Originally published in the Scotsman on 27 August 2016
This name was at some point in the past Beinn Eadar Dà Loch ‘the mountain between two lochs’ (it was written as Beandir Loch in c.1640), relating to the mountainous region in Argyll between Loch Creran to the north and Ardmucknish Bay and Loch Etive to the South. The English form of the name is simply a shortened version of this old Gaelic form, but the modern Gaelic form is Meadarloch.
The exact reason for this change is not clear, but the initial B- in the name may have become nasalised by influence with the word an ‘in’, earlier Gaelic in. Thus Early Gaelic i mBeinn Eter Dhá Loch ‘in Benderloch’, where -mb- was pronounced simply as -m-. The -nn- in the word beinn may have become lost by dissimilation between the new initial nasal -m- and the -nn. That is, there were too many nasal sounds in the word.
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