> I do just want to ask, for my own peace of
> mind since this is puzzling me a bit, whether sopor definately has to
> be a created word standing in for well.
Well, that's a good question. My own line of argument is the
there are onyl 5 attestations of that word in Irish literature, one
in I2T, one in MD and 3 in glossaries. The attestations in the
glossaries definitely derive directly from I2T and as such have no
independent value for the existence of the word. Furthermore in one
glossary the word is so heavily mutilated (fofor, fophor) that it is
apparent that the scribe had no personal acquaintance with the word
whatsoever. The word simply meant nothing to him, and whether he
wrote sopor, or fophor or fofor made no difference to him.
The only independent piece of evidence for the existence of sopor
could be in the Met Dinds., but even there it can be argued that a
connection to I2T exists: in one MS the poem is ascribed to the poet
Cúan úa Locháin. Another poem about the Boand, possibly ascribed to
the same author, has textual parallels to allusions to the Boand in
I2T. So it is plausible that Cúan úa Locháin knew I2T and used
quotations from that text for his own compositions. A possible case
of Middle Irish intertextuality.
If the above is all correct it would mean that we only have I2T as
independent piece of evidence for the existence of sopor. The meaning
"well" ascribed to it solely rests on the gloss, on its similiarity
with topar "well", and on the fact that the meaning more or less fits
the context. But you are right, maybe sopor means something
completely different, and we could possibly think of hundreds of
meanings which would fit the context equally well, and equally well
the context in Met Dinds. But apart from our inspiration we would
also need methodologically sound arguments why sopor should have a
specific meaning. As the word is otherwise unattested, we lack
independent support for a different meaning. If somebody could come
up with a convincing etymology for a different meaning, that would
indeed be something. But nobody has done so so far.
My own explanation therefore is: Behind sopor nothing else than topar
"well" stands, and the variant with s is just a play with
phonological rules, maybe triggered by cases of lenition, where words
starting with s change that s to t after the leniting article, e.g.
súil /su:l'/ "eye", but in tshúil /in tu:l'/ "the eye."
> Umm, right. So, the text has been written to be obscure but without
> deliberate archaisation which only a trained person could decode.
> IOW, it has been written to be read by non-trained specialists, and to
> be transparent enough to be a source of entertainment / information
> while at the same time retaining or illustrating some of the obscurity
> of the subject-matter. Is this how you would see it?
More or less so, yes. But I must say that all that is just a working
hypothesis at the moment. Maybe I'll change my mind again if strong
arguments can be found that the text indeed is to be taken seriously.
I just try to take an alternative point of view of I2T now, because I
think that's the only way of detecting aspects of the text that
otherwise would never be touched upon.