On 7 Aug 2011 at 9:16, lenore fischer wrote:
> I could perhaps just mention that of all the papers I attended, our own N.
> McL's bore the bell away for public speaking: an excitingly intriguing
> message, delivered at the easy pace of someone long accustomed to lecturing,
> and with such droll humour as to keep everyone thoroughly entertained and
> eager to hear more. No danger of falling asleep there.
I entirely agree with Lenore, and I would like to add my own memories
about Neil's lecturing. I remember that the first lecture by Neil
that I heard was several years ago at the Tionól about - no surprise -
the legal implications of some OIr. tale (The Saga of Fergus mac
Léite, if I am not mistaken). By that time I thought that the topic
of the legal background of narratives was about as boring as a topic
could get. But then Neil entered the stage, and it was just
incredible. I still think that that particular lecture was the best
that I ever heard, because of all the qualities that Lenore already
mentioned. I remember that everyone in the audience just went "Oh my
God, how come that guy is so good!". So, the bottom line is: whenever
you have the opportunity of hearing a lecture by Neil, don't miss it.
Alright, I will now tell you a bit about interesting OIr. papers that
I attended (and note that I did not go to every OIr. paper):
The first one was a very good start, Daan van Loon (Utrecht), "The
Usage of the Present Tense in OIr. Prose: Is this the End?". He
talked about the use of the present tense in historical narrative and
demonstrated absolutely conclusively (the numbers were really
unambiguous) that this was not a stilistic device to add vividness to
the tale, but that the distribution of presents and preterites served
a text-grammatical function. Presents are used when the verbal action
is still ungoing when the verbal action of the next sentence takes
place, whereas the preterite signals the end of the verbal action
before the next one takes place.
Aaron Griffith (Vienna), "The Decline of the OIr. Deponent": Aaron
argued on the basis of the glosses that deponent verbs that were
derived from nominal stems were earlier inclined to switch over to
active inflection than those that were "true" primary verbs.
Chie Nakamura (Tenri, a former student of Maynooth) spoke about "The
Use of the Neuter in Lebor na hUidre and Gender Loss in Irish". She
used statistics to show this. The bottom line was that she thought
that neuters had become unproductive in OIr. and that that
contributed to the death of the category.
Bernhard Bauer (Vienna) presented the project he is working on, "A
Dictionary of the OIr. Priscian Glosses", mainly the St Gall one.
This dictionary will conclude the triad of gloss dictionaries.
Jean Rittmüller (Memphis), "Construe Marks, Suspension Marks, and an
Embedded OIr. Gloss in a Hiberno-Latin Homily on the Ocatve Easter".
Despite the grandiose title, the problem was a rather small one, an
alleged (and certainly quite problematic) OIr. gloss in an otherwise
Latin text. I didn't think (and daid so in the discussion) that this
was an OIr. gloss at all, but perhaps rather disjointed scribbling
that had been wrongly put together.
Jürgen Uhlich (TCD), "The Metrical Structure of Téicht do Róim":
Despite its metrical title, it was rather concerned with the
suprasegmental phonology of OIr. Jürgen argued that in sequences of
monosyllabic noun followed by di- (or poly-)syllabic genitive, the
first noun could have been destressed in OIr. This would allow to
solve certain metrical problems in non-syllabic poetry. His starting
point was the poem alluded to in the title, and acc. to this idea the
famous expressions "mór saítho" and "becc torbai" would both count as
In my own "On the Early Histories of OIr. no- and to-", I didn't
actually speak about no-, but because of time restraints I limited
myself to to-. Starting from Peter Schrijver's suggestion that that
preverb actually went back to *tu-, not *to- as everybody else
thought, I examined the evidential value of Early OIr. texts for the
representation of rounded vowels in pretonic preverbs. My conclusion
was that already in the 7th century those vowels had to all extents
and purposes merged or beecome entirely confused, and that the
spellings of those vowels in those texts did not tell us anything
about their etymology.
Dagmar Haunold (Maynooth/Vienna), "The Transmission of Esnad Tide
Buchet" was the only literary paper that I attended, the reason for
this being that Dagmar is my PhD student. She presented her on-going
doctoral work on this tale whose title she argued convincingly to be
"Esnad Tige Buchet", not the "Esnada Tige Buchet" that everybody is
Cormac Anderson (Poznań), "Consonant Quality in OIr. Revisited" tried
to vindicate the case of a three-series system of consonant quality
on typological and functional grounds.
Art Hughes (UU Belfast) "The "Prototonic Pull": The Death Knell of
Old Irish". I didn't actually get the point of this one, apart from
the fact that he seemed to argue that the verbal system was to
complicate to function, which is stating the obvious.
Dmitry Nikolayev and Maria Shkapa (Moscow), "Absolute and Conjunct
Old Irish: A Survey of Typological Parallel" tried to find exactly
said in the title. I am not sure...