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Subject: Re: also in Tochmarc Étaíne
From: Dennis King <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 28 Nov 2006 17:44:00 -0800
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Michele wrote:

> What I get out of this instruction is that Midir's bunch is to
> take the blind dogs and cats with them to different mounds and
> watch the animals' behavior. The hounds could additionally be
> given Etain's scent, so they could pinpoint exactly which mound
> she's in.

> Si non e vero, e ben trovato...

Certamente!  Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato.  :-)

>> Fír na cetnai & na n-irradh,’ ol Midir.

>> Truth of the first (one / ones) and of the leaders(?)

> First, have I got the sense right? "Your wife will be there
> at tierce tomorrow. And if I don't bring her, my men will
> bring her."

I somehow don't think it's quite that literal or specific.

> "I'm making the principle promise and I commit my my right-
> hand man, my left-hand man and my press secretary too." He's
> committing not just himself but his whole houshold to
> delivering on this promise.

If "irrad" is indeed "airrad/errad/aurrad/urrad" (and Early
Modern "urradh", Modern "urra" -- that single prefix has more
damned outfits to wear than you can shake a stick at!), that
is, "surety, guarantor", then Midir's asseveration does appear
to be invoking more than just his own word.  But I suspect
that "Fír na cétnai/ae 7 na n-airrad" may have already been
no more than a cliché in the speech of the time this tale was
composed.  Words like that are conventional, while getting
real guarantors was a legal procedure.  Today's equivalent
in English might be "I swear on a stack of Bibles!"

Dennis

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