Letter: But it rhymes in Limerick . . .

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The Independent Online
Sir: Miles Kington (21 January) might be interested to know that in Gaelic 'sean bean' (pronounced 'shan ban') actually does rhyme. The name 'Sean', the Gaelic for John, has an accent on the 'a'. Without this accent, the word is pronounced 'shan', meaning 'old'. Similarly, 'bean', also without an accent, is pronounced 'ban', and means 'woman'. In the same vein, in Ireland a lad who is both blond and named Sean, is often named 'Sean ban' ('shawn bawn') which also rhymes. This translates as 'white John', which doesn't.

Yours sincerely,



21 January