How much fun would it be to hear your great-great-grandfather speak? What would they sound like? How would they pronounce the English words, speaking Gaelic as their native tongue?
Using The Irish Language Synthesiser from Trinity College of Dublin, you can almost hear them speak.
...you can almost hear them speak.
The Synthesiser allows you to choose from three different accents based on regions of Ireland.
Based on region alone, the Welsh family likely had an accent closest to Connemara, or Connaught Irish. So, for my testing, I selected that option.
For my first try, I tried my name and immediate family members' names just for fun. Then, I moved on to place names where the Welsh family would have lived. Think: Harpers Ferry, Bolivar, Mudfort, Oak Grove.
After hearing how different many of those names sounded, I started wondering if the Synthesizer could help me understand how many names could have been changed due to sound, such as the spelling of Walsh changing to Welsh.
Listed below are the discoveries I found most interesting.
Just as I had been told ever since I was a small child, 'Walsh' sounds like 'Welsh' with an "Irish accent". It has been passed down for generations that the spelling of the surname changed from "Walsh" to "Welsh" because of how "Walsh" was pronounced in Ireland. I am convinced there is likely truth in this story. Furthermore, "Welsh" actually sounds like "Welch" or "Wells".
Another family tale, Thomas' middle name was Buchanan, rather than the Benjamin that is listed on some records. Buchanan sounds like "Book-a-non", however I can hear how it would be possible for a clerk hearing that pronunciation to translate it to something such as Benjamin.
Out of pure curiosity, I wanted to see how similar "Martin" and "Murtha" sounded. The two names do sound slightly similar. However, it would be much easier for a clerk to mis-translate Murtha than Martin. The likelyhood of a mix-up of these names, I believe, is slim.