Notes on Gaelic Title
Fear pìoba meata Fhear pioba Metie C2. The timid piper. J. MacIver (1966) offered the translations ‘timid, feeble, or faint-hearted piper’ based on the adjective meata. The use of ‘ie’ to represent a mid-central vowel sound is also found in Gesto’s spellings ‘Chiegch’ and ‘Coghiegh’ (for Caogach and Cogadh), a fact brought to our attention by F. Buisman in 2001 and reported by B. Brown (2015, p. 30). In about 1909, before the original first page of the C2 Index became detached and was lost, the manuscript was carefully copied; both in the Index and above the music, the copyist read ‘Metie’. As Colin Campbell’s forms of ‘e’ and ‘c’ can be indistinguishable and the word is obscure, we should not exclude the possibility that he intended ‘Metic’.
It is a feature of some Gaelic dialects that a vowel ending a word of more than one syllable can sometimes add a new consonant, usually the velar (‘guttural’) continuant consonant normally represented by the letters –dh, or sometimes –gh (as in ‘Coghiegh’). So what was innse (the noun meaning ‘narrating, telling’) at an earlier time has sometimes become innseadh in modern speech. If we could be sure of the reading ‘Metic’ then we might argue that the –c represents somebody’s hearing of that –dh added to meata, in which case meatadh (spelled ‘Metic’) would be a variant of the adjective meata.
The word miotag or meatag can be discounted because words ending in –ag are generally nouns; in this case meaning ‘glove’, presumably a borrowing from English mitt(en). One minimally relevant form is Dwelly’s miotag ‘fright, terror’, a term marked obsolete; this is likely to be a noun form based on the same adjective meata. In conclusion, it does not matter whether Campbell wrote ‘Metic’ or ‘Metie’ as both point strongly to meata, meaning ‘timid, soft, feeble’. This refers to the man and not to his pipe.