User talk:Angr

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Irish sound changes[edit]

Would you happen to know anything about sound changes in the history of Irish? Both from Celtic to Old Irish, and from there to modern Irish. —CodeCat 21:12, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Yes, I know a fair amount about them, and what I don't know I can look up! —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:13, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I would like to know more, in particular something I could add to a Wikipedia article maybe. It's currently lacking in that respect. —CodeCat 21:14, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Okay. This book has a lot of info if you have access to a library that carries it. So does Stair na Gaeilge: In Omor do Phadraig O'Fiannachta, but it's written in Irish. Any specific questions? —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:20, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately I don't have access to that. The w:Old Irish article has quite a lot of information about the developments leading up to Old Irish, but there is nothing about what happened in the transition to Middle and Modern Irish. The reason I am personally curious is that it might give insight into a lot of the idiosyncrasies of Irish spelling. For example why does "eo" now signify a long o? And there's also the apparent change e > a before a broad consonant which is very visible. These things might be useful to document on Wikipedia, and I think they would be a huge help for someone trying to get a deeper understanding of why Irish is written the way it is. —CodeCat 21:44, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, that's all stuff I vaguely intended to get around to putting at Wikipedia someday, but real life intervened. I have some detailed stuff on Irish orthography on some user subpages of mine at Wikipedia (you can find the links at w:User:Angr), but I was so overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that I never finished them and put them into mainspace. Also, they're not terribly diachronic, though since they're about the spelling-to-sound rules they are by necessity at least a little diachronic.
There are a few words where eo is short (deoch, eochair, seo), and the long sound used to be spelled , but already Dinneen (i.e. a few decades before the spelling reform of the '50s) decided that since long outnumbered short eo 99 to 1, they'd go ahead and drop the fada and just allow the few words in which it's short to be exceptions. It comes from the Old Irish long diphthong /eːu̯/. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 21:57, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
That's an orthographic change as much as a phonetic one.
(Hereafter I expect to embarrass myself horribly) As I understand it, Old Irish had three qualities of vowel: broad, slender and neutral. "e" was neutral, and so you had to look to the vowel on the other side of the consonant group to figure out whether the consonants were velarised or palatalised. (Were there neutral quality consonants as well?)
As well, you had the complication that Old Irish was written in Latin script, and Latin orthography was bent to fit. Which is why Old Irish showed lenited "c" and "t" with following "h" (because Latin had "ch" and "th" ready), lenited "f" and "s" by symbolically erasing them ("ḟ" and "ṡ" are marked with the punctus delens, the "mark of deletion". Or, for "ḟ", it was left out entirely), and the rest were unmarked except, unreliably, in lacking marked gemination. Middle Irish is the period where a new orthography was evolving, combined with massive changes and simplifications in the language.
We can tell a lot about the pronunciation not only from the descendant languages, but from borrowings into, eg., Old Norse (eg: Old Irish Eithne → Old Norse Eðna), and spellings of foreign names in the contemporary records (Amlaíb for Óláfr). --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 22:10, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Old Irish had two qualities of consonant: broad and slender, also called plain and palatalized. Thurneysen thought there were also u-colored consonants, but people don't believe that anymore. There aren't different qualities of vowel phonologically speaking (nor are there in Modern Irish), but because the vowel letters are used to indicate consonant quality, people informally talk about "broad vowels" and "slender vowels" to mean "vowel letters indicating broad consonants" and "vowel letters indicating slender consonants". Everything else you said above seems to be right. I've actually just posted Appendix:Old Irish pronunciation for anyone who's interested. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 22:20, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Another book with information about the development from Old Irish to Modern Irish is Irish Dialects Past and Present by Thomas F. O'Rahilly, though it's from 1932 and thus somewhat dated in some respects. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 15:36, 5 August 2014 (UTC)


How do consonants like "s" and "z" get rhotacised? Like, for instance, what happened in non-East Germanic languages to Proto-Germanic *z.

I ask because I can't fathom how such a sound change could occur, nevermind how that new "r" phoneme could then merge with the separately existing "r" phoneme. If the sound was "l" or "n" or something, I could better justify that in my mind. But "z"? That seems ridiculous!

I mean, in Runic Norse, the symbol for the "z~r" sound was indicated by flipping the old *Algiz rune upside down, so they clearly realised that the new sound was different enough from the old sound to warrant that, and they also didn't seem to confuse it with their *Raiðō rune, so the sound was clearly distinct. Yet it later merged for some reason in the descendant languages. Tharthan (talk) 20:24, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

If it's any consolation, the same sound change happened in Latin too, which is why the genitives of mus and genus are muris and generis. "Why" is usually an unanswerable question in historical linguistics, but if you make a /z/ sound and then move your tongue just ever so slightly away from your alveolar ridge, you'll find yourself making something not too far away from /ɹ/. Acoustically, they're very different, but articulatorily, they're actually fairly close to each other. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 20:31, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough. But that doesn't explain why that new medial and final "z~r" sound (that was still separate enough from "r" for people to notice) would end up merging with "r". That seems like a bit of a chain shift; an unnatural one at that. Tharthan (talk) 01:34, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

pían and pén[edit]

I thought that Old Irish had already undergone the é > ía change, alongside ó > úa? —CodeCat 14:18, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, it did, but according to the Dictionary of the Irish Language, the only nominative singular attested for this word before Middle Irish is pén (though the plural píana is attested in the Milan glosses). Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't just merge sga and mga into a single language here at Wiktionary, since the border between them is so fluid. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 14:28, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Explanatory style[edit]

Review Help:Writing definitions. It's possible they misworded it but, as is, they simply said most translations are incomplete and hastily done; the fragmentary style is optional; and (given that it's frankly silly to have separate styles or to mandate that one always be fragmentary and poorly done) there's no reason to revert to the worse optional format.

Now, that said, if those definitions are somehow wrong or misleading (shouldn't be—they're linked through and punctuated so that people know we're not talking about a man or thing named "River"), by all means improve them. — LlywelynII 22:36, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Angr is correct: English entries generally use the capital-letter + full-stop format for definitions ("A river."). Non-English entries generally do not have definitions, they have glosses/translations, and those use simple links ("river"). - -sche (discuss) 22:44, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
Right. "River" isn't a definition, it's a gloss, and it definitely isn't a sentence and so shouldn't be punctuated like one. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 07:15, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Alt form: abhuinn[edit]

Since you seem like someone to ask, though: "Avon" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed. has "Gaelic abhuinn" where abhainn is clearly meant. Is it just a conjugated form? or an older variant we should list and link? or an old misspelling that we shouldn't bother drawing any attention to? — LlywelynII 22:38, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

I'll put money on EB9 meaning Scottish Gaelic wherever it says simply "Gaelic". And abhuinn is found in the wild as a Gàidhlig variant of abhainn. Dwelly notes it as a variant of abhainn. --Catsidhe (verba, facta) 00:04, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, already in early Middle Irish the dative/accusative singular form fluctuated between abainn/abaind and abuinn/abuind. They'd be pronounced the same anyway. —Aɴɢʀ (talk) 07:19, 27 August 2014 (UTC)