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The Dates of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi

Abstract

In a previous issue of this journal, Natasha Sumner of Harvard claimed of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi that the “exact date of composition for the text is not known”; she yet quoted Professor Catherine McKenna, also of Harvard, for the tales as certainly predating the Fall of Gwynedd in 1282. A response to Professor Sumner’s comment thus has three functions. It cites publications on the question from 1897 to 2018; reveals the scholarly disagreement therein; but concludes with evidence to put the tales in the 1120s or early 1130s.

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The Origins of Tree Names in Celtic

Abstract

This paper deals with the long-debated question of the origins of tree names and the methodological problems related to PIE etymologies. It aims at putting forward some basic principles of etymology, and at applying these principles to the analysis of twelve tree names. It also seeks to demonstrate the relevance of substratic pre-IE languages’ influence on the lexicon, and at isolating geographic areas corresponding to pre-Indo-European lexical stocks lying behind modern Celtic languages.

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Review
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Shane Leslie and the Irish Support for Language Struggle in Poland

Abstract

This paper tells a little known story of the collecting and delivery of signatures of Irish school children from the northern part of Ireland as an act of moral support for Polish students on strike in defense of the Polish language at schools in the Prussian partition of Poland, in the first decade of the 20th century (Płygawko 1991). The bound signatures are in the Czartoryski Museum in Cracow, Poland, but the information about the action has not been found in Irish sources, and the Polish signatures collected in response seem to be missing. The role of the organizer of the initiative, Shane Leslie, is emphasized in this paper. It describes the background of this exchange of sympathy, and discusses possible reasons why the story remains obscure.

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What Happened to Primitive Cornish /I/ When Long in Closed Syllables?

Abstract

Of the four unrounded front vowels in Primitive Cornish, /i/, /ɛ/ and /a/ remained stable when long in closed syllables, but /ɪ/ had a tendency to fall together with /ɛ/. Jackson (1953) and Williams (1995) dated this change to the twelfth century, but the present research indicates that in most words, the change took place substantially later. An analysis of spellings and of rhymes show that not all words changed at the same time. Most stressed monosyllables in historical /-ɪz/ were pronounced [-ɪːz] in Middle Cornish and [-ɛːz] in Late Cornish. Those with historical /-ɪð/ and /-ɪθ/ were dimorphic in Middle Cornish (i.e. they were spelled with both <y~i> and <e>), showing the sound-change in progress during that time. The process of change from [ɪː] to [ɛː] was one of lexical diffusion. The implications for the revived language are briefly examined.

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Young Speakers: A Pilot Study of Gaelic Bilinguals’ Language Practices

Abstract

Studies of primary school pupils’ Gaelic to date have largely relied on criterion referenced tests to measure attainment against curricular expectations: with only NicLeòid’s (2015) work on student attitudes and Nance’s research (e.g. 2013 and 2015) on comparative phonology bucking this trend. There is a surprising lack of information or research about the language forms and bilingual repertoire of young speakers. A better understanding of young people’s language practices requires the Gaelic research community to develop datasets from spontaneous interactions. This paper draws on a pilot study with a primary 5-6 school cohort in Gaelic-medium education. Using a combination of audio and audio-visual data from the classroom together with data on young speakers’ language attitudes, this paper examines pupils’ determination and strategies to maintain the classroom language as Gaelic. The results of this pilot study can inform the development of new methodologies for collaborative research with the school community on children’s linguistic development and attainment. Such research, it is argued, is necessary in light of the dependency of the Gaelic language planning model on the primary school for the production of new Gaelic speakers.

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Irish and Polish in a New Context of Diversity in Northern Ireland’s Schools

Abstract

While Modern Languages are in decline generally in the United Kingdom’s post-primary schools, including in Northern Ireland (Speak to the Future 2014), the international focus on primary languages has reawakened interest in the curricular area, even after the ending in 2015 of the Northern Ireland Primary Modern Languages Programme which promoted Spanish, Irish and Polish in primary schools. This paper will consider the situation in policy and practice of Modern Languages education, and Irish in particular, in Northern Ireland’s schools. During the years of economic growth in the 1990s Ireland, North and South, changed from being a country of net emigration to be an attractive country to immigrants, only to revert to large-scale emigration with the post-2008 economic downturn. While schools in Great Britain have had a long experience of receiving pupils from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, firstly from the British Empire and Commonwealth countries, Northern Ireland did not attract many such pupils due to its weaker economic condition and the conflict of the Northern Ireland Troubles. The influx from Poland and other Accession Countries following the expansion of the European Union in 2004 led to a sudden, significant increase in non-English speaking Newcomer pupils (DENI 2017). The discussion in Northern Ireland about a diverse democracy has hitherto concentrated on the historical religious and political divide, where Unionist antipathy led to the Irish Language being dubbed the ‘Green Litmus Test’ of Community Relations (Cultural Traditions Group 1994). Nevertheless, the increasing diversity can hopefully ‘have a leavening effect on a society that has long been frozen in its “two traditions” divide’ (OFMDFM 2005a: 10). This paper will revisit the role and potential of Irish within the curricular areas of Cultural Heritage and Citizenship. An argument will also be made for the importance of language awareness, interculturalism and transferable language learning skills in Northern Ireland’s expanded linguistic environment with a particular focus on Polish.

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Gender, the Nigerian Civil War and Hard Choices: Nihilism or Absurdism (?) in Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty

Abstract

This paper entitled “Gender, the Nigerian Civil War and Hard Choices: Nihilism or Absurdism(?) in Isidore Okpewho’s The Last Duty” evinces an evaluative excursion into the author’s delineation of gender in war and its concomitants regarding actions, inactions, and the mindset of the actors and the acted-upon (victims) of the fratricidal Nigerian conflict within a designated theatre. We demonstrated that the quantum impact of the war engages some near-totally nihilistic imperatives of the war. Nevertheless, we surmised, at the final count, that the war results in high-wire tension rather than erode the indices for hope regarding the war victims and victimizers alike; and by dangerous extension, the Nigerian nation. Although we conceded the presence of dystopia which is life-threatening and socially destabilizing, our calculation in the final analysis, is that the tensions generated against both genders in the war are essentially absurdist, not nihilist. In this vein of analysis, we concluded that Okpewho’s delineation retains deliberately enough rays for reconstructive, rehabilitative, regenerative and cohesive engagements that will pave the way for societal survival and continuity.

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in CLEaR
Literature as a Political Tool: Whig Efforts to Prevent the Election of Martin Van Buren

Abstract

Starting with Andrew Jackson, presidential candidates in the United States used campaign biographies as useful political tools, and since 1824 no presidential election year has passed without a campaign biography. Martin Van Buren, President Jackson’s successor in the White House, became a target of a vicious campaign intended to prevent his election. His Whig opponents used a number of literary genres to slander him, including a mock campaign biography and a novel. The article focuses on the portrayal of Martin Van Buren in The Life of Martin Van Buren, allegedly written by Davy Crockett in 1835, and a novel named The Partisan Leader; A Tale of the Future, written by Nathaniel Beverley Tucker in 1836. Though being of different genres, these curious and obscure works have certain things in common - they were written under pseudonyms, their main goal was to prevent the election of Martin Van Buren and both of them failed in their goal.

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in CLEaR
The Real, Imaginary and Possible in Robert Coover’s Short Story “Stick Man” (2005)

Abstract

In the context of Baudrillard’s theory of simulacra, this paper analyzes Robert Coover’s depiction of different versions of “reality” as manifested in his short story “Stick Man”. The paper argues that through the depiction of transworld characters oscillating between different ontological levels and modes of representation, Coover

  1. treats the relation between fiction and reality,
  2. deals, in the context of some post-structuralist theories, with a question of representation connected especially with the relation between language and reality,
  3. parodies celebrity culture, mass media manipulation of the audience and consumerism as important aspects of contemporary (American) culture, and points out the replacement of the representation by “simulation” in the contemporary technologically advanced world.

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in CLEaR