Session 9: Ystafell 9
Latin in Celtic and Gaelic in English

Chair: Marged Haycock

Treginae apud Vrlas Celticas Latinitatis: How many miles to Paris?

Joseph Flahive
Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann (RIA)

Although Mediaeval Latin was a language that was the mother tongue of no one, Latin’s vitality lived in its evolving offspring, the Romance languages, which were spoken by a large proportion of the population of mediaeval Europe, and the development of Continental mediaeval Latinity reflects the Romance vernaculars that Latin authors spoke. In the Celtic-speaking countries, which also used Latin as a written and liturgical language of prestige, other vernaculars dominated. Nevertheless, Celtic Latinity certainly did not exist in isolation, and it was therefore not immune from international Romance-influenced trends in Latin in the first millennium; and the spread of Old French as a language of prestige in Brittany, and then in our Islands, later expanded this influence. This paper examines the spread of Romance vocabulary and usage in the Latin-language literature of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Man, and Brittany.

Manx Latin: a further distinctive of the island?

Anthony Harvey
Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann (RIA)

Over the past two generations, scholars of Manx including Thomson, Broderick and Lewin have worked patiently to rehabilitate scholarly appreciation of traditional Manx as a fully valid Gaelic language;  it was not merely an aberrant version of the tongues known from Ireland and Scotland, nor had it lost its integrity through anglicization (as O'Rahilly and others scornfully suggested). The question is now whether the Island's extant latinity deserves an analogous reappraisal. Since the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources (DMLCS) project adopted into its corpus the Manx synodal statutes of the 13th/14th centuries, the choice of wording found therein has repeatedly turned out to be different from that selected for parallel ecclesiastical legislation elsewhere, even when the intended meaning was similar.  This shows up in the semantics of specific items of vocabulary but also, most strikingly, in these texts' readiness to use rare Latin words, including ones apparently unique to Mann.  The paper will apply DMLCS methods of systematic word-searching and analysis to Cheney's definitive 1984 edition in an attempt to determine just what philological position the Statutes occupy within the spectrum of Celtic and wider medieval latinity.   

The story of ‘Gaelic’ in English: news from the Oxford English Dictionary

Katrin Thier
Oxford English Dictionary

In the course of the last few years, the ongoing revision of the Oxford English Dictionary has dealt with a variety of aspects of the Celtic world, including the entries for GAELIC, GOIDELIC, and similar words relating to the Celtic languages and culture of Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man.

This paper will share some of the results of the underlying research, focussing on the emergence of the English word Gaelic in the early modern period (as well as the related concept of the Gael), and on the later development of linguistic terminology, with words like Gadhelic and Goidelic. It will look at aspects of spoken and written transmission in both contexts and how these shaped the spelling and pronunciation of the modern words. It will close with a look at the interaction of these with other English names for Goidelic languages, such as  Erse and  Irish, at various times.