Introductory Masterclass on Old and Middle Irish for Beginners (Workshop)

Harbour Centre 1510

Joey McMullen (Centenary University)
Georgia Henley (Saint Anselm College)

Old Irish is widely regarded as one of the most difficult Indo-European languages, famous for its (absurdly) complicated verbal system - this workshop will serve as a very basic introduction to Old and Middle Irish, with a focus on pronunciation and word recognition. We will begin with the essentials of pronunciation, including the effects of initial mutations (lenition, nasalization), with a focus on personal names from well-known prose tales and concept words (dindshenchas, óenach, fír flathemon, immram, etc.) important for teaching. We will then provide a basic overview of grammatical features, ultimately with the goal that one will come away from the seminar with enough knowledge to identify a passage in an edited text for quotation and, ideally, with a head start toward looking up lexical items in eDil (or another dictionary). If time permits, we will begin to translate a poem (eg., “Messe ocus Pangur Bán” - the famous poem about a scholar and his cat) at the end of the workshop. We will also offer a suggested “syllabus” and other beginner-level resources to continue learning Old Irish at home, on your own.