August Bank Holiday Monday – Mercifully, the twenty four hours of incessant precipitation over large swathes of the UK has at last abated.
Feeling inspirationally spent on waking, this morning I wasn’t going to bother penning my usual daily narrative. Unsure of what my itinerary was going to entail, initial thoughts revolved around viewing a The Sopranos boxset on TV; or perhaps a bracing stroll amongst the grounds of Temple Newsam House…… Or maybe even both.
Wandering the picturesque Capability Brown designed landscapes, which surround the 17th century Jacobean House in the Leeds suburbs, oft a cathartic visual treat for sore eyes…… Or indeed unaffected sight provision organs.
Although I’d no inclination to write a blog today, eventually I forced myself to make the effort. This change of heart a consequence of not wishing to follow easier options, deciding instead to follow a mantra of Strachan not Strachan’t.
This family mission statement handed down through generations of Strachans by my great uncle Benjamin. His rallying call to put fire in the bellies of his clan when in the early 20th century the English invaded north east Scotland, their goal to steal the letter o out of Irn Bru.
Great uncle Benny’s three words advocating the merits of positivity, along with how clever you can appear by merely adding the suffix ‘t to a surname…… Although sadly his charges couldn’t negate the Sassenachs returning home with the letter o.
Of course, this inspirational dictum doesn’t work for all individuals who bear the moniker Strachan. My surname brings with it global pronunciation nuances, seeing some people enunciating it as Strakan, whereas others preferring the expression Strawn.
Consequently, for the former group a mission statement pronounced Strakan Not Strakan’t can be viewed as a clever motivational proclamation. However, for the latter group who’d enunciate it as Strawn Not Strawn’t it’s a meaningless utterance. Subsequently, these semantics split the mantra’s effectiveness depending on a clan members choice of pronunciation.
My understanding is that there’s no right or wrong way to pronounce Strachan. However, I do know the village in Aberdeenshire where the surname most likely originated embraces the Strawn option. My family preference is to express our brood name as Strakan, although bizarrely my grandad did utilise both versions.
A mischievous man who sought a gag or a prank in most situations, Jack Strachan probably adopted this idiosyncratic strategy to whimsically confuse his audience……. An objective that, as a young child, worked effectively on yours truly.
My dad, a much more introverted man, put a stop to the nonsense of dual pronunciation by advocating to his offspring they should use the Strakan version. Since pater’s intervention I’ve never personally utilised or been called Strawn, apart from on occasion by school teachers.
Not only are there enunciation differences with the surname Strachan, but also spelling differences of the moniker. Strachan, Strawn, Straughan, Strahan, Strawhun, Straken amongst it’s numerous written variations.
These lexilogical differences no doubt consequential from times of mass illiteracy in the western world. Along with wrongly interpreted spellings being recorded on censuses, particularly in the UK and New World countries, where the name was more prevalent.
Am I opining all of the above variations would have originally all bore the surname Strachan. I’ve no way of knowing with any real certainty, but common sense dictates those whose forefathers acquired their name from the Aberdeenshire village would have once all shared that moniker.
Anyhow, in my view how clan members spell or pronounce their surname is irrelevant. What’s important, regardless of semantics, is we understand Strachan’s can.