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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr 2024 1:27 am 
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Ade wrote:
Caoilte wrote:
I think that website's entry for Sídach is kind of correct, albeit incomplete.


I'm inclined to disagree. As it stands, the website states that the "name element", sídach from which the listed names are derived, comes from the 'Old Irish word meaning "wolf"', which is likely incorrect.

Saying it's "kind of correct, albeit incomplete" is a bit too forgiving for me. It suggests that whoever made this entry accidentally overlooked the adjectival forms, which would be difficult to do as they're more frequently attested, and appear first on eDIL. It seems more likely to me that whoever put up the definition on that website deliberately omitted the adjectival forms, having decided they weren't the root of the name, though one of them likely is.

Fair enough. I will concede you are correct there.

Ade wrote:
We might tentatively conclude from this, at least in the case of sídach meaning "fairy-like", that the lenited d was broad in Old Irish under the influence of the following broad consonant.

This would seem to be right.

I found two webpages that explain how broad and slender consonsants were distinguished the Old and Middle Irish periods: https://www3.smo.uhi.ac.uk/sengoidelc/d ... hairt.html and https://people.uleth.ca/~daniel.odonnel ... the-sounds

They both essentially state: Slender consonants are those that are followed by the letters “e” or “i”. If the consonant is in final position, it is slender if it is preceded by an “i”.

Based on the above, the 'd' in 'sídach' is broad, as is the 't' in 'sítach'. But the 't' in sítech is slender.

So, if these words were re-spelt using modern Irish orthography, you would get the following.

sídach -> síodhach
sítach -> síothach
sítech -> sítheach

Ade wrote:
Perhaps there was confusion whether the d/t element should be broad or slender from an early age because it's pronunciation would have been obscured by the lenition.

My understanding is that the original lenited versions of broad d and slender d would still have been distinct from each other (and likewise for the lenited versions of broad t and slender t).

The youtuber An Loingseach claims that the lenited d and t sounds were likely to have been alveolar fricatives (made using the tip of the tongue), rather than the more commonly assumed interdental fricatives (like in the English words 'thy' and 'thigh')

Here he demonstrates slender lenited t vs broad lenited t . https://youtu.be/nI1RF7JfcFs?t=1502

Here he demonsrates slender lenited d vs broad lenited d. https://youtu.be/nI1RF7JfcFs?t=1633


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PostPosted: Sun 14 Apr 2024 2:56 am 
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Caoilte wrote:
They both essentially state: Slender consonants are those that are followed by the letters “e” or “i”. If the consonant is in final position, it is slender if it is preceded by an “i”.


That's what I would expect, yes. But, I would tentatively suggest that this statement doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility of a consonant being slender in situations other than those outlined. For example, just because a consonant in final position (like the d of síd) would be expected to be slender if preceded by an i, that doesn't necessarily mean the same consonant couldn't also be slender if it were not in final position (as with the d of sídach). I'll stress here that I'm not making an argument that the d of sídach actually was slender. I'm just making the point that the wording on the websites you linked doesn't seem to exclude the possibility, and I'm not confident enough to say that it definitely wasn't when a spelling variant, síthech, exists.

More generally, I'm slow to outright accept "spelling rules" based on spelling patterns in a language which actually had quite variable spelling. The guidelines you found on these sites are certainly very helpful as guides for those who want to learn pronunciation for Old Irish, however, they are only generalisations which have been worked out based on surviving texts. Exceptions to these guidelines do occur in Old Irish texts, and so they should not be treated as hard and fast rules that were followed by every writer of Old Irish in every case. The fact that spelling variants like síthech and síthach are both attested would seem to demonstrate this.

Caoilte wrote:
My understanding is that the original lenited versions of broad d and slender d would still have been distinct from each other (and likewise for the lenited versions of broad t and slender t).


Certainly there would have been a distinction between broad and slender lenited d in Old Irish. I'm only guessing that the reason for the variant attested spellings may have had something to do with lenition making the distinction less clear. It could of course be some other reason. All the same, the data also seems to show there was some confusion whether the dental was voiced or not (d vs. t), so it does seem that this particular consonant was problematic for writers at the time, whether or not the lenition contributed to that problem.


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PostPosted: Fri 26 Apr 2024 2:04 pm 
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Ade wrote:
Caoilte wrote:
They both essentially state: Slender consonants are those that are followed by the letters “e” or “i”. If the consonant is in final position, it is slender if it is preceded by an “i”.


That's what I would expect, yes. But, I would tentatively suggest that this statement doesn't necessarily rule out the possibility of a consonant being slender in situations other than those outlined. For example, just because a consonant in final position (like the d of síd) would be expected to be slender if preceded by an i, that doesn't necessarily mean the same consonant couldn't also be slender if it were not in final position (as with the d of sídach). I'll stress here that I'm not making an argument that the d of sídach actually was slender. I'm just making the point that the wording on the websites you linked doesn't seem to exclude the possibility, and I'm not confident enough to say that it definitely wasn't when a spelling variant, síthech, exists.


"I'm just making the point that the wording on the websites you linked doesn't seem to exclude the possibility"

The explanation on those websites regarding how to distinguish broad and slender consonants did seem a little too concise i.e. "Slender consonants are those that are followed by the letters “e” or “i”. If the consonant is in final position, it is slender if it is preceded by an “i”". This would seem to imply that a consonant is broad in all other situations but it doesn't explicitly say that. It's almost as if the writers didn't want to commit to a definitive statement.


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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr 2024 1:27 am 
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Caoilte wrote:

"I'm just making the point that the wording on the websites you linked doesn't seem to exclude the possibility"

The explanation on those websites regarding how to distinguish broad and slender consonants did seem a little too concise i.e. "Slender consonants are those that are followed by the letters “e” or “i”. If the consonant is in final position, it is slender if it is preceded by an “i”". This would seem to imply that a consonant is broad in all other situations but it doesn't explicitly say that. It's almost as if the writers didn't want to commit to a definitive statement.


I think they're just saying what they can be relatively sure of, while trying to avoid any generalisation which would be inaccurate. As an aid for beginners it seems fairly reasonable to provide a rule of thumb that probably holds in 95% of cases. If they'd given much more detailed information about exceptions and spelling variation, it could actually be more confusing for learners.

I was actually thinking about this thread a couple of days ago when I happened upon an interesting example from the Würzburg glosses which I think actually outright defies the statement 'Slender consonants are those that are followed by the letters “e” or “i”'.

Wb. 31b25a reads: scéla etsenchaissi etforbandi, "stories and histories and laws".

Based on the rule above, you'd expect the cluster ss at the end of senchaissi would have to be slender, but this is the nom. pl. of a masc. u-stem noun. As Stifter (Sengoidelc, p. 112) notes "The root final consonants of u-stems are basically non-palatalized throughout the paradigm". Exceptions occur where syncope could have caused secondary palatalisation, but eDIL suggests that senchas goes back to a combination of "senchae + abstract suffix -as". As senchae is a bisyllabic Old Irish noun, which I expect post-dates syncope anyhow, and clearly the root final consonant is not palatal (i.e. slender) in it, I'm inclined to expect that it cannot be palatal throughout the paradigm for senchas either. Senchas did later transition into a masc. o-stem, which explains why the Modern Irish genitive form of seanchas has a slender ending, seanchais, but the fact that there is a vowel at the end of the nom. plural form shows that in this Old Irish example it was still very much a u-stem.

This would mean that the ss cluster is broad, despite being both preceded and followed by i. It's not unusual for Old Irish scribes to double a consonant in situations such as this to suggest that it should be broad despite the surrounding vowels, and the creators of the websites you linked undoubtedly are aware of this. But exceptions also occur where doubled consonants can be slender. For example, the famous poem from the Reichenau Primer begins messe ⁊ pangur bán, "I and Pangur Bán". Because messe becomes Modern Irish mise, it's fairly clear the cluster, ss, would have been slender here. Undoubtedly, the creators of the websites are aware of all of this also, but explaining it all would have been far too much to throw at beginners.


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PostPosted: Wed 01 May 2024 11:10 pm 
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So it looks like there's a quite bit more going in than would first appear. Thanks for the info.


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