OLD IRISH (
Old Irish : _Goídelc_; Irish : _Sean-Ghaeilge_; Scottish
Gaelic : _Seann Ghàidhlig_; Manx : _Shenn Yernish_; sometimes called
OLD GAELIC ) is the name given to the oldest form of the Goidelic
languages for which extensive written texts are extant. It was used
from c.600 to c.900. The primary 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 composed at an earlier
Old Irish is thus the ancestor of Modern Irish , Manx ,
Old Irish is known for having a particularly complex system of morphology and especially of allomorphy (more or less unpredictable variations in stems and suffixes in differing circumstances) as well as a complex sound system involving grammatically significant consonant mutations to the initial consonant of a word. Apparently, neither characteristic was present in the preceding Primitive Irish period. Much of the complex allomorphy was subsequently lost, but the sound system has been maintained with little change in the modern languages.
Contemporary Old Irish scholarship is still greatly influenced by the works of a small number of scholars active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries such as Rudolf Thurneysen (1857–1940) and Osborn Bergin (1873–1950).
* 1 Notable characteristics * 2 Classification * 3 Sources
* 4 Phonology
* 4.1 Consonants * 4.2 Vowels * 4.3 Stress
* 5 Orthography
* 6 History
* 6.6 PIE consonants
* 6.6.1 Overview * 6.6.2 Initial clusters * 6.6.3 Intervocalic clusters
* 7 Grammar * 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 Bibliography * 12 External links
* Initial mutations, including lenition, nasalisation and
* A complex system of verbal allomorphy.
* A system of _conjugated prepositions_ that is unusual in
Indo-European languages (although they are found in many Semitic
languages such as Arabic ): _dím_ "from me", _dít_ "from you", _de_
"from him", _di_ "from her", _diib_ "from them" (basic preposition
_di_ "from"). There is a great deal of allomorphy here, as well.
* Infixed object prepositions, which are inserted between the verb
stem and its prefix(es). If a verb lacks any prefixes, a dummy prefix
is normally added.
Old Irish also preserves most aspects of the complicated Proto-Indo-European (PIE) system of morphology. Nouns and adjectives are declined in three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter); three numbers (singular, dual, plural); and five cases (nominative, vocative, accusative, dative and genitive). Most PIE noun stem classes are maintained (_o_-, _yo_-, _ā_-, _yā_-, _i_-, _u_-, _r_-, _n_-, _s_-, and consonant stems). Most of the complexities of PIE verbal conjugation are also maintained, and there are new complexities introduced by various sound changes (see below ).
Old Irish was the only member of the Goidelic/Gaelic branch of the
Celtic languages , which is, in turn, a subfamily of the wider
Indo-European language family that also includes the Slavonic , Italic
/Romance , Indo-Aryan and Germanic subfamilies, along with several
Old Irish is the ancestor of all modern Goidelic languages:
Modern Irish ,
A still older form of Irish is known as
Primitive Irish . Fragments
of Primitive Irish, mainly personal names, are known from inscriptions
on stone written in the
Relatively little survives in the way of strictly contemporary
sources. They are represented mainly by shorter or longer glosses on
the margins or between the lines of religious
Old Irish passages may be the transcripts found in the
Cambrai Homily , which is thought to belong to the early 8th century.
Book of Armagh contains texts from the early 9th century.
Important Continental collections of glosses from the 8th and 9th
century include the
Würzburg Glosses (mainly) on the Pauline Epistles
Further examples are found at
In addition to contemporary witnesses, the vast majority of Old Irish
texts are attested in manuscripts of a variety of later dates.
The preservation of certain linguistic forms current in the Old Irish period may provide reason to assume that an Old Irish original directly or indirectly underlies the transmitted text or texts.
The consonant inventory of Old Irish is shown in the chart below. The complexity of Old Irish phonology is from a four-way split of phonemes inherited from Primitive Irish, with both a fortis–lenis and a "broad–slender" (velarised vs. palatalised ) distinction arising from historical changes. The sounds /f v θ ð x ɣ h ṽ n l r/ are the broad lenis equivalents of broad fortis /p b t d k ɡ s m N L R/; likewise for the slender (palatalised) equivalents. (However, most /f fʲ/ sounds actually derive historically from /w/.)
LABIAL DENTAL ALVEOLAR VELAR GLOTTAL
NASAL BROAD m N n ŋ
SLENDER mʲ Nʲ nʲ ŋʲ
PLOSIVE BROAD p b t d k ɡ
SLENDER pʲ bʲ tʲ dʲ kʲ ɡʲ
FRICATIVE BROAD f v θ ð s x ɣ h
SLENDER fʲ vʲ θʲ ðʲ sʲ xʲ ɣʲ hʲ
Nasalized fricative BROAD ṽ
Some details of Old Irish phonetics are not known. /sʲ/ may have been pronounced or , as in Modern Irish. /hʲ/ may have been the same sound as /h/ or /xʲ/. The precise articulation of the fortis sonorants /N/, /Nʲ/, /L/, /Lʲ/, /R/, /Rʲ/ is unknown, but they were probably longer, tenser and generally more strongly articulated than their lenis counterparts /n/, /nʲ/, /l/, /lʲ/, /r/, /rʲ/, as in the Modern Irish dialects ( Connacht Irish ) that still possess a four-way distinction in the coronal nasals and laterals . /Nʲ/ and /Lʲ/ may have been pronounced and respectively. The difference between /R(ʲ)/ and /r(ʲ)/ may have been that the former were trills while the latter were flaps . /m(ʲ)/ and /ṽ(ʲ)/ were derived from an original fortis–lenis pair.
Old Irish had distinctive vowel length in both monophthongs and
diphthongs . Short diphthongs were monomoraic , taking up the same
amount of time as short vowels, while long diphthongs were bimoraic,
the same as long vowels. (This is much like the situation in Old
English but different from
The following short vowels existed:
CLOSE i u ĭu
MID e o ĕu (ŏu)1
OPEN a ău
1The short diphthong ŏu may have existed very early in the Old Irish period/but not later on.
Archaic Old Irish (before about 750) had the following inventory of long vowels:
CLOSE iː uː iu ui
MID e₁ː, e₂ː1 o₁ː, (o₂ː?)2 eu oi, (ou)3
OPEN aː ai, au3
1Both /e₁ː/ and /e₂ː/ were normally written _é_ but must have been pronounced differently because they have different origins and distinct outcomes in later Old Irish. /e₁ː/ stems from Proto-Celtic *ē (< PIE *ei), or from _ē_ in words borrowed from Latin. e₂ː generally stems from compensatory lengthening of short *e because of loss of the following consonant (in certain clusters) or a directly following vowel in hiatus . It is generally thought that /e₁ː/ was higher than /e₂ː/. Perhaps /e₁ː/ was while /e₂ː/ was . They are clearly distinguished in later Old Irish, in which /e₁ː/ becomes _ía_ (but _é_ before a palatal consonant). /e₂ː/ becomes _é_ in all circumstances. Furthermore, /e₂ː/ is subject to _u_-affection, becoming _éu_ or _íu_, while /e₁ː/ is not.
2A similar distinction may have existed between /o₁ː/ and /o₂ː/, both written _ó_, and stemming respectively from former diphthongs (*eu, *au, *ou) and from compensatory lengthening. However, in later Old Irish both sounds appear usually as _úa_, sometimes as _ó_, and it is unclear whether /o₂ː/ existed as a separate sound any time in the Old Irish period.
3/ou/ existed only in early archaic Old Irish (c.700 or earlier); afterwards it merged into /au/. Neither sound occurred before another consonant, and both sounds became _ó_ in later Old Irish (often _ú_ or _u_ before another vowel). The late _ó_ does not develop into _úa_, suggesting that _áu_ > _ó_ postdated _ó_ > _úa_.
Later Old Irish had the following inventory of long vowels:
CLOSE iː uː iu, ia ui, ua
MID eː oː eu oi?1
1Early Old Irish /ai/ and /oi/ merged in later Old Irish. It is unclear what the resulting sound was, as scribes continued to use both _aí_ and _oí_ to indicate the merged sound. The choice of /oi/ in the table above is somewhat arbitrary.
The distribution of short vowels in unstressed syllables is a little complicated. All short vowels may appear in absolutely final position (at the very end of a word) after both broad and slender consonants. The front vowels /e/ and /i/ are often spelled _ae_ and _ai_ after broad consonants, which might indicate a retracted pronunciation here, perhaps something like and . All ten possibilities are shown in the following examples:
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH ANNOTATIONS
_marba_ /ˈmarvA/ kill 1 sg. subj.
_léicea_ /ˈLʲeːɡʲA/ leave 1 sg. subj.
_marbae_ /ˈmarvE/ (?) kill 2 sg. subj.
_léice_ /ˈLʲeːɡʲE/ leave 2 sg. subj.
_marbai_ /ˈmarvI/ (?) kill 2 sg. indic.
_léici_ /ˈlʲeːɡʲI/ leave 2 sg. indic.
_súlo_ /ˈsuːlO/ eye gen.
_doirseo_ /ˈdoRʲsʲO/ door gen.
_marbu_ /ˈmarvU/ kill 1 sg. indic.
_léiciu_ /ˈLʲeːɡʲU/ leave 1 sg. indic.
The distribution of short vowels in unstressed syllables, other than when absolutely final, was quite restricted. It is usually thought that there were only two allowed phonemes: /ǝ/ (written _a_, _ai_, _e_ or _i_ depending on the quality of surrounding consonants) and /u/ (written _u_ or _o_). The phoneme /u/ tended to occur when the following syllable contained an *ū in Proto-Celtic (for example, _dligud_ /ˈdʲlʲiɣUð/ "law" (dat.) < PC *_dligedū_), or after a broad labial (for example, _lebor_ /ˈLʲevOr/ "book"; _domun_ /ˈdoṽUn/ "world"). The phoneme /ǝ/ occurred in other circumstances. The occurrence of the two phonemes was generally unrelated to the nature of the corresponding Proto-Celtic vowel, which could be any monophthong: long or short.
Long vowels also occur in unstressed syllables. However, they rarely reflect Proto-Celtic long vowels, which were shortened prior to the deletion (syncope) of inner syllables. Rather, they originate in one of the following ways:
* from the late resolution of a hiatus of two adjacent vowels (usually as a result of loss of *s between vowels); * from compensatory lengthening in response to loss of a consonant (_cenél_ "kindred, gender" < *_cenethl_; _du·air-chér_ "I have purchased" < *_-chechr_, preterite of _crenaid_ "buys" ); * from assimilation of an unstressed vowel to a corresponding long stressed vowel; * from late compounding; * from lengthening of short vowels before unlenited /m, N, L, R/, still in progress in Old Irish (compare _erríndem_ "highest" vs. _rind_ "peak" ).
Stress is generally on the first syllable of a word. However, in verbs it occurs on the second syllable when the first syllable is a clitic (the verbal prefix _as-_ in _as·beir_ /asˈberʲ/ "he says"). In such cases, the unstressed prefix is indicated in grammatical works with a following centre dot (·).
As with most medieval languages, the orthography of Old Irish is not fixed, so the following statements are to be taken as generalisations only. Individual manuscripts may vary greatly from these guidelines.
In addition, the acute accent and the superdot are used as diacritics with certain letters:
* The acute accent indicates a long vowel . The following are long vowels: _á_, _é_, _í_, _ó_, _ú_. * The superdot indicates the lenition of _f_ and _s_: _ḟ_ is silent, _ṡ_ is pronounced /h/ * The superdot is also sometimes used on _m_ and _n_, with no change in pronunciation, when these letters are used to mark the nasalisation mutation: _ṁ_, _ṅ_.
Some digraphs are also used: The letter _i_ is placed after a vowel letter to indicate that the following consonant was palatalised: _ai_, _ei_, _oi_, _ui_; _ái_, _éi_, _ói_, _úi_ The letter _h_ is placed after _c_, _t_, _p_ to indicate a fricative : _ch_, _th_, _ph_ The diphthongs are also indicated by digraphs: _áe_/_aí_, _ía_, _uí_, _áu_, _óe_/_oí_, _úa_, _éu_, _óu_, _iu_, _au_, _eu_
The following table indicates the broad pronunciation of various consonant letters in various environments:
CONSONANT LETTER WORD-INITIAL AFTER A VOWEL
UNMUTATED NASALISED LENITED
b /b/ — /v/
c /k/ /ɡ/ — /k, ɡ/
d /d/ — /ð/
f /f/ /v/ silent /f/
g /ɡ/ — /ɣ/
h See discussion below
l /L/ /l/
m /m/ /ṽ/
n /N/ /n/
p /p/ /b/ — /p, b/
r /R/ /r/
s /s/ /h/ /s/
t /t/ /d/ — /t, d/
* A dash (—) in an entry indicates that the respective consonant sound is spelled differently under the respective mutation (lenition or nasalisation) and so the indicated consonant letter does not occur then (the spelling _c_ does not occur in a leniting environment; instead, _ch_ /x/ does). See the next two entries. * Lenited _c, p, t_ are spelled _ch_ /x/, _ph_ /f/, _th_ /θ/ respectively. * Nasalized _b, d, g_ are spelled _m-b_ /mb/, _n-d_ /nd/, _n-g_ /nɡ/ respectively. * In some cases, lenited _f_ and _s_ are spelled with a superdot. * When initial _s_ stemmed from Primitive Irish _*sw-_, its lenited version is _f_ (written and pronounced).
The slender (palatalised ) variants of the above consonants occur in the following environments:
* before a written _e_, _é_, _i_, _í_; * after a written _i_, when not followed by a vowel letter (but not after the diphthongs _aí_, _oí_, _uí_).
Although Old Irish has both a sound /h/ and a letter _h_, there is no consistent relationship between the two. Vowel-initial words are sometimes written with an unpronounced _h_, especially if they are very short (the preposition _i_ "in" was sometimes written _hi_) or if they need to be emphasised (the name of Ireland, _Ériu_, was sometimes written _Hériu_). On the other hand, words that begin with the sound /h/ are usually written without it: _a ór_ /a hoːr/ "her gold". If the sound and the spelling co-occur , it is by coincidence, as _ní hed_ /Nʲiː heð/ "it is not".
After a vowel or _l_, _n_, or _r_ the letters _c, p, t_ can stand for either voiced or voiceless stops; they can also be written double with either value:
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
_mac_ or _macc_ /mak(k)/ son
_bec_ or _becc_ /bʲeɡ(ɡ)/ small
_op_ or _opp_ /ob(b)/ refuse
_brat_ or _bratt_ /brat(t)/ mantle
_brot_ or _brott_ /brod(d)/ goad
derc /dʲerk/ hole
derc /dʲerɡ/ red
daltae /daLte/ fosterling
celtae /kʲeLde/ who hide
anta /aNta/ of remaining
antae /aNde/ who remain
Geminate consonants appear to have existed at the beginning of the Old Irish period but were simplified by the end, as is generally reflected by the spelling generally although double _ll_, _mm_, _nn_, _rr_ were eventually repurposed to indicate nonlenited variants of those sounds in certain positions.
After a vowel the letters _b_, _d_, _g_ stand for the fricatives /v, ð, ɣ/ or their slender equivalents:
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
dub /duv/ black
mod /moð/ work
mug /muɣ/ slave
claideb /klaðʲǝv/ sword
claidib /klaðʲǝvʲ/ swords
After _m_, _b_ is a stop, but after _d_, _l_ and _r_, it is a fricative:
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
imb /imʲbʲ/ butter
odb /oðv/ knot (in a tree)
delb /dʲelv/ image
marb /marv/ dead
After _n_ and _r_, _d_ is a stop:
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
bind /bʲiNʲdʲ/ melodious
cerd /kʲeRd/ "art, skill"
After _n_, _l_, and _r_, _g_ is usually a stop, but it is a fricative in a few words:
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
long /Loŋɡ/ ship
_delg_ or _delc_ /dʲelɡ/ thorn
_argat_ or _arggat_ /arɡ(ɡ)ǝd/ silver
ingen /inʲɣʲǝn/ daughter
ingen /iNʲɡʲǝn/ nail, claw
bairgen /barʲɣʲǝn/ loaf of bread
After vowels _m_ is usually a fricative, but sometimes a (nasal) stop, in which case it is also often written double:
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
dám /daːṽ/ company
_lom_ or _lomm_ /Lom/ bare
The digraphs _ch_, _ph_, _th_ do not occur in word-initial position except under lenition, but wherever they occur, they are pronounced /x/, /f/, /θ/.
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
ech /ex/ horse
oíph /oif/ beauty
áth /aːθ/ ford
The letters _l_, _n_, and _r_ are generally written double when they indicate the tense sonorants, single when they indicate the lax sonorants. Originally, it reflected an actual difference between single and geminate consonants, as tense sonorants in many positions (such as between vowels or word-finally) developed from geminates. As the gemination was lost, the use of written double consonants was repurposed to indicate tense sonorants. Doubly written consonants of this sort do not occur in positions where tense sonorants developed from non-geminated Proto-Celtic sonorants (such as word-initially or before a consonant).
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION ENGLISH
corr /koR/ crane
cor /kor/ putting
coll /koL/ hazel
col /kol/ sin
sonn /soN/ stake
son /son/ sound
ingen /inʲɣʲǝn/ daughter
ingen /iNʲɡʲǝn/ nail, claw
Written vowels _a_, _ai_, _e_, _i_ in poststressed syllables (except absolutely word-finally) all seem to represent phonemic /ǝ/. The particular vowel that appears is determined by the quality (broad vs. slender) of the surrounding consonants and has no relation to the etymological vowel quality:
PRECEDING CONSONANT FOLLOWING CONSONANT SPELLING EXAMPLE
broad broad _a_ _dígAl_ /ˈdʲiːɣǝl/ "vengeance" (nom. )
broad slender (in open syllable) _a_
broad slender (in closed syllable) _ai_ _dígAIl_ /ˈdʲiːɣǝlʲ/ "vengeance" (acc. /dat. )
slender broad _e_ _dligEd_ /ˈdʲlʲiɣʲǝð/ "law" (acc. )
slender slender _i_ _dligId_ /ˈdʲlʲiɣʲǝðʲ/ "law" (gen. )
It seems likely that spelling variations reflected allophonic variations in the pronunciation of /ǝ/.
Old Irish was affected by a series of phonological changes that
radically altered its appearance compared with
Proto-Celtic and older
Celtic languages (such as
Gaulish , which still had the appearance of
Indo-European languages such as
* Syllable-final *n (from PIE *m, *n) assimilated to the following phoneme, even across word boundaries in the case of syntactically connected words.
* Voiceless stops became voiced: *mp *nt *nk > /b d ɡ/. * Voiced stops became prenasalised /ᵐb, ⁿd, ᵑɡ/. They were reduced to simple nasals during the Old Irish period. * Before a vowel, /n-/ was attached to the beginning of the syllable.
* Lenition of all single consonants between vowels. That applied across word boundaries in the case of syntactically connected words.
* Stops became fricatives. * *s became /h/ (later lost unless the following syllable was stressed). * *w was eventually lost (much later). * *m became a nasalised continuant (/w̃/; perhaps or ). * *l *n *r remained, but the non-lenited variants were strengthened to /L N R/ (see phonology section above ).
* Extensive umlaut ("affection") of short vowels, which were raised or lowered to agree with the height of following Proto-Celtic vowels. Similarly, rounding of *a to /o/ or /u/ often occurred adjacent to labial consonants . * Palatalization of all consonants before front vowels. * Loss of part or all of final syllables. * Loss of most interior vowels (syncope ).
They led to the following effects:
* Both the palatalised ("slender") and lenited variants of consonants were phonemicised , multiplying the consonant inventory by four (broad, broad lenited, slender, slender lenited). Variations between broad and slender became an important part of the grammar:
* in masc. _o_-stems: _macc_ "son" (nom. acc.) vs. _maicc_ (gen.),
_cúl_ "back" (nom. acc.) vs. _cúil_ (gen.), cf.
* Lenition and nasal assimilation across word boundaries in syntactically connected words produced extensive sandhi effects (Irish initial mutations ). The variations became an important part of the grammar. * Both umlaut (vowel affection) and especially syncope radically increased the amount of allomorphy found across declensions and conjugations. The most dramatic deviations are due to syncope: compare _as·BERat_ "they say" vs. _ní-Epret_ "they do not say" or _do·Rósc(a)i_ "he surpasses" vs. _ní-DERscaigi_ "he does not surpass" (where the stressed syllable is boldfaced).
EXAMPLES OF CHANGES
The following are some examples of changes between Primitive Irish and Old Irish.
PRIMITIVE IRISH OLD IRISH MEANING
inigena _ingen_ daughter
qrimitir _cruimther_ priest
maqqi _maicc_ son (gen.)
velitas _filed_ poet (gen.)
Lugudeccas _Luigdech_ genitive of Lug(u)id (name)
Anavlamattias _Anfolmithe_ genitive of Anblamath (name)
Coillabotas _Coílbad_ genitive of name
These various changes, especially syncope, produced quite complex allomorphy , because the addition of prefixes or various pre-verbal particles (proclitics ) in Proto-Celtic changed the syllable containing the stress: According to the Celtic variant of Wackernagel\'s Law , the stress fell on the second syllable of the verbal complex, including any prefixes and clitics. By the Old Irish period, most of this allomorphy still remained, although it was rapidly eliminated beginning in the Middle Irish period.
Among the most striking changes are in prefixed verbs with or without pre-verbal particles. With a single prefix and without a proclitic, stress falls on the verbal root, which assumes the _deuterotonic_ ("second-stressed") form. With a prefix and also with a proclitic, stress falls on the prefix, and the verb assumes the _prototonic_ ("first-stressed") form. Rather extreme allomorphic differences can result:
Example differences between deuterotonic and prototonic forms of various verbs. Stress falls directly after the center dot or hyphen. EARLIER FORM DEUTEROTONIC MEANING PROTOTONIC MEANING
*ess-bero(n)t < PIE *-bʰeronti _as·berat_ /as-ˈbʲerəd/ they say _ní-epret_ /Nʲiː-ˈhebrʲəd/ they do not say
*cum-uss-ana _con·osna_ he rests _ní-cumsana_ he does not rest
*de-ro-uss-scochi _do·rósc(a)i_ he surpasses _ní-derscaigi_ he does not surpass
*de-lugi < PIE *-logʰeyeti _do·lug(a)i_ he pardons _ní-dílg(a)i_ he does not pardon
*de-ro-gn... _do·róna_ he may do _ní-derna_ he may not do
The following table shows how these forms might have been derived:
Possible derivation of some verbal forms
"THEY SAY" "THEY DO NOT SAY" "HE RESTS" "HE DOES NOT REST" "HE SURPASSES" "HE DOES NOT SURPASS"
POST-PIE eks bʰeronti nē eks bʰeronti kom uks h₂eneh₂ti nē kom uks h₂eneh₂ti dē pro uks skokeyeti nē dē pro uks skokeyeti
PROTO-CELTIC eks ˈberonti nī ˈeks-beronti kom ˈuks-anāti nī ˈkom-uks-anāti dī ˈɸro-uks-skokīti nī ˈdī-ɸro-uks-skokīti
EARLY IRISH ess-es ˈberont ní-s ˈess-beront kon-es ˈuss-anát ní-s ˈkom-uss-anát dí-s ˈro-uss-skokít ní-s ˈdi-ro-uss-skokít
NASAL ASSIMILATION ess-es ˈberodd ní-s ˈess-berodd — — — —
LENITION es-eh ˈberod Ní-h ˈes-berod kon-eh ˈus-anáθ Ní-h ˈkow̃-us-anáθ dí-h ˈRo-us-skoxíθ Ní-h ˈdi-ro-us-skoxíθ
PALATALIZATION es-eh ˈbʲerod Nʲí-h ˈes-bʲerod — Nʲí-h ˈkow̃-us-anáθ dʲí-h ˈRo-us-skoxʲíθ Nʲí-h ˈdʲi-ro-us-skoxʲíθ
HIATUS REDUCTION — — — — dʲí-h ˈRós-skoxʲíθ Nʲí-h ˈdʲi-rós-skoxʲíθ
UMLAUT (VOWEL AFFECTION) — — kon-eh ˈos-anáθ Nʲí-h ˈkuw̃-us-anáθ — Nʲí-h ˈdʲe-rós-skoxʲíθ
SHORTENING OF ABSOLUTELY FINAL VOWEL — — — — — —
LOSS/ASSIMILATION OF FINAL CONSONANT(S) es-e bʲ-ˈbʲerod Nʲí h-ˈes-bʲerod kon-e h-ˈos-aná Nʲí k-ˈkuw̃-us-aná dʲí R-ˈRós-skoxʲí Nʲí d-ˈdʲe-rós-skoxʲí
MORA REDUCTION IN UNSTRESSED FINAL VOWEL es bʲ-ˈbʲerod — kon h-ˈos-ana Nʲí k-ˈkuw̃-us-ana dʲí R-ˈRós-skoxʲi Nʲí d-ˈdʲe-rós-skoxʲi
CONSONANT ASSIMILATION es ˈbʲerod Nʲí h-ˈebʲ-bʲerod kon h-ˈos-ana Nʲí k-ˈkuw̃-us-ana dʲí R-ˈRós-skoxʲi Nʲí d-ˈdʲe-rós-skoxʲi
SYNCOPE es ˈbʲerod Nʲí h-ˈebʲbʲrod kon h-ˈosna Nʲí k-ˈkuw̃sana dʲí R-ˈRósskxʲi Nʲíd-ˈdʲersskoxʲi
FURTHER CONSONANT ASSIMILATION — Nʲí h-ˈebʲbʲrʲod kon ˈosna — dʲí R-ˈRósski Nʲíd-ˈdʲerskoxʲi
UNSTRESSED VOWEL REDUCTION es ˈbʲerǝd Nʲí h-ˈebʲbʲrʲǝd — Nʲí k-ˈkuw̃sǝna di R-ˈRósski Nʲí d-ˈdʲerskǝxʲi
PREPOSITIONAL MODIFICATION as ˈbʲerǝd — — — do R-ˈRósski —
GEMINATE REDUCTION (NON-VOCALIC-ADJACENT); SANDHI GEMINATE REDUCTION as·ˈbʲerǝd Nʲíh-ˈebrʲǝd kon·ˈosna Nʲí-ˈkuw̃sǝna do·ˈRóski Nʲí-ˈdʲerskǝxʲi
FRICATIVE VOICING BETWEEN UNSTRESSED SYLLABLES — — — — — Nʲíd-ˈdʲerskǝɣʲi
OLD IRISH PRONUNCIATION as·ˈbʲerǝd Nʲí-h-ˈebrʲǝd kon·ˈosna Nʲí-ˈkuw̃sǝna do·ˈRóski Nʲí-ˈdʲerskǝɣʲi
OLD IRISH SPELLING _as·berat_ _ní-epret_ _con·osna_ _ní-(c)cumsana_ _do·rósc(a)i_ _ní-(d)derscaigi_
The most extreme allomorphy of all came from the third person singular of the _s_-subjunctive because an athematic person marker _-t_ was used, added directly onto the verbal stem (formed by adding _-s_ directly onto the root). That led to a complex word-final cluster, which was deleted entirely. In the prototonic form (after two proclitics), the root was unstressed and thus the root vowel was also deleted, leaving only the first consonant:
Examples of extreme allomorphy of 3rd person singular _s_-subjunctive, conjunct
PRESENT INDICATIVE PRESENT SUBJUNCTIVE
POSITIVE (DEUTEROTONIC) NEGATIVE (PROTOTONIC) POSITIVE (DEUTEROTONIC) NEGATIVE (PROTOTONIC)
PRIMITIVE IRISH OLD IRISH PRIMITIVE IRISH OLD IRISH PRIMITIVE IRISH OLD IRISH PRIMITIVE IRISH OLD IRISH
"HE REFUSES" *uss ˈbond-et(i) _as·boind_ *nís ˈuss-bond-et(i) _ní op(a)ind_ /obǝnʲdʲ/ *uss 'bod-s-t _as·bó_ *nís ˈuss-bod-s-t _ní op_ /ob/
"HE REMAINS OVER" *di ˈwo-uss-ret-et(i) _do·fúarat_ *nís ˈdi-wo-uss-ret-et(i) _ní díurat_ *di ˈwo-uss-ret-s-t _do·fúair_ *nís ˈdi-wo-uss-ret-s-t _ní diúair_
"HE REPEATS, AMENDS" *ad ˈess-reg-et(i) _ad·eirrig_ *nís ˈ*ad-ess-reg-et(i) (_ní aithrig_?? >) _ní aithirrig_ *ad ˈess-reg-s-t _ath·e(i)rr_ *nís ˈad-ess-reg-s-t _ní aithir_
"HE CAN" *con ˈink-et(i) _com·ic_ *nís ˈcom-ink-et(i) _ní cum(a)ic_ > _ní cum(u)ing, ní cumaing_ *con ˈink-s-t _con·í_ *nís ˈcom-ink-s-t, *nís ˈcom-ink-ā-t _ní cum_, _ní cumai_
"IT HAPPENS" *ad ˈcom-ink-et(i) (_ad·cum(a)ic_ >) _ad·cumaing_ *nís ˈad-com-ink-et(i) (_ní ecm(a)ic_ >) _ní ecmaing_ *ad ˈcom-ink-ā-t _ad·cumai_ *nís ˈad-com-ink-ā-t _ní ecm(a)i_
SYNCOPE IN DETAIL
In more detail, syncope of final and intervocalic syllables involved the following steps (in approximate order):
* Shortening of absolutely final long vowels. * Loss of most final consonants, including *m, *n, *d, *t, *k, and all clusters involving *s (except *rs, *ls, where only the *s is lost). * Loss of absolutely final short vowels (including those that became final as a result of loss of a final consonant and original long final vowels). * Shortening of long vowels in unstressed syllables. * Collapsing of vowels in hiatus (producing new unstressed long vowels). * Syncope (deletion) of vowels in every other interior unstressed syllable following the stress. If there are two remaining syllables after the stress, the first one loses its vowel; if there are four remaining syllables after the stress, the first and third lose their vowel.
* Resolution of impossible clusters resulting from syncope and final-vowel deletion:
* Adjacent homorganic obstruents where either sound was a fricative became a geminate stop, voiceless if either sound was voiceless (e.g. *ðð *dð *ðd > /dd/; *θð *ðθ *θd *tθ etc. > /tt/). * Otherwise, adjacent obstruents assumed the voicing of the second consonant (e.g. *dt > /tt/; *kd > /gd/; *ɣt > /xt/). * *l *r *n not adjacent to a vowel became syllabic and then had a vowel inserted before them (e.g. _domun_ "world" < *domn < *domnos < *dumnos; _immormus_ "sin" < *imm-ro-mess). However, in the case of *n, that occurred only when the nasal had not previously been joined to a following voiced stop as a result of nasal assimilation: compare _frecnd(a)irc_ "present" (disyllabic). * Remaining impossible clusters were generally simplified by deletion of consonants not adjacent to vowels (such as between other consonants). However, Old Irish tolerated geminates adjacent to other consonants as well other quite complex clusters: _ainm_ /aNʲm/ "name" (one syllable), _fedb_ /fʲeðβ/ "widow", _do-aidbdetar_ /do-ˈaðʲβʲðʲǝdǝr/ "they are shown".
PROTO-CELTIC SHORT VOWELS, VOWEL AFFECTION
However, during the runup to Old Irish, several mutations (umlauts ) take place. Former vowels are modified in various ways depending on the following vowels (or sometimes surrounding consonants). The mutations are known in Celtic literature as _affections_ or _infections_ such as these, the most important ones:
* _i_-affection: Short *e and *o are raised to _i_ and _u_ when the following syllable contains a high vowel (*i, *ī, *u, *ū). It does not happen when the vowels are separated by certain consonant groups. * _a_-affection: Short *i and *u are lowered to _e_ and _o_ when the following syllable contains a non-high back vowel (*a, *ā, *o, *ō). * _u_-affection: Short *a, *e, *i are broken to short diphthongs _au_, _eu_, _iu_ when the following syllable contains a *u or *ū that was later lost. It is assumed that at the point the change operated, _u_-vowels that were later lost were short *u while those that remain were long *ū. The change operates after _i_-affection so original *e may end up as _iu_.
Nominal examples (reconstructed forms are Primitive Irish unless otherwise indicated):
* _sen_ "old (nominative singular)" < *senos, but _sin_ "old
(genitive singular)" < *senī (_i_-affection), _siun_ "old (dative
singular)" < *senu (_i_-affection and _u_-affection) < *senū < PIE
*senōi, _sinu_ "old (accusative plural)" < *senūs (_i_-affection but
no _u_-affection because _u_ remains) < PIE *senons.
* _fer_ "man (nominative singular)" < *wiros (_a_-affection), but
_fir_ "man (genitive singular)" < *wirī (no _a_-affection), _fiur_
"man (dative singular)" < *wiru (_u_-affection) < *wirū < PIE
*wirōi, _firu_ "men (accusative plural)" < *wirūs (no _u_-affection
because the _u_ remains) < PIE *wirons.
* _nert_ "strength (nominative singular)", but _neurt_ "strength
(dative singular)" < *nertu (_u_-affection but no _i_-affection, which
was blocked by the cluster _rt_) < *nertū < PIE *nertōi.
* _mil_ "honey" (_i_-affection) < PCelt *meli, _milis_ "sweet" <
* _fiurt_ "miracle (nominative singular)" < *wirtus (_u_-affection;
Verbal paradigm example:
FORM PRONUNCIATION MEANING PRIM IRISH POST-PIE COMMENTS
Absolute 1sg _biru_ /bʲiru/ "I carry" *berūs *bʰerō + -s _i_-affection
Absolute 2sg _biri_ /bʲirʲi/ "you (sg.) carry" *berisis *bʰeresi + -s _i_-affection (unstressed *-es- > *-is- in Primitive Irish, also found in _s_-stems)
Absolute 3sg _berith_ /bʲirʲǝθʲ/ "he carries" *beretis *bʰereti + -s Unstressed _i_ = /ǝ/ with surrounding palatalised consonants; see # Orthography
Conjunct 1sg _·biur_ /bʲĭŭr/ "I carry" *beru < *berū *bʰerō _i_-affection + _u_-affection
Conjunct 2sg _bir_ /bʲirʲ/ "you (sg.) carry" *beris < *berisi *bʰeresi _i_-affection (unstressed *-es- > *-is- in Primitive Irish)
Conjunct 3sg _beir_ /bʲerʲ/ "he carries" *beret < *bereti *bʰereti _i_ in _ei_ signals palatalisation of following consonant; see # Orthography
The result of _i_-affection and _a_-affection is that it is often impossible to distinguish whether the root vowel was originally *e or *i (_sen_ < *senos and _fer_ < *wiros have identical declensions). However, note the cases of _nert_ vs. _fiurt_ above for which _i_-affection, but not _a_-affection, was blocked by an intervening _rt_.
PROTO-CELTIC LONG VOWELS AND DIPHTHONGS
Proto-Celtic long vowels and diphthongs develop in stressed syllables as follows:
PROTO-CELTIC ARCHAIC OLD IRISH LATER OLD IRISH EXAMPLE(S)
_cúl_ "back" (cf.
/ai/ (spelled _áe_ or _aí_)
merged (both spellings used)
_cáech_ "one-eyed" < PIE *káikos (cf.
/oi/ (spelled _óe_ or _oí_)
_oín_, _óen_ "one" < PIE *oinos (cf. archaic
*ei > ē
_·tíagat_ "they go" < archaic _·tégot_ < PIE *steigʰ- (cf.
*au (+C) > ō
_úaithed_, _úathad_ "singleness" < IE *h₂eu "again" + *to-
*eu/ou (+C) > ō _núa_, _núë_ "new" < archaic _núae_ < PC *noujos (cf. Gaulish _novios_) < IE *neu-io-s (cf. Gothic _niujis_) _túath_ "tribe, people" < PC *toutā < IE *teutā (cf. Gothic _þiuda_) _rúad_ "red" < PC *roudos < PIE *h₁reudʰ- (cf. Gothic _rauþs_)
*au (not +C)
_ó_ < archaic _áu_, _aue_ "ear" < PC *ausos < IE *h₂eus- (cf.
*ou (not +C) óu > áu _bó_ ‘cow’ < archaic _báu_ < early archaic _bóu_ (_c_. a.d. 700) < PC *bowos (gen.sg.) < PIE *gʷh₃-eu-
The Old Irish diphthongs _úi_, _éu_, _íu_ stem from earlier sequences of short vowels separated by *_w_, e.g. _drúid-_ "druid" < *dru-wid- "tree-knower".
Most instances of _é_ and _ó_ in nonarchaic Old Irish are due to compensatory lengthening of short vowels before lost consonants or to the merging of two short vowels in hiatus : _cét_ /kʲeːd/ ‘hundred’ < Proto-Celtic _kantom_ (cf. Welsh _cant_) < PIE *kṃtóm.
See Proto-Celtic for various changes that occurred in all the Celtic languages, but these are the most important:
* PIE *gʷ > Proto-Celtic *b (but PIE *gʷʰ > *gʷ). * Loss of aspiration in *bʰ *dʰ *gʰ *gʷʰ. * Loss of *p. Initially and intervocalically it was simply deleted; elsewhere, it variously became *w, *b, *x etc.
From Proto-Celtic to Old Irish, the most important changes are these:
* Lenition and palatalisation, multiplying the entire set of consonants by 4. See #History for more details. * Loss of most final consonants. See #Syncope in detail . * Proto-Celtic *s is lenited to /h/, which then disappears between vowels. In general, Old Irish _s_ when not word-initial stems from earlier geminate _ss_ (often still written as such, especially in archaic sources). * Proto-Celtic *kʷ *gʷ remain in Ogam Irish (maqqi "son" (gen. sg.)) but become simple _c g_ in Old Irish. Occasionally, they leave their mark by rounding the following vowel. * Proto-Celtic *w is lost early on between vowels, followed by early hiatus resolution. In some cases, *w combines with a preceding vowel to form a diphthong: _béu béo_ "living, alive" < *bewas < *biwos < *gʷiwos. Other instances of *w become , which still remains in Ogam Irish. By Old Irish times, this becomes _f-_ initially (e.g. _fer_ "man" < *wiros, _flaith_ "lordship" < *wlātis), lenited _b_ after lenited voiced sounds (e.g. _tarb_ "bull" < *tarwos, _fedb_ "widow" < *widwā), _f_ after lenited *s (lenited _fïur_ "sister" < *swesōr), and is lost otherwise (e.g. _dáu_ "two" < *dwōu, unlenited _sïur_ "sister" < *swesōr). * Proto-Celtic *y becomes *iy after a consonant, much as in Latin. The vowel *i often survives before a lost final vowel, partly indicating the nature of the final vowel as a result of vowel affection: _cride cridi cridiu_ "heart" (nom. gen. dat.) < *krideon *kridiī *kridiū < *kridiyom *kridiyī *kridiyū < Post-PIE *kṛdyom *kṛdyī *kṛdyōi. After this, *y is lost everywhere (after palatalising a preceding consonant).
Old Irish preserves, intact, most initial clusters unlike many other Indo-European languages.
Preserved initial clusters:
* _sn- smr- sr- sl- sc- scr- scl-_, e.g. _snám_ "swimming", _smiur_ "marrow", _sruth_ "stream", _scáth_ "shadow, reflection", _scrissid_ "he scratches (out)", _scléo_ "misery (?)". * _cr- cl- cn-_, e.g. _crú_ "blood", _cloth_ "fame", _cnú_ "nut". * _gr- gl- gn-_, e.g. _grían_ "sun", _glé_ "clear", _gnáth_ "customary". * _tr- tl- tn-_, e.g. _tromm_ "heavy', _tlacht_ "garment", _tnúth_ "jealousy, passion". * _dr- dl-_, e.g. _dringid_ "he climbs", _dlong(a)id_ "he cleaves". * _mr- ml-_, e.g. _mruig_ "land", _mliuchtae_ "milch". * _br- bl-_, e.g. _brú_ "belly", _bláth_ "flower".
Modified initial clusters:
* *wl- *wr- > _fl- fr-_, e.g. _flaith_ "lordship" < *wlātis, _froích_ "heather" < *wroikos. * *sp-/*sw- > _s-_ (lenited _f-_), e.g. _sïur_ "sister" (lenited _fïur_) < *suior < PIE *swesōr. * *st- > _t-_, e.g. _tíagu_ "I go" < *stēgū-s < post-IE *steigʰō. * *pl- *pr- lose the *p. * PIE *gʷn- > Proto-Celtic *bn- > _mn-_, e.g. _mná_ "woman" (gen. sg.) < *bnās < PIE *gʷneh₂s, an extremely archaic noun form.
Many intervocalic clusters are reduced, becoming either a geminate consonant or a simple consonant with compensatory lengthening of the previous vowel. During the Old Irish period, geminates are reduced to simple consonants, occurring earliest when adjacent to a consonant. By the end of the Old Irish period, written _ll mm nn rr_ are repurposed to indicate the non-lenited sounds /L m N R/ when occurring after a vowel and not before a consonant.
Cluster reduction involving *n:
* *nt *nk > unlenited /d g/ (normally written _t c_). Note that PCelt *ant,*ent > *ent > /eːd/ but *int *ont *unt > /idd odd udd/ like *nk: _cét_ /kʲeːd/ "hundred" < PCelt *kantom (cf. Welsh _cant_) < PIE *kṃtóm; _sét_ /sʲeːd/ "way" < *sentu- (vs. Breton _hent_); _ro·icc_, _ric(c)_ /r(o)-iɡɡ/ "he reaches" < *ro-ink- (vs. Bret _rankout_ "must, owe"); _tocad_ /toɡað/ "luck" (vs. Bret _tonkad_ "fate"). * *ns > unlenited _s_ with compensatory lengthening of a preceding vowel; *ans > *ens > _és_ similarly to *ant *ank: _géis_ "swan" < PCelt *gansi- < PIE *ǵʰh₂ens- (vs. Dutch _gans_ "goose").
Cluster reduction involving *s *z:
* Medial *sm *sn *sl > _mm nn ll_: _am(m)_ "I am" < PIE *esmi. * Medially, *st > _ss_ (but *str > _str_, *rst > _rt_). * *zb > _db_ /ðv/, *zg > _dg_ /ðɣ/ (but _rg_ after an unstressed syllable), *zd > /dd/: _net_ /nedd/ "nest" < PIE *nisdos /nizdos/.
Lenited stops *x *ɣ *θ *ð generally disappear before sonorants *r *l *n *m, with compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel. Many examples occur in reduplicated preterites or words with consonant-final prefixes (such as _ad-_):
* _du·air-chér_ "I have purchased" < *-xexr < PCelt *-kikra; * _·cúal(a)e_ "he heard" < *koxlowe < PCelt *kuklowe; * _áram_ "number" < *að-rīm; * _ám thám_ "a moving to and fro" < *aɣm θ-aɣm (verbal nouns of _agid_ "he drives" and compound _do·aig_); * _dál_ "assembly" < *daθl (cf. Old Welsh _datl_).
However, *θr, *βr, *βl survive: _críathraid_ "he perforates" < PCelt *krētrāti-s; _gabur_ "goat" < PCelt *gabros (cf. Welsh _gafr_); _mebul_ "shame" (cf. Welsh _mefl_).
Main article: Old Irish grammar
* ^ It is difficult to know for sure, given how little Primitive
Irish is attested and the limitations of the
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_
* _ingen_ /inʲɣʲǝn/ "daughter" < Ogam inigena < Proto-Celtic
* ^ _A_ _B_ When followed by a consonant in Old Irish. * ^ _A_ _B_ When not followed by a consonant in Old Irish. This includes words originally followed by *_s_, which was lost by Old Irish times. * ^ Originally a neuter proterokinetic noun of the form *gʷenh₂ (nom. sg.), *gʷneh₂s (gen. sg.). The original PIE nominative is still preserved in poetic or legal Old Irish _béN_ "woman" (still neuter!) < Proto-Celtic *ben < PIE *gʷenh₂. The normal Old Irish nominative is _benL_ (feminine) < Proto-Celtic *benā < *ben + normal feminine *-ā. No other IE language preserves the original neuter gender.
* ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). " Old Irish (to 900)". _ Glottolog 2.7 _. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. * ^ _A_ _B_ Koch, John Thomas (2006). _Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia_. ABC-CLIO. p. 831. The Old Irish of the period c. 600–c. 900 AD is as yet virtually devoid of dialect differences, and may be treated as the common ancestor of the Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx of the Middle Ages and modern period; Old Irish is thus sometimes called 'Old Gaelic' to avoid confusion. * ^ Ó Baoill, Colm (1997). "13: The Scots-Gaelic Interface". _The Edinburgh History of the Scots Language_. Edinburgh University Press. p. 551. The oldest form of the standard that we have is the language of the period c. AD 600–900, usually called 'Old Irish' – but this use of the word 'Irish' is a misapplication (popular among English-speakers in both Ireland and Scotland), for that period of the language would be more accurately called 'Old Gaelic'. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 4. * ^ Kortlandt 2007 , p. 8. * ^ _A_ _B_ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 79. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 32. * ^ Kortlandt 2007 . * ^ Greene 1973 . * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 18. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 137. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 181. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 58. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 98. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , pp. 192–193. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 42. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 68. * ^ Fortson 2004 , p. 324. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , pp. 70,100. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , pp. 46–50,57. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 36. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , p. 125. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , pp. 128–140. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , pp. 123–139. * ^ Thurneysen 1946 , pp. 126–127.
* Beekes, Robert (1995). _Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction_. * Fortson, Benjamin W., IV (2004). _Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction_. * Green, Antony (1995). _ Old Irish Verbs and Vocabulary_. Somerville, Massachusetts: Cascadilla Press. ISBN 1-57473-003-7 . * Greene, David (1973). "The Growth of Palatalization in Old Irish". _Transactions of the Philological Society_. 72 (1): 127–136. doi :10.1111/j.1467-968X.1973.tb01017.x . * Kortlandt, Frederik Herman Henri (2007). _Italo-Celtic Origins and the Prehistory of the Irish Language_. Leiden Studies in Indo-European. 14. Rodopi. ISBN 9042021772 . * Lehmann, R. P. M.; W. P. Lehmann (1975). _An Introduction to Old Irish_. New York: Modern Language Association of America. ISBN 0-87352-289-3 . * Matasović, Ranko (2011). _Problems in the Reconstruction of Proto-Celtic_ (PDF). Pavia Summer School in Indo-European Linguistics.
* McCone, Kim (1987). _The Early Irish Verb_. Maynooth: An Sagart. ISBN 1-870684-00-1 . * McCone, Kim (2005). _A First Old Irish Grammar and Reader_. Maynooth: Department of Old and Middle Irish, National University of Ireland. ISBN 0-901519-36-7 . * O'Connell, Frederick William (1912). _A Grammar of Old Irish_. Belfast: Mayne, Boyd & Son. * Quin, E. G. (1975). _Old-Irish Workbook_. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 0-901714-08-9 . * Ringe, Don (2006). _From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic_. * Sihler, Andrew (1995). _New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin_. Oxford University Press. * Stifter, David (2006). _Sengoidelc: Old Irish for Beginners_. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-3072-7 . * Strachan, John (1949). _Old-Irish Paradigms and Selections from the Old-Irish Glosses_. Revised by Osborn Bergin (Fourth ed.). Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. ISBN 0-901714-35-6 . * Thurneysen, Rudolf (1946). _A Grammar of Old Irish_. Translated by