Middle Irish

Last updated

Middle Irish
Middle Gaelic
Gaoidhealg
Pronunciation [ˈɡəiðeɫɡ]
Native toIreland, Scotland, Isle of Man
Erac.900–1200
Early forms
Latin (Gaelic alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-2 mga
ISO 639-3 mga
Glottolog midd1360

Middle Irish, sometimes called Middle Gaelic [1] (Irish : An Mheán-Ghaeilge, Scottish Gaelic : Meadhan-Ghàidhlig), [2] is the Goidelic language which was spoken in Ireland, most of Scotland and the Isle of Man from c.900–1200 AD; it is therefore a contemporary of late Old English and early Middle English. [3] [4] The modern Goidelic languages—Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx—are all descendants of Middle Irish.

Contents

Grammar

Middle Irish inscription from Clonmacnoise: Oroit ar Thurcain lasan dernad in chrossa
: "Pray for Turcan by whom this cross was made." Oroit plaque, Clonmacnoise.jpg
Middle Irish inscription from Clonmacnoise: Oroit ar Thurcain lasan dernad in chrossa: "Pray for Turcan by whom this cross was made."

Middle Irish is a fusional, VSO, nominative-accusative language.

Nouns decline for two genders: masculine, feminine, though traces of neuter declension persist; three numbers: singular, dual, plural; and five cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, prepositional, vocative. Adjectives agree with nouns in gender, number, and case.

Verbs conjugate for three tenses: past, present, future; four moods: indicative, subjunctive, conditional, imperative; independent and dependent forms. Verbs conjugate for three persons and an impersonal, agentless form (agent). There are a number of preverbal particles marking the negative, interrogative, subjunctive, relative clauses, etc.

Prepositions inflect for person and number. Different prepositions govern different cases, depending on intended semantics.

Example

The following is a poem in Middle Irish about Eógan Bél, King of Connacht. [7]

Dún Eogain Bél forsind loch forsrala ilar tréntroch,
  ní mair Eogan forsind múr ocus maraid in sendún.
Maraid inad a thige irraibe ’na chrólige,
  ní mair in rígan re cair nobíd ina chomlepaid.
Cairptech in rí robúi and, innsaigthech oirgnech Érenn,
  ní dechaid coll cána ar goil, rocroch tríchait im óenboin.
Roloisc Life co ba shecht, rooirg Mumain tríchait fecht,
  nír dál do Leith Núadat nair co nár dámair immarbáig.
Doluid fecht im-Mumain móir do chuinchid argait is óir,
  d’iaraid sét ocus móine do gabail gíall [n]dagdóine.
Trían a shlúaig dar Lúachair síar co Cnoc mBrénainn isin slíab,
  a trían aile úa
 fo dess co Carn Húi Néit na n-éces.
Sé fodéin oc Druimm Abrat co trían a shlúaig, nísdermat,
  oc loscud Muman maisse, ba subach don degaisse.
Atchím a chomarba ind ríg a mét dorigne d’anfhír,
  nenaid ocus tromm ’malle, conid é fonn a dúine.
Dún Eogain.

Related Research Articles

Celtic languages Language family

The Celtic languages are a group of related languages descended from Proto-Celtic. They form a branch of the Indo-European language family. The term "Celtic" was first used to describe this language group by Edward Lhuyd in 1707, following Paul-Yves Pezron, who made the explicit link between the Celts described by classical writers and the Welsh and Breton languages.

The Goidelic or Gaelic languages form one of the two groups of Insular Celtic languages, the other being the Brittonic languages.

Scoti Latin name for the Gaels

Scoti or Scotti is a Latin name for the Gaels, first attested in the late 3rd century. At first it referred to all Gaels, whether in Ireland or Great Britain, but later it came to refer only to Gaels in northern Britain. The kingdom to which their culture spread became known as Scotia or Scotland, and eventually all its inhabitants came to be known as Scots.

Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Canada.

Insular Celtic languages are the group of Celtic languages of Brittany, Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. All surviving Celtic languages are in the Insular group, including Breton, which is spoken on continental Europe in Brittany, France. The Continental Celtic languages, although once quite widely spoken in mainland Europe and in Anatolia, are extinct.

Niall of the Nine Hostages Irish high king

Niall "Noígíallach", or in English, Niall of the Nine Hostages, was a semi-mythical Irish king who was the ancestor of the Uí Néill dynasties that dominated the northern half of Ireland, reigning from the 6th to the 10th centuries. Irish annalistic and chronicle sources place his reign in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, although modern scholars, through critical study of the annals, date him about half a century later. He is presumed by some to have been a real person, or at the very least semi-historical but most of the information about him that has come down to us is regarded as legendary.

Old Irish, also called Old Gaelic, is the oldest form of the Goidelic/Gaelic language for which there are extensive written texts. It was used from c. 600 to c. 900. The main contemporary texts are dated c. 700–850; by 900 the language had already transitioned into early Middle Irish. Some Old Irish texts date from the 10th century, although these are presumably copies of texts written at an earlier time. Old Irish is thus forebear to Modern Irish, Manx, and Scottish Gaelic.

Primitive Irish Pre-6th century Goidelic Celtic language of Ireland and Britain

Primitive Irish or Archaic Irish, also called Proto-Goidelic, is the oldest known form of the Goidelic languages. It is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the ogham alphabet in Ireland and western Great Britain between the 4th and the 6th century AD.

Proto-Celtic language Ancestor of the Celtic languages

Proto-Celtic, or Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all known Celtic languages, and a descendant of Proto-Indo-European. It is not attested in writing, but has been partly reconstructed through the comparative method. Proto-Celtic is generally thought to have been spoken between 1300 and 800 BC, after which it began to split into different languages. Proto-Celtic is usually associated with the Urnfield or Hallstatt cultures. Celtic languages share common features with Italic languages that are not found in other branches of Indo-European, suggesting the possibility of an earlier Italo-Celtic linguistic unity.

Classical Gaelic or Classical Irish was a shared literary form of Gaelic that was in use by poets in Scotland and Ireland from the 13th century to the 18th century.

The history of the Irish language begins with the period from the arrival of speakers of Celtic languages in Ireland to Ireland's earliest known form of Irish, Primitive Irish, which is found in Ogham inscriptions dating from the 3rd or 4th century AD. After the conversion to Christianity in the 5th century, Old Irish begins to appear as glosses and other marginalia in manuscripts written in Latin, beginning in the 6th century. It evolved in the 10th century to Middle Irish. Early Modern Irish represented a transition between Middle and Modern Irish. Its literary form, Classical Gaelic, was used by writers in both Ireland and Scotland until the 18th century, in the course of which slowly but surely writers began writing in the vernacular dialects, Ulster Irish, Connacht Irish, Munster Irish and Scottish Gaelic. As the number of hereditary poets and scribes dwindled under British rule in the early 19th century, Irish became a mostly spoken tongue with little written literature appearing in the language until the Gaelic Revival of the late 19th century. The number of speakers was also declining in this period with monoglot and bilingual speakers of Irish increasingly adopting only English: while Irish never died out, by the time of the Revival it was largely confined to the less Anglicised regions of the island, which were often also the more rural and remote areas. In the 20th and 21st centuries, Irish has continued to survive in Gaeltacht regions and among a minority in other regions. It has once again come to be considered an important part of the island's culture and heritage, with efforts being made to preserve and promote it.

Éogan or Eógan is an early Irish male name, which also has the hypocoristic and diminutive forms Eoganán, Eóghainin, Eóghain and Eóghainn. In more modern forms of Irish it is written as Eóghan or Eoghan (/'oːəun/).

Peter Schrijver is a Dutch linguist. He is a professor of Celtic languages at Utrecht University and a researcher of ancient Indo-European linguistics. He worked previously at Leiden University and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Early Modern Irish Earlier form of the Irish language

Early Modern Irish represented a transition between Middle Irish and Modern Irish. Its literary form, Classical Gaelic, was used in Ireland and Scotland from the 13th to the 18th century.

Gaelic literature is literature in the vernacular Gaelic languages of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

In the Goidelic languages, dependent and independent verb forms are distinct verb forms; each tense of each verb exists in both forms. Verbs are often preceded by a particle which marks negation, or a question, or has some other force. The dependent verb forms are used after a particle, while independent forms are used when the verb is not subject to a particle. For example, in Irish, the past tense of the verb feic has two forms: the independent form chonaic and the dependent form faca. The independent form is used when no particle precedes the verb, as in Chonaic mé Seán. The dependent form is used when a particle such as ("not") precedes the verb, as in fhaca mé Seán.

The Goidelic substrate hypothesis refers to the hypothesized language or languages spoken in Ireland before the Iron Age arrival of the Goidelic languages.

Insular Celts

The Insular Celts were speakers of the Insular Celtic languages in the British Isles and Brittany. The term is mostly used for the Celtic peoples of the isles up until the early Middle Ages, covering the British–Irish Iron Age, Roman Britain and Sub-Roman Britain. They included the Celtic Britons, the Picts, and the Gaels.

The Cenél nEógain or Kinel-Owen are a branch of the Northern Uí Néill, who claim descent from Eógan mac Néill, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. Originally their power-base was in Inishowen, with their capital at Ailech, in modern-day County Donegal in what is now the west of Ulster. Under pressure from the Cenél Conaill, they gradually spread their influence eastwards into modern counties Tyrone and Londonderry, pushing aside the Cruithin east of the River Bann, and encroaching on the Airgiallan tribes west of Lough Neagh. By the 11th century their power-base had moved from Ailech to Tullyhogue outside Cookstown, County Tyrone. By the 12th century the Cenél Conaill conquered Inishowen; however, it mattered little to the Cenél nEóghain as they had established a powerful over-kingdom in the east that had become known as Tír Eoghain, or the "Land of Owen", preserved in the modern-day name of County Tyrone.

This article describes the grammar of the Old Irish language. The grammar of the language has been described with exhaustive detail by various authors, including Thurneysen, Binchy and Bergin, McCone, O'Connell, Stifter, among many others.

References

  1. Mittleman, Josh. "Concerning the name Deirdre". Medieval Scotland. Retrieved 13 February 2013. Early Gaelic (a.k.a. Old Irish) is the form of Gaelic used in Ireland and parts of Scotland from roughly 600–900 AD. Middle Gaelic (a.k.a. Middle Irish) was used from roughly 900–1200 AD, while Common Classical Gaelic (a.k.a. Early Modern Irish, Common Literary Gaelic, etc.) was used from roughly 1200–1700 AD
  2. "Middle Irish". www.uni-due.de.
  3. Mac Eoin, Gearóid (1993). "Irish". In Martin J. Ball (ed.). The Celtic Languages. London: Routledge. pp. 101–44. ISBN   0-415-01035-7.
  4. Breatnach, Liam (1994). "An Mheán-Ghaeilge". In K. McCone; D. McManus; C. Ó Háinle; N. Williams; L. Breatnach (eds.). Stair na Gaeilge in ómós do Pádraig Ó Fiannachta (in Ga). Maynooth: Department of Old Irish, St. Patrick's College. pp. 221–333. ISBN   0-901519-90-1.
  5. Healy, John (8 June 2016). Insula Sanctorum Et Doctorum Or Ireland's Ancient Schools And Scholars. Read Books Ltd. ISBN   9781473361331 via Google Books.
  6. "CISP - CLMAC/13". www.ucl.ac.uk.
  7. "A Middle Irish Poem on Eogan Bél [text]". www.ucd.ie.

Further reading

See also