Liz Gabay wrote:
> Rofert a mith chuine min glic
> gani chairi formait
> coro luig Tadg Mac Cen cend bric
> slan cell do chinid Cormac.
In line (d) you have expanded 'm/c' as '-mac'. But the requirements of
rhyme and consonance, and the reading in Lec both suggest '-maic'. The
general rule with contractions is that they stand for both the palatal
and non-palatal grouping, as is required. (So, for example, '3' can mean
both '-us' and '-uis'.)
> Rofheart a mith chuine min glic
> canith chuiri formuit.
> coro luig Tadc Mac Cein ceind bric
> slan ceill do chuin Cormaic.
Nicely done Liz. I made three mistakes that I only discovered when I
compared my transcription to yours.
Next we need to adjust the word division. It is interesting how gaps
seem to open up in the middle of words in these MSS, as if the scribe
was transcribing mindlessly or did not understand the text - but I say
'as if', because I do not think that was the case. I have noticed that
the scribe of Lec tends to run quiet a few words together, and not just
words that belong around a single stress, as discussed at GOI 24-25. So
we shouldn't expect scribes of this period to be quite so fixed in their
views about spacing between words as we might be. (A nice comparison
might be my own students' approach to paragraphing.)
The first step is easy: in this metre ('dechnad mór'), each line has to
end in a disyllable. So we need 'min-glic' (which is what both MSS
actually have) and 'ce(i)n-dbric' (despite the possible gap in Lec and
the sizeable one in BB).
The second step is to investigate any internal rhymes. My (limited)
experience in that these rhymes seem regularly to involve single words.
So if three syllables in line (a) rhyme with three syllables in line
(b), it is likely that both are disyllabic words:
> I could not make much sense out of the second line.
> BB gani chairi formait
> Lec canith chuiri formuit.
First off, I spot that 'gan' and 'can' are later forms of 'cen'. So I
hive those off.
Then, I note that Lec's 'ith chuiri' seems to rhyme with 'mith chuine'
in line (a), which makes me think that each represents a single word
(though that includes compounds). And when I look it up, I discover that
line (a)'s 'mithchuine' is indeed an appropriate word (see DIL under
It does not surprise me greatly that 'ithchuiri' in Lec might be
simplified as 'ichairi' in BB. (I know that BB's 'a' ought to be Lec's
'u' to make the rhyme.) Besides, Lec strikes me as pretty consistently
the better MS.
So that gives us 'ithchuiri'. But given that 'cen' causes lenition, we
might in fact be dealing with a word like *'fith-chuire'. (Lenited 'fh'
will not interfere with the alliteration.) I can't make any good sense
of *'fith-chuire', so it is time for step 3.
The third step is to try to translate what we have. Sometimes a
translation will emerge only if we shove a syllable this way or that.
And so we shove it. (When I first started off in Celtic Studies I did
not appreciate the effort that went into 'transcribing' texts, or why it
was referred to as 'editing'. After a while I began to appreciate that
an awful lot of translating goes into deciding where word divisions and
hyphens go, and what expansions exactly stand for.)
> The fourth line in BB has too many syllables (7) but I see two hair-strokes
> above the word 'chinid', so I thought it contained two ' i ' letters.
It does, but one must be a smudge or an error. Cf Lec:
> slan ceill do chuin Cormaic.
Even in BB, there is no way that the middle two minims are an 'n'. The
first minim of a letter ought to be proud and strong;. nice and straight
with a rampant serif. The first of these two minims looks like it has
been in the pub after a Celtic Congress.
Here is what I think we might have:
Ro-ferta mithchuine min-glic
gan [fh]i[ch?]-chairi formait
coro luig Tadg mac Cê[i]n cend-bric
slân cê[i]ll do chinid (sic) Cormaic
Ro-fearta mithchuine min-glic
can [fh]ith-chuiri formuit
coro luig Tadc mac Cêin ceind-bric
slân cêill do chuin Cormaic