Sunday, 18 November 2018

Well, well, well, what's all this then?

This evening, as a favour for a friend, I was browsing a book of Orkney dialect words, researching a possible name for a company with a local connection. Don't worry, I'd been warned off any excruciating puns or stupid wordplay, this was a strictly serious business.

With alliteration a likely option, I was scanning through the 'T's, when I came across the word 'teeve'. This had some significance for me, so I bookmarked the page, to be returned to later once I'd completed the mission. Sorry to be a 'T's.

Eagle-eyed readers with total recall might remember the sound of this word from here or here. The Tieve Road runs from the shore of Howes Wick, by St Nicholas Kirk, up to the old property of Greenwall.

About 4 miles to the north west, and towards Kirkwall the capital of Orkney, is a feature that also mentions the word, Tievesgeo.

Or, in a wider geographical context...

In my mind, I had wondered whether this was something to do with criminality, as the dialect word 'tief' means thief. Perhaps this was a smuggling route from the coast, via a safe house, and on to town?

Well, now I know this isn't so, as 'teeve' is usually paired with 'well', for example teeve or tave well. Indeed, at a bend in the Tieve Road, there is a spring in a small enclosure. This must be a teeve well, which has resulted in the place name.

I can only assume that in the shallow valley of Tievesgeo, there must be several sources of water. 'Geo' is local dialect for a ravine, though more usually associated with a rocky inlet, between cliffs, on the coast.

And the company name? Well, words beginning with T didn't make the cut but, if my friend's plans come to fruition and my suggestion is accepted, I'll let you know. 


Mark said...

Amazing how a little bit of etymological digging can be a window into the past and the present.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Indeed, I had not considered variant spellings of 'tieve', so it took a severe case of browsing all the 'T's to nudge me in the correct direction. The actual definition was under 'tave'. Serves me right for previously giving up at 'tief' and jumping to the wrong conclusion.