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Subject: Re: Araile anchore: dating, fronting
From: Dennis King <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 9 Apr 2012 17:28:21 -0700
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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  
particular hermit.

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.

Dennis

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