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PostPosted: Sat 05 May 2018 5:47 pm 
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Hello all,

I have an interest in learning to read earlier forms of the Irish language all the way back to the Middle Ages. I have the book SeanGhaeilge gan Dua by Pádraig Ó Fiannachta which appears to be a good introduction to Old Irish, though it doesn't seem to cover the pronunciation. However, since I also have a desire to be able to read Keating and the like, I was wondering would it not be more sensible to work my way backwards chronologically through the language and begin with Classical Irish? (presumably Old Irish is the most grammatically complex making Classical Irish easier to tackle first?) Has anyone here done something similar? As it stands I can understand a lot of individual sentences in Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, but without a parallel translation my overall comprehension is low.

Or maybe it would be more sensible to start with Old Irish and move forward?

If you have any experience with learning Classical and/or Old Irish I'd be very interested in hearing your views. What do you find to be the biggest differences between the forms of the language? Difficulties? Resources, both printed and online, would be much appreciated!

Go raibh míle maith agaibh!


p.s. I'd be very interested in HEARING the languages read aloud, if anyone knows of any audio recordings available?


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PostPosted: Sat 05 May 2018 11:49 pm 
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Joined: Thu 22 Dec 2011 6:28 am
Posts: 76
Location: Corcaigh
Suairc wrote:
Hello all,

I have an interest in learning to read earlier forms of the Irish language all the way back to the Middle Ages. I have the book SeanGhaeilge gan Dua by Pádraig Ó Fiannachta which appears to be a good introduction to Old Irish, though it doesn't seem to cover the pronunciation. However, since I also have a desire to be able to read Keating and the like, I was wondering would it not be more sensible to work my way backwards chronologically through the language and begin with Classical Irish? (presumably Old Irish is the most grammatically complex making Classical Irish easier to tackle first?) Has anyone here done something similar? As it stands I can understand a lot of individual sentences in Foras Feasa ar Éirinn, but without a parallel translation my overall comprehension is low.

Or maybe it would be more sensible to start with Old Irish and move forward?

If you have any experience with learning Classical and/or Old Irish I'd be very interested in hearing your views. What do you find to be the biggest differences between the forms of the language? Difficulties? Resources, both printed and online, would be much appreciated!

Go raibh míle maith agaibh!


p.s. I'd be very interested in HEARING the languages read aloud, if anyone knows of any audio recordings available?


The issue with Early Irish pronunciation is that there's no way to be positive how it was pronounced. Quin notes this in the introduction to his Old Irish Workbook. And what we think we know about it is constantly changing. For example, Liam Breathnach pointed out only in the last few years that there couldn't unstressed uni-syllabic words ending in a vowel, hence, many words written, for example, like "do" are likely to have been pronounced "dó". The point is that getting too hung up on pronunciation is not perhaps not necessary.

With that caveat out of the way, Stifter's Sengoidelc goes into great detail about the grammar, spelling system, prehistory, and even pronunciation of Old Irish. This is the modern standard for teaching Old Irish. You might also want to look into Stair na Gaeilge, which has chapters on most of the stages of Irish, from its prehistory right up to the modern day. Liam Breathnach's chapter on Mean Ghaeilge is still the standard on Middle Irish. Unfortunately it's getting difficult to acquire a copy of the book. Kim McCone covers the topic of Middle Irish well in the last chapter of The Early Irish Verb.

If you already have modern Irish, I would suggest learning Old Irish, as it's different enough to be an almost entirely different language grammatically. You can see the traces of modern Irish vocabulary in its own though, which fascinated me enough to persevere through learning the complex grammatical system.

You can then attack Early Modern Irish from two angles. The apparently complex spelling will make more sense with the knowledge of Old Irish, and you'll see how changes in pronunciation led to the silencing of letters which were subsequently dropped to give us the modern spelling system.

For clarity sake, Early Modern Irish is the language stage during which Classical Irish was written. Classical Irish refers specifically to the standard of Irish written for compositions by the likes of the poetic elite of the time, while the spoken language of the time wasn't nearly so rigid. You can read more on this distinction in Stair na Gaeilge if you're interested.


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PostPosted: Sun 06 May 2018 3:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon 08 Oct 2012 11:11 am
Posts: 61
Sengoidelc by David Stifter is by far the best book of old Irish grammar.I 'd recommend also a grammar of Old irish by Rev F.W. o'Connell and the Old Irish must have by Rudolf Thurneysen.
You can download all these from Archive.org for free .


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PostPosted: Thu 10 May 2018 10:28 am 
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Joined: Thu 01 Sep 2011 9:55 am
Posts: 1887
Location: 91 - France
There's this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQcwILWepWk

Seamus Heaney: A Memorial Celebration, "Pangur Bán" (Clip 6 of 17) read by Professor Tomás Ó Cathasaigh. You can find the original at the Hildegard Tristam website (via CODECS) (though the first lines at the top of it have almost merged with the text above) - Reichenauer Schulheft 1 verso unten


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PostPosted: Thu 10 May 2018 4:58 pm 
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Joined: Fri 08 Jan 2016 11:37 pm
Posts: 74
As for understanding an Ghaoidhealg Chlasaiceach, including the Irish of Ceitínn, there is Léamh.org where you can find texts (including an excerpt from Foras Feasa ar Éirinn) with grammatical notes. The webpage seems to be designed mostly for people who speak modern Irish and want to learn reading Early Modern Irish.

For Old Irish I’d also suggest David Stifter’s Sengoídelc, but there is also online The University of Texas Old Irish course – it might not be the easier resource to learn from, but it does have a good grammar description and annotated texts. In general for learning early Indo-European languages I recommend the utexas website.


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PostPosted: Sat 12 May 2018 9:58 am 
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Joined: Thu 01 Sep 2011 9:55 am
Posts: 1887
Location: 91 - France
Perhaps it might be a good idea to create a specific resources page about Old, Classical and Middle Irish and manuscripts srl.
You might already be aware of websites such as http://www.dil.ie, http://www.isos.dias.ie, http://www.ucc.ie/celt, http://vanhamel.nl/codecs/Home - where they have a section called Tionscadal na Nod, which I find very useful. There's also a lot of material available on Internet Archive (as mentioned above). Here are the titles of some of the books I have that might interest you -

Tales of the Elders of Ireland 978 0 19 954985 6
Early Irish Society/An Sean-shaol in Éirinn - edited by Miles Dillon (Irish Life and Culture series)
An Early Irish Reader 978 1 107 63342 1
Early Irish Literature 978 1 85182 177 5
Medieval Gaelic Sources 978 1 84682 138 7
The Linguistic Training of the Mediaeval Irish Poet by Brian Ó Cuív (DIAS 1983)


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PostPosted: Sat 12 May 2018 10:36 pm 
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Joined: Fri 30 Sep 2011 10:08 pm
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If you speak/read Modern Irish to the point where you could read something like "An tOileánach" with ease, it's easy enough to pick up Classical Irish from Damian McManus's article in Stair na Gaeilge, using it as a grammar as you read a text. Or use Léamh.org as was mentioned above.

Harder than the grammar is the style. Keating for example is written in an Irish closer to Modern Irish than some Classical Irish writing, but he uses the full classical style of metaphors and aphorisms. On the other end of the scale there are some prose works that use the full classical grammar, but not the style that are quite easy to read.

_________________
The dialect I use is Munster Irish, particularly Cork Irish, so words or phrases I use might not be correct for other areas.:D

Ar sgáth a chéile a mhairid na daoine, lag agus láidir, uasal is íseal


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PostPosted: Tue 15 May 2018 1:11 pm 
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Joined: Fri 18 Nov 2016 11:41 am
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Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts and suggestions! I think I'll track down a copy of David Stifter's book and begin to work through it.


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PostPosted: Sat 19 May 2018 6:40 pm 
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Joined: Mon 01 Sep 2014 10:03 pm
Posts: 428
Location: SAM
An Lon Dubh wrote:
Harder than the grammar is the style. Keating for example is written in an Irish closer to Modern Irish than some Classical Irish writing, but he uses the full classical style of metaphors and aphorisms. On the other end of the scale there are some prose works that use the full classical grammar, but not the style that are quite easy to read.


It's a shame this died out. I'd love to see some Modern Irish writing like this.


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