Heroic Titles

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Mon Sep 13 17:40:31 EDT 1999


Sarah wrote:
>Does anyone know the meaning behind the "Tan" in Tan Coul, Tan Audel,
>etc?
And then Paul wrote:
>Vaguely reminiscent of ancient hero-type-person Finn MacCoul (or
>however it's really pronounced).

I don't think Tan would have any connection with Finn  MacCoul (pronounced
Fionn Mac Cumhaill - with thanks to the Tough Guide for further
brain-warping!).  I could be completely and utterly wrong, but I think Finn
was just his name (it means fair), and his men came to be called the Fianna
after him.  I tried looking Tam up in the girls' Irish Dictionary, but no
luck.  Looked it up in my Concise Oxford, and found, after all the stuff
about leather, that the colour tan probably came from the Breton tann,
meaning oak.  Hum.  Oak vs. Laurel?  Doubtful.

Attempting to be really clever, I went looking on a few folklore sites, but
all I could come up with was a Korean hero called Tan-something or other,
and that seemed so unlikely that I didn't even write it down.  (In my own
defense, I must say that the things which I ought to have been doing
instead, were really, truly boring.)

The only other thing I could think to try was looking it up on the Welsh
link Philip mentioned.  Tan gave the meaning of under, or beneath, or
indeed, laid out for burial.  Hum again.  Coul produced nothing at all.

Why do I have the feeling that there's going to be an article written by
DWJ saying that Tan was her dog's name or something, and she just played
around with names of old cars to get all the other names, as in the Star
Wars name game?  Something proving that I *really* ought to have been doing
all those other things today.

Hallie (in beautiful Co. Doveland, Iran )
hallieod at indigo.ie

Yes, I have had letters addressed to both of the above, though mercifully,
not both in the same letter.




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