Session 5: Ystafell 5
Linguistic studies of literary works, Manx and Welsh

Chair: Oliver Currie

The Manx Bible translation as a source for linguistic features and variation in vernacular eighteenth-century Manx

Christopher Lewin
Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann (Edinburgh)

This paper will examine the genesis and development of the Manx Bible translation, and seek to evaluate the extent to which the text (or rather texts) can be taken as representative of spontaneous spoken usage and contemporary linguistic variation in eighteenth-century Manx.

The first installment of the Bible, the gospel of Matthew, was published in 1748 and the final section of the Old Testament appeared in 1772. The task of translation was shared among the island’s Anglican clergy, who were generally native speakers of Manx, with an editorial team overseeing the work and seeking to standardize orthography and terminology, but seemingly less so morphology and syntax. Substantial sections of the manuscript drafts of the translation survive and are preserved in the Manx National Heritage Library in Douglas (MS 5690C). The present study will investigate two samples from this manuscript corpus, from both the Old and New Testaments, analysing the editorial emendations on four dimensions: grammatical conservatism, closeness to the English text, idiomaticity, and verbosity.

Especially when the manuscript corpus is taken into account, it will be concluded that the language of the Manx Bible translation provides reasonably reliable testimony to contemporary spoken usage, if analysed judiciously. Indeed, Manx texts may offer one of the best insights available into the linguistic development of a vernacular Gaelic variety in the Early Modern period, unobscured by the inherent conservatism of a long-established pre-existing literary tradition.

The Manx Bible transcripts and their linguistic revelations

George Broderick
Universität Mannheim

This paper will look at the contribution made by the Manx Bible Transcripts to our better understanding of spoken Manx during the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.

Dyna fy mywyd: text-linguistic analysis of autobiographical anecdotes

Júda Ronén
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

While other text-types have received some scholarly attention with regards to their specific linguistic regularities and constitutive features in Welsh (e.g. Shisha-Halevy (2005) for epistolary texts), to the best of my knowledge the anecdote has received none. This paper aims at describing the use Kate Roberts makes of the rich Welsh linguistic toolbox in writing anecdotes in her memoir, Y Lôn Wen (‘The White Lane’, 1960, Gwasg Gee).

In this memoir Roberts portrays her childhood and childhood environment through diverse literary techniques and text-types, of which the anecdote is a central one, with more than 120 occurrences. These anecdotes, interwoven into the fabric of the text, usually illustrate and support by example points made in the text. This paper describes relevant text-linguistic properties and shared structural features of the anecdotes, based on recurrent linguistic constructions and patterns: both constructions and patterns which signal the internal structure of the anecdotes and those which have to do with the interface between them and the text.

Understanding anecdotes better can contribute to our understanding of Welsh narrative grammar in general, as they provide minimal, ‘bare-bones’ examples of narrative. The anecdotes in Y Lôn Wen are literary texts written by an author known mainly for her short stories. Being extremely short in length, these anecdotes offer a glimpse into the essence of narrativity.