Wiktionary:About Old Irish

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Defining the language[edit]

Wikipedia defines Old Irish (ISO 639-3 sga) as the Goidelic language used between the 6th and 10th century AD. Earlier forms – primarily the Ogham inscriptions – are considered to be Primitive Irish rather than Old Irish by scholars, and should be labeled with the ISO 639-3 code pgl.

The border between Old Irish and Middle Irish is not particularly clear, and defining the difference between the two is made no easier by the fact that a large number of manuscripts were written during the Middle Irish era but in a language that was already archaic at the time. Certainly everything in the Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus can be considered Old Irish. In addition, words appearing in the Félire Óengusso, the Lebor na hUidre (LU), and the Book of Leinster (LL) can usually safely be labeled "Old Irish".

The Dictionary of the Irish Language includes not only Old Irish words, but also Middle Irish and Early Modern Irish words, so it's important to look at the attestations given in a lemma to decide what era the words belong to. It cannot be assumed that everything in that dictionary is Old Irish.


Since Old Irish has no standardized spelling, for convenience we generally use the spelling of the Dictionary of the Irish Language (online at http://www.dil.ie/) as the primary spelling (unless there are good reasons to use some other spelling as the primary one), and list other attested spellings as alternative spellings, using Template:alternative spelling of. The lemma form of verbs is the 3rd person singular present indicative, independent form (i.e. absolute form of simple verbs like marbaid, deuterotonic form of complex verbs like do·beir).

The raised dot (·) is used to show the "joint" of the verbal complex, i.e. it is placed before the stressed syllable. It is also placed at the beginning of prototonic and conjunct verb forms used in isolation (e.g. ·marb, ·tabair) to distinguish them from deuterotonic and absolute forms (e.g. marbaid, do·beir). However, the raised dot is not used in the names of pages. Thus the page for do·beir is called dobeir. (This parallels Wiktionary's approach to Latin and Old English, where macrons are used in display but not in page titles, and for the same reason: the raised dot in Old Irish is a pedagogical aid that did not appear in actual Old Irish writing.)

Of the diacritics, the acute accent is included in page names (thus fer and fér are distinct), as it is fairly regularly represented in manuscripts. But the punctum delens and the dieresis are not: sceïd is at sceid and muccḟoil is at muccfoil.

The language module knows to remove the raised dot, dieresis, and punctum when they are used inside a template identifying the language as Old Irish, so links like {{l|sga|do·beir}}, {{l|sga|sceïd}}}, and {{l|sga|muccḟoil}} will correctly point to [[dobeir]], [[sceid]], and [[muccfoil]].

What an entry should include[edit]

WT:ELE is the general guide to entry layout. Old Irish entries should follow that guide; sections that are especially to be remembered are "Alternative spellings" (since Old Irish has so many of them!) and "Descendants", where the Modern Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx descendants of the word should be listed.

Old Irish pronunciation is often rather speculative, but if pronunciation information is included, be sure to add the lang=sga parameter to the {{IPA}} template. This will create a link to w:Old Irish phonology, which in turn is a redirect to the "Phonology" section of the w:Old Irish article.

Verb conjugations may be shown by means of the conjugation-table templates {{sga-conj-complex}} and {{sga-conj-simple}}. For nouns, there are several declension-table templates listed at Category:Old Irish noun inflection-table templates. For mutations, use {{sga-mutation}}.

If an Old Irish word has descendants in modern Irish, Scottish Gaelic, or Manx, these may be listed in a "Descendants" section.

When creating a new entry for an Old Irish word, remember to create links to it too. The "Translations" section of the corresponding English word should include a line for Old Irish (indented below the line for Irish), and the entries for the modern Goidelic descendants should include an "Etymology" section that links to the Old Irish word.