Spring 2015: 105A

Introduction to Old and Middle Irish

4 units
TuTh 12:30-2
Thomas Walsh

Irish in its early forms (Old and Middle Irish) is Europe’s earliest and most extensively recorded vernacular language. Long a mainstay of linguists and literary scholars interested in the earliest periods of an Indo-European language, Old and Middle Irish also attracts those interested in ancient law, folklore, genealogy, history, as well as those who focus on the archaic cultural features of poetics, narrative, lyric, translation, law, religion, social structure, etc. The large surviving corpus of medieval Irish language texts includes legal, historical, legendary, genealogical, grammatical, poetic and religious works. We are fortunate that this vibrant pre-modern culture has left us much to think about in these and other areas.

This introduction to Old and Middle Irish language invites students from all fields, including but not limited to medievalists, Celticists, and historical linguists. Our goal is the reading of texts from early Irish narrative and poetry. We will begin with a detailed introduction to grammar and vocabulary; our emphasis will be on mastering the fundamentals necessary to understanding this language.

Written requirements: Weekly homework assignments and quizzes; a mid-term and a final exam.

Note: Students are encouraged to find used copies of these books; supplementary material will be available on reserve and on bCourses.

Quinn, E.G. Old Irish Workbook, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1975 ISBN 978-0901714084.
Strachan, J. and O. Bergin. (eds.) Stories from the Tain. Dublin:Royal Irish Academy 1944, repr. 1964, ISBN 1874045267.
De Vries, Ranke. A Student’s Companion to Old Irish Grammar. Forgotten Scholar Press, 2013. ISBN-13 978-0615783109.
Thurneysen, Rudolph, Grammar of Old Irish, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Celtic Studies, repr. 2003, ISBN 1855001616.
Strachan, J. ed. Rev. by O. Bergin. Old Irish-Paradigms and Selections from the Old-Irish Glosses (Fourth Edition). Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. 978-0901714350.

Recommended and on reserve:
Dictionary of the Irish Language: Compact Edition, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1983, repr. 1990. ISBN 0901714291.
Green, Antony, Old Irish Verbs and Vocabulary, Cascadilla Press: Somerville, MA, 1995. ISBN 1-5743-003-7.

Prerequisites: None.