Hi again Vyvyan,
this is part II:
> > You again imply that a language documentably spoken no earlier
> > than some centuries ago,
> No document can prove that.
As I've already said, we are nor speaking about proof, we are speaking
about documented evidence. From this documented evidence it is pretty
clear, that a language that is recognisable as modern Irish, and that
can easily be read by anyone having reading ability in modern Irish,
does not appear in any document that is older than several centuries. As
such, if the people in Middle Age Ireland in all likelihood didn't speak
modern Irish. They spoke middle Irish, the language from which modern
Irish developed, burt which is sufficently different from modern Irish
to be mostly unintelligable to a speaker of modern Irish.
> I don't believe there is any documented evidence for the
> spontaneous generation of any language within the last two or
> three millennia.
No one is speaking about a spontaneous generation of a language, but we
are speaking of the historical development of languages. Languages
change in time, as has Irish. After some amount of time has passed,
someone having learnt the language spoken at the beginning of that
period will no longer be able to understand someone who has learnt the
language spoken at the end of that period. This period, in which a
language changes sufficently to become unintelligable is, usually,
several centuries, but definitly less than a millenium. In the case of
Old Irish, we can, very generalising, speak of 500 year steps: for about
the last 500 years, people were speaking modern Irish, for the 500 years
before that, they were speaking middle Irish, for the 500 years before
Old Irish and even before that, Ancient or Ogham-Irish. Of course,
modern Irish developed from Ogham Irish via Old and Middle Irish, but
this doesn't mean that the words were pronounced identical or even very
similar in all those languages, only that most words in modern Irish can
be derived from Ancient Irish words by application of consistent
patterns of change, and most grammatical rules found in modern Irish
have their roots in Old Irish as well. As such, modern Irish of course
did not spring into being from nothingness, but nonetheless, it was
pronounced different from how modern Irish is pronounced.
Of course, this is only in all likelihood, and of course there exists a
certain possibility that everyone spoke modern Irish 2000 years ago,
only no one bothered to record that during the first 1500 years of the
history of that language but rather created an artificial writing style
that not at all does reflect the pronouncation of the words. But this
likelihood again tends asymptotically towards zwero.
> > which developed out of earlier forms which were considerably
> Diverse, do you mean? I'm studying that diversity.
No, I mean different, not diverse. Words were written and pronounced
differently in older forms of the language than they are today.
> > was spoken in the same way as it is today more than 1500 years ago.
> No. I have only said that the evidence, and the perusal of cognates
> selected according to my method, which differs from those of some other
> scholars, offers a reasonable basis for my hypothesis.
No, you were not. What yoz said was they were speaking plain Irish, and
this is exactly how you arrive at your results. You don't look if what
you arrive at are similar to the oldest attested Irish, you look if they
are similar to modern Irish. Old Irish is, however, considerably
different than modern Irish, as such, explanations based on modern Irish
are worthless, as they ignore the historical dimension of the recorded
and documented development of the Irish language in the last 1500 years.
Thus, your method can ONLY offer a reasonable basis for any hypothesis,
if the words you are "analysing" were spoken by modern Irish. However,
as it can be documented that, in all likelihood, noone spoke modern
Irish 2000 years ago, your method can IN NO WAY offer a reasonable basis
for hypotheses. Simply said, your theory is non-sense, i.e. it makes no
sense, is not reasonable.
> I was being flippant when I said they were speaking plain Irish.
No, you were not. This very statement is the one that, if it would be
true, would give your theory at least a chance of being a possible
explanation of the evidence. If people did not speak plain Irish 2000
years ago, your theory has no chance at all of provinding a viable
explanation for 2000 year old terms. And, as can be documented by the
evidence, people didn't speak modern Irish 2000 years ago, not even 1000
years ago, in all likelyhood. Thus, your theory, from its very
beginning, is bound to fail.
> But I do think they may have been speaking a language of which
> forms were spoken in Ireland and have contributed significantly
> to the C-celtic content of Modern Irish, and that that contribution
> includes some vocabulary that Boudicca/Boadicea would have used
Well, if you want to call this language spoken by Boudica Brythonic, or
P-Celtic, then we agree. Anyway, you can't explain her name the way you
did, unless you can document that the elements you used to explain her
name actually can be traced back to this language, and were unchanged
since. You can't, while the application of the consistent patterns used
by historical linguistics to her name explain her name pretty well, and
lead directly to an Irish cognate buadach, meaning victorious, a term
that not only fits a lot better as the name of a Queen than "many
bards", doesn't require a complete misunderstanding by the Romans who,
under this explanation, no longer need to have taken the name of a
people for that of it's leaderess, and fit well into the general Celtic
attractor for naming. All in all, the explanation offered by traditional
linguistics is fitting the evidence better, is not a individual case
explanation, fits into the general patterns recorded by historical
linguistics and on its own makes more sense than your explanation.
> > You simply ignore the historical dimension,
> No, but I think I detect distortive factors in the historical models
> that render them less useful than they might be.
You have no idea of the historical models, and, as already explained
above, you do ignore the historical dimension.
> > even though I have repeatedly told you that this is kicking the
> > evidence right into its face.
> The evidence upon which a theory is based is not proof of a theory
> based upon it.
But even though evidence can never be used to prove a theory, a theory
can be brought down when being in conflict with the evidence. This is
called FALSIFICATION in modern scholarly discourse and is, in fact, a
rare thing in the humanities. Your theory is conflicting with the
evidence, however, and thus can be considered to be falsified, or, in a
more common term, wrong.
> > This is the problem - you assume this and that, but don't test it, and
> > simply lack knowledge about everything you are talking about.
> That's not true. I test carefully according to my own hypothesis.
But you do not test it against the available evidence that could show
your theory to be not viable. You don't try to find out that your theory
might be wrong, and where you might have made errors, but insist on it
being justified even when you are told what errors you have been making,
even when you are pointed at the evidence that refutes your theory, and
even when it is shown to you that your theory cannot work out because
you ignore such factors as the historical development of the language.
Whenever this is done, you retreat to the argument "this is no proof
that my theory is wrong", thereby implying that if we are not able to
prove your theory wrong, it is a valid. Now, you yourself, as someone
claiming to be a postmodernist, should know that there never can be
proof of anything, but that this still doesn't tell that every theory is
right, but only that one can never stop testing one's theory against the
evidence. If you don't, I herewith ask you to prove that I am really
writing to you, and that I am not only a figment of your imagination,
and prove to me that I am not a disguised Alien from a planet called
> > It is not shameful to create a wrong theory due to lack of evidence and
> > personal knowlegde, but it is shameful, in the face of better evidence
> > and better knowledge, to keep with crackpot theories, simply to keep
> > ones pet theory alive, even though it is documentably nonsense.
> I would consider it so too, but that is not what I'm doing.
You are doing exactly that. Several people on this list, including me,
have pointed you numerously to severe flaws in your logic, to evidence
that allows to document that the explanations you come up with are
incredibly unlikely, and literature supporting this, both original
sources and secondary works. You have not responded in any other way
than to summarily dismiss the original evidence and the secondary
literature as irrelevant, as it might be wrong. You have failed to
provide any positive evidence supporting your theory, have failed to
quote any literature and have failed to show any consistent logical
patterns that you apply.
> > When Cath undergoes eclipsis it becomes gCath pronounced Gath.
> Which is attested in what examples? Where is that documented? Don't tell
> me that there is no material available for that, as this is something
> that should be found in innumerous cases in Irish manuscripts from the
> last 1000 years, which do exist, as I've already said. Now, where is
> this shift documented?
> You place too little store on common sense.
Your common sense may not be my or anyone else's common sense, and as is
evident from the responses to all your mails so far, your common sense
seems neither to be common nor to be sensible.
Even more, this clearly shows that you don't bother about any evidence
at all, but simply want to keep your theory alive, if necessary IN SPITE
of the evidence.
> Documentary evidence is wonderful if you can get it, but there is
> pitiful little in Ancient History of any culture, and you do know
> that the Romans purged all the institutions of the Celts, burnt
> their books, burnt or tortured or exiled and anathematised their
> scholars and continued to do so through the ubiquitous and
> intensely inquisitorial Roman Catholic Church when it came into
This statement is vastly generalising, oversimplifying a very complex
process and is, as such, not a valid description. And as such, NO, I
don't know anything of what you say, unless you document it
specifically. Where do you have this information from? Who writes this?
Why should I believe the above?
In fact, this again shows what you think of evidence: evidence is
something that gets into the way of your theory, so instead of changing
your theory, you dismiss the evidence. After all, it can't be your
theory which is wrong, it has to be the evidence. And to this purpose,
you again summarily dismiss the available source material, without
giving any (in-depth) consideration to its specific value to the matter
you allegedly are researching.
What you say above is, in fact, that we should not care about what is in
the evidence, but rather should apply an unidentifyable common sense,
which you seem to have, but noone else. In other words, you ask us to
believe your authoritative statement rather than the evidence, to
believe in a fantasy you make up because the evidence may be wrong, but
you can't be, as all you say is logical, reasonable, good and true.
> So yes, there is this significant dearth of critical evidence.
Says who? Is written where? Is attested by what? Again, you are
summarily dismissing the evidence and trying to replace it with an
authoritative statement. You are, again, asking us to take your word for
it, instead of documenting anything.
> There was a well-documented period of the persecution and
> anathematisation of the Druids, and later a purging of heresy,
> including much distinctively Celtic thought, from the Church. To
> ignore it would be to ignore the simple fact of historical
> development of language. That the Catholic Church would cherish
> Celtic manuscripts that might shed light on Pre-Roman Celtic
> culture is unlikely. There absence proves nothing.
Says who? Is written where? Is attested by what? Quote me some sources
for that, and show me that you have read them and understood the
complexity involved in the processes leading to the sources that are
available to us, and the problems in using them. McCone or Carney, for
instance. Oh, I forgot, you never heard of McCone or Carney, I'm sorry.
Again, authoritative statements are no substitute for knowlegde of the
> You know that in the modern Irish phrase 'to the Cath' Cath would undergo
> eclipsis : 'ag an gCath' is how it would be spelt. Gath is roughly how it
> would be pronounced.
But modern Irish is irrelevant for our discussion. The question must be,
would, in the earliest attested Irish, Cath be written like that at all,
and undergo eclipsis, and would that make any sense at all in the
context of the other available evidence from that period.
> There is evidence, and indeed it is reasonable to suppose that the
> rules governing eclipsis were diverse among the diverse parent
> languages of modern Ireland,
Says who? Is written where? Is attested by what?
> and that therefore the rules
> governing it in the language of those who chose the name Catholic
> for the church and Goidelic for the newly conquered Gauls would
No one ever called the newly conquered Gauls Goidelic. Again, this shows
your ignorance of the original evidence as well as the scholarship on
ancient Gaul. Again, you clearly show that you have no idea what you are
Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses!
> Again, where is this documented? This should also be recorded in the
> manuscripts. Cite me some attestations of this in the available
> evidence? You won't be able to, as there isn't any such recorded
> We have no written records of the development of the Irish language during
> the first millennium after the Roman Expansion.
Wrong. We have writtens records in the Irish language from the 4th
century AD onwards, which is clearly less that a millenium after the
Roman Expansion. From then on, we can trace the development if the Irish
language. Learn the basics, instead of talking rubbish.
> Languages develop local variations in the pronunciations of words,
> and these may become quite wide before they register in the written
> language. In England and Irelend there is a considerable variation
> between the so called short a (forward) and the long which I here
> represent as /a as the Irish would.
Again, a presentism based on your experience with a
government-sanctioned and publicly taught system of how to correctly
spell words in languages, a practice that didn't exist before the
installation of government-sactioned "official orthography" in the 19th
century AD. Before that, people wrote like they spoke, as can clearly be
documented in manuscripts from the Early medieval period up until the
installation of public schools and a general orthography. See the
literature on the development of government-sponsored orthography on
this. Again, you are theorizing based on ignorance rather than actual
knowledge about the evidence.
> > There is, however, innumerable evidence that shows the
> > indigenous Irish use of the term, of course not in its anglicised
> > variant Goidelic, but in the native Irish forms OIr. góidel, and
> > still exists in its modern Irish form Gael, paralleled in Scottish
> > Gŕedheal.
> I'm not sure that we know who the indigenous Irish were.
Well, the Irish who were writing in an Irish language from the 4th
century AD onwards. You may call them differently, but again, the
documented evidence clearly shows that the term Góidel appears in this
language from the earliest extant texts onwards. As such, this statement
is smokescreen tactics, and yet another attempt to summarily dismiss the
evidence. This is the only clear pattern that can be deduced from your
mails as far: you substitute dismissal of evidence for knowledge. This
only shows that actually, you have no idea what you are talking about.
In fact, by doing so, you claim that you are not required to know
anything about the evidence because according to your authoritative
statements, it's worthless anyway. This is very bad practice.
> Ireland was full of refugees and retreating Gaulish troops from
Says who? Is written where? Is attested by what? Again, generalising
statement without any practical knowledge of the evidence, and without
any interest in serious in-depth analysis of the evidence. Again, an
authoritative statement, we again are expected to takle your word on
> and Irish has surely arisen from their diversity of both Brythonic
> and Goidelic (still the best way to distinguish them in my view)
Says who? Is written where? Is attested by what? Again, authoritative
statement without any basis in the evidence!
> The evidence may show that Goidel exists, but it doesn't come from
> any texts of the first part of the first millennium since Rome,
> because there aren't any.
Says who? Is written where? Is attested by what? Again, authoritative
statement without any basis in the evidence!
> And it's existence in modern Irish tells us nothing about where it
> came from, so to deny it is just as much a matter of conjecture as
> my hypothesis is.
Or, in other words, after having summarily dismissed all evidence as
either useless or inexistent, all of this based on authoritative
statements rather than any knowledge of the actual evidence, you end
with a final authoritative statement, which tells us that even though
you neither have produced any specific arguments that either dismisses
specific evidence as useless, nor produced any evidence that supports
your theory, you say that your theory is as good as any, as we don't
While I might take this as an attempt at deconstruction, although not a
very successful one, it has no relevancy for any academic study of the
Irish language, or anything else we have had in this discussion, at all.
> I'm hypothesising that this so called native 'g/oidel' is back-formed
> from gC/ath Eolach (which may also have existed as gC/ath Eolas - It
> would be extremely unlikely not to have had a variety of forms.)
Which, however, is clearly hypothesising in spite of evidence that
disproves, that falsifies your hypothesis.
> In modern Irish, medial consonant clusters which are pronounced,
> albeit vaguely, in Munster, for example, are often silent in Galway.
> If these two variants existed in the days when Irish literacy began
> to recover under the supervision of the church, the silent cluster
> would not even be spelt. So what have you proved?
I am not attempring to prove anything. I am speaking about documented
cases of the use of the terms involved, I am talking about consistent
pattern of interpretation, and not single instance applications, I am
talking about scholarship and not wild romantic fantasies that are not
supported by any available evidence, but only by your authoritative
statements. You are asking us to take your word that you have come up
with something of relevancy for Celtic Studies, while I am asking you to
document that relevancy by comparing it to the evidence. You fail, and
in fact fail miserably, because you have no idea about what the evidence
looks like at all, you don't even know what evidence exists and to what
time and area which evidence belongs. As I have already repeatedly said,
you do not even present us with a valuable opinion, as valuable opinions
should be based on reasonable argumentation based on evidence, not on
ignorance and summary dismissal of the existing evidence.
> > It can hardly be a problem to see the derivation of Goidel-ic
> > from OIr. góidel+ic-suffix (the language belonging to the
> > Goidels), as is one way to build a term showing that something
> > belongs to something esle in English, as also evident in
> > Brython+ic (belonging to the ancient Britons)
> Yes, that's also possible, but unlikely.
No, it is highly likely, while your explanation is impossible. The high
likelyhood of my above explanation is documented by a large number of
attested cases of English word-formation with +ic for languages, backed
up by a similar pattern in German word-formation, and the explained
reasoning in the works of those who first used the term in the English
language as attested.
> You haven't put a dent in my hypothesis that it comes from the
> Goidelic title Cath and a word ancestral to and similar to the
> Modern Irish Eolach.
I've put more than a dent in your hypothesis, I have in fact sent it
crumbling into absolute nothingness. You, of course, can still uphold it
as your opinion, but as a scholarly hypothesis, it has gone the way of
> > This is this plainly evident that your theory becomes not only
> > ridiculous, but in fact obvious stupidity!
> This is opinion, and not scholarly.
Again, you are playing the "this is only opinion" game on me. We have
gone through that already but, again, I uphold that this is not "but an
opinion", as you indicate, but that it is my scholarly opinion deduced
from the available evidence in Celtic Studies on the one, and the
contents of your mails on the other hand. You of course can ignore
reality, if you wish, and continue to believe that you have something
valuable to say, but in fact, I have clearly demonstrated that all you
do is produce some pseudo-postmodern huffing and puffing and then ask
for the acceptance of your authoritative statements.
> > Plain and stupid nonsense. There is no evidence at all for this, and
> > even though this is funny speculation, it simply can't be confirmed,
> > while a derivation from OIr. gňidel can be very well documented.
> Any derivation from documents written centuries after these events is
This derivation need not be confirmed from documents written down
centuries after the events, but can be found in the original texts in
which the term Goidelic is first attested, which is in the 19th century
AD. These texts still exist, and even explain the rationale as to how
those who first used this term came to coin it. This is primary
evidence, not conjectures in secondary literature, and it was the
writing of that texts that was the event that coined the term. Your
argument is void!
> > Because it is Old Irish. Go look at the DIL, not at the OED, for
> > sources. To explain it to you, DIL is the Dictionary of the Irish
> > Language, published by the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The
> > attestation in OED of course is not the first attestation in Irish, but
> > the first attestation in English, where a 1882 date is not surprising,
> > as this is the time when the early modern antiquarians developed the use
> > of the term Goidel and Goidelic in their english writings as referring
> > to the ancient Irish people and their language.
> When does the DIL's earliest record of it date from?
Get yourself a copy and look for yourself.
> You have given no conclusive evidence of anything that damages my
I have, plenty in fact. Insisting on that I haven't doesn't make it
better, it is just another attempt to ignore the weight of the evidence.
You also can start a poll and ask if anyone on this list believes that
yor hypothesis has been crushed conclusively or not.
> > > Goidelic, they say, is formed from it, just as, say, Icelandic is
> > > formed from Iceland. Does anyone know of an earlier instance of the
> > > occurence of the word Goidel?
> > Yes, everyone who has ever done even the minimal research into Old Irish
> > necessary to gain at least a basic understanding that can be expected of
> > any undergraduate in Celtic Studies.
> This is no answer to my fair question.
It, in fact, is. But ok, look into the various Egerton and Bodleian
> > The evidence for it is
> > overwhelming, there are thousand of attested instances, from the
> > earliest surviving manuscripts onwards, especially in those passages
> > dating to the 6th-8th century AD.
> Even that's too late. The Druids had been being persecuted for centuries by
> then, and their philosophies, religion and learning suppressed.
Again, summarily dismissing the evidence. I need not further comment on
> > What they say in your OED is
> > absolutely correct, as everyone with even a minimal knowlegde of
> > linguistics perfectly well knows.
> I don't think anyone imagines it to be infallible.
No one says that the OED is infallible. Nonetheless, in the specific
case, what they say in the OED can be backed up by, literally, millions
> It only represents scholarly opinion, much conditioned by the
> constraints of orthodoxy, which can seriously hamper scholarship.
Again, pseudo-postmodernist argumentation. Now, you play they "oh they
opress all other opinion" game, in this case to summarily discredit what
has been said. Of course, you have not bothered to investigate the
specific case, and thus, this statement is about as valuable as if I
tell you that my left shoe is black. It is meaningless for anything else
but discussion technique, to cast doubt on oppposing views. That, in
fact, the OED in the specific case in question can show that the -ic
ending is the regular form of builing a specific class of words in
modern english, and that it's "only scholarly opinion" opinion is
directly backed by the original sources in which the term goidelic was
coined, might go down behind your smokescreen, at least that's what you
hope. But general quasi-theoretical statements that "everything is
nothing but opinion" still changes nothing that opinions differ in
explanatory value, and that in the specific case the explanatory value
of the OED theory about the origin of the term Goidelic amounts to
> Most innovative thinkers are unhappy with such 'authorities' and
> post-modernism questions them deeply.
Nonsense. The whole issue has nothing to do with postmodernism, only
with your ignorance again. Postmodernism is, as we have already said, no
excuse for sloppy research and lack of knowledge. And in case of the
OED, the explanation of Goidelic has neither anything to do with
orthodoxy, nor with authority, but simply with overwhelming attestation
in the evidence. It is the "evidence" that you are unhappy with, but
this is not the problem of postmodernism, but only that of your sloppy
> > Quite on the contrary, your equation is neither obvious, nor does it
> > work better than what the OED says, but simply is nonsense without ANY
> > relationship to any documented evidence and reality.
> That's your opinion.
Yes, that is my opinion, but again, a scholarly opinion based on
knowledge, and not one based on ignorance like yours.
> > > Your lack of knowledge about what you are talking about is
> > > rather annoying,
> > I'm not talking wildly beyond my knowledge, or conjecturing beyond the
> > bounds of reason.
You are, and this is evident in every mail you write. As I said earlier,
quote me some of the original sources, some of the secondary literature.
You won't be able to, I bet.
> > This is attested where, except in your fantasy world?
> The process is clearly observable in both Ireland and the Middle
> East. But of course, Rome has not confessed to it. It's success
> depended on its demoralising effect on the people, and that was
> greater if they were thoroughly confused about everything. But
> I'll try and track down the reference. It's a few months since I
> read it. I thought it was common knowledge.
In fact, there is a lot alleged common knowledge out there, but if
looked at in detail, one soon finds out that such vast and
over-generalizing statements as you constantly tend to make are never an
accurate description of any reality. Broad-brush paintings like those
you have produced as yet never have been correct, and the same applies
for your above statement. There is a lot of literature on Roman
conquests and the changes it brought in the newly acquired provinces out
there. You may have read one book about it, and from what you say above,
it did not treat it in much detail.
> > > I'd better stop here and see if anyone's still with me.
> > No, dear Vyvyan, no one is still with you.
> You are.
No, I'm not. I am simply answering your mails because they cannot be
left unchallenged, as they are too much nonsense to take without any
All the best,
Mag.phil. Raimund KARL
Österreich: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Lektor für kulturwissenschaftliche Keltologie
Univ.Wien, Inst.f.Alte Geschichte, A-1010 Wien, Dr. Karl Lueger Ring 1
United Kingdom: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Research fellow (European Archaeology)
Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd, Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru,
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3HH; ffôn: (+44 781) 6464861
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