word for “daughter” is “nighean, pronounced “NYEE-yun”).
This is similar to the feminine “ovna” ending in Russian family names (vs. masculine “vitch”) and Icelandic “dotter” vs. “sen.” These suffixes are attached to patronymic family names – those derived from the first name of the father.
Sae, ‘tis “Fannie Nic” Mae should’a been. Dis this matter, truelins? Na, shiurly nae. Hit wis juist ma wee pliskie (joke) for the New Year.
Image source: "Dougal air mullach Beinn na Caillich" http://flickr.com/photos/martainn/2597356209/?addedcomment=1#comment72157611668951187 by Màrtainn, under Creative Commons license Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic. This permission in no way implies that Màrtan endorses denseatoms or the use of the work.