Middle Irish

Middle Irish, sometimes called Middle Gaelic (Irish: An Mheán-Ghaeilge), is the Goidelic which was spoken in Ireland, most of Scotland and the Isle of Man from circa 900–1200 AD; it is therefore a contemporary of late Old English and early Middle English. The modern Goidelic languages—Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Manx—are all descendants of Middle Irish.

The Lebor Bretnach, the "Irish Nennius", survives only from manuscripts preserved in Ireland; however, Thomas Owen Clancy has argued that it was written in Scotland, at the monastery in Abernethy.

Grammar

Middle Irish inscription from Clonmacnoise: Oroit ar Thurcain lasan dernad in chrossa: "Pray for Turcan by whom this cross was made."

Middle Irish is a fusional, VSO, nominative-accusative language.

Nouns decline for two genders: masculine, feminine, though traces of neuter declension persist; three numbers: singular, dual, plural; and five cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, prepositional, vocative. Adjectives agree with nouns in gender, number, and case.

Verbs conjugate for three tenses: past, present, future; four moods: indicative, subjunctive, conditional, imperative; independent and dependent forms. Verbs conjugate for three persons and an impersonal, agentless form (agent). There are a number of preverbal particles marking the negative, interrogative, subjunctive, relative clauses, etc.

Prepositions inflect for person and number. Different prepositions govern different cases, depending on intended semantics.

Example

The following is a poem in Middle Irish about Eógan Bél, King of Connacht.

Further reading

  • MacManus, Damian (1983). "A chronology of the Latin loan words in early Irish". Ériu. 34: 21–71.
  • McCone, Kim (1978). "The dative singular of Old Irish consonant stems". Ériu. 29: 26–38.
  • McCone, Kim (1981). "Final /t/ to /d/ after unstressed vowels, and an Old Irish sound law". Ériu. 31: 29–44.
  • McCone, Kim (1996). "Prehistoric, Old and Middle Irish". Progress in medieval Irish studies. pp. 7–53.
  • McCone, Kim (2005). A First Old Irish Grammar and Reader, Including an Introduction to Middle Irish. Maynooth Medieval Irish Texts 3. Maynooth.

See also

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Middle Irish, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.