Marion Gunn wrote:
> On no evidence whatsoever, I'd be inclined to regard "Araile" as a
> sort of filler ...
Not exactly. "Araile" has a lexical meaning, which makes
straightforward sense in context. At the same time it functions as a
formula, not as mere filler.
Thurneysen says this (GOI §486) about the meaning of 'alaile / araile':
"[I]t also means 'some, certain' (quideam, aliqui), and in this sense
is common as an adjective."
> Araile anchore roboí hi cluain maco nois...
In our sentence, "araile anchore" means "a certain hermit", and as a
formula it means that we're beginning a story and that it's about this
If this is a fronted sentence, and I don't see any reason on the face
of it why it should not be, what we have literally is:
(is) a certain hermit (that) was in Clonmacnoise...
In more colloquial storytelling English, this would be:
There was once a hermit in Clonmacnoise...
Without the formula, the initial sentence would be a flat statement:
Roboí anchore hi cluain maco nois...
= A hermit was in Clonmacnoise...
But then the "Once upon a time..." anouncement is lost.
Dating note: Thurneysen cites examples of "alaile" as an adjective,
although not as the first word of a sentence, from the mid-9th-century
St. Gall Glosses. This adjectival use is apparently not to seen a
hundred years earlier in the Würzburg Glosses.