Early Irish saga texts have a tendency to switch between past and present at
will, like oral storytelling tends to. Modern translators tend to "correct"
that, rationalising it as a "historic present" and translating it as past,
but I don't think it is at all. I've noticed in Recension 1 of the Táin, for
example, that in the boyhood deeds section the use of present-tense verbs
increases dramatically - the characters are telling stories, and their
stories are written in a very oral style, which I think shows considerable
sophistication on the part of the writer.
As far as verbs are concerned, I'd strongly second the recommendation of
Anthony Green's "Old Irish Verbs and Vocabulary", which gives verb-by-verb
rather than tense-by-tense paradigms for most of the commonest verbs.
Another very useful resource is A. G. Van Hamel's "Compert Con Culainn and
Other Stories", the glossary of which includes inflected forms of a number
of common verbs, which redirect you to the "dictionary" form.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven Sams" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2008 4:57 PM
Subject: Re: [OLD-IRISH-L] Aided Cheit maic Mágach - 9a
Are most of the stories we've been translated written in a sort of
historical present? If so, then when I am trying to figure out the verbs, is
it a safe bet to be thinking of the present tense to start?