Elements of Gaelic Grammar Part 40

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"----nihil illi _tendere_ contra; Sed _celerare_ fugam in sylvas, et _fidere_ nocti.'--_aeneid. IX. 378._

"Tarquinius _fateri_ amorem, _orare_, _miscere_ precibus minas, _versare_ in omnes partes muliebrem animum."--_Liv. I. 58._

"Neque post id locorum Jugurthae dies aut nox ulla quieta fuere: neque loco, neque mortali cuiquam, aut tempori satis _credere_; cives, hostes, juxta _metuere_; _circ.u.mspectare_ omnia, et omni strepitu _pavescere_; alio atque alio loco, saepe contra decus regium, noctu _requiescere_; interdum somno excitus, arreptis armis, tumultum _facere_; ita formidine quasi vecordia _exagitari_."--_Sall. Bell. Jugur. 72._

[72] "An ceannard a mharbhadh" may be considered as the nominative to the verb chaidh; and so in similar phrases; much in the same way as we find in Latin, an Infinitive with an accusative before it, become the nominative to a verb; as "_hominem_ hominis incommodo suum _augere_ commodum _est_ contra naturam." _Cic. de. Offic._ III. 5. "Turpe _est eos_ qui bene nati sunt turpiter _vivere_."

[73] So in Hebrew, the article prefixed to the nouns _day_, _night_, imports the present day or night. See Exod. xiv. 13.

[74] Perhaps the proper Prep. in these phrases is _de_, not _do_--see the Prepositions in the next Chap.--as we find the same Prep. similarly applied in other languages; de nuit _by night_, John iii. 2; de nocte, Hor. Epis.

1. 2, 32; de tertia vigilia, Caes. B. G.

[75] These expressions are affirmed, not without reason, to refer to the supposed destruction of the world by fire, or by water; events which were considered as immeasurably remote. (See Smith's "Gal. Antiq." pp. 59. 60).

Another explanation has been given of dilinn, as being compounded of dith, _want, failure_, and linn _an age_; qu. _absumptio saeculi_.

[76] Perhaps am fan, from fan or fanadh _a descent_. (See Lhuyd's "Arch.

Brit." t.i.t. x. _in loco_.)

[77] _i.e._ anns an teach, anns an tigh, _in the house_. So in Hebrew, [Hebrew: MBYT] _within_, Gen. vi. 14.

[78] Deas, applied to the hand, signifies the _right hand_. So in Hebrew, [Hebrew: YMYN] signifies the _right hand_ and the _South_.

[79] Iar, as a Preposition, signifies _after_ or _behind_. In like manner in Hebrew, [Hebrew: ATR] signifies _after_, or the _West_.

[80] Probably co luath _equally quick, with equal pace_.

[81] The probable a.n.a.lysis of seadh is, is e, _it is_, p.r.o.nounced in one syllable, 's e. When this syllable was used as a responsive, and not followed by any other word; the voice, resting on the final sound, formed a faint articulation. This was represented in writing by the gentle aspirate _dh_; and so the word came to be written as we find it. In like manner ni h-eadh is probably nothing else than a subst.i.tute for ni he, _it is not_.

[82] This mode of incorporating the Prepositions with the personal p.r.o.nouns will remind the Orientalist of the p.r.o.nominal Affixes, common in Hebrew and other Eastern languages. The close resemblance between the Gaelic and many of the Asiatic tongues, in this particular, is of itself an almost conclusive proof that the Gaelic bears a much closer affinity to the parent stock than any other living European language.

[83] "In corroboration of this (Mr. S.'s) hypothesis, I have frequently met _de_ in old MSS. I have therefore adopted it in its proper place."--E.

O'C.'s "Grammar of the Irish Gaelic." Dublin, 1808.

[84] In many places, this Prep. is p.r.o.nounced hun.

[85] Tar eis, on the track or footstep. See O'Brien's "Ir. Dict." _voc._ eis.

[86] On consulting O'Brien's "Ir. Dict." we find son translated _profit, advantage_, c.u.m _a fight, combat_, reir _will, desire_. From these significations the common meaning of air son, do chum, do reir, may perhaps be derived without much violence.

[87] See Gaelic Poems published by Doctor Smith, pp. 8, 9, 178, 291.

[88] There is in Gaelic a Noun cion or cionn, signifying _cause_; which occurs in the expressions a chionn gu _because that_, cion-fath _a reason_ or _ground_. But this word is entirely different from ceann _end_ or _top_.

[89] Some confusion has been introduced into the Grammar of the Latin language, by imposing different grammatical names on words, according to the connection in which they stood, while they retained their form and their signification unchanged; as in calling _quod_ at one time a Relative p.r.o.noun, at another time a Conjunction; _post_ in one situation a Preposition, in another, an Adverb. An expedient was thought requisite for distinguishing, in such instances, the one part of speech from the other.

Accordingly an accent, or some such mark, was, in writing or printing, placed over the last vowel of the word, when employed in what was reckoned its secondary use; while, in its primary use, it was written without any distinguishing mark. So the conjunction _qud_ was distinguished from the relative _quod_; and the adverb _post_ from the preposition _pst_. The distinction was erroneous; but the expedient employed to mark it was, at least, harmless. The word was left unaltered and undisguised; and thus succeeding grammarians had it the more in their power to prove that the relative _quod_ and the conjunction _qud_ are, and have ever been, in reality, one and the same part of speech. It would have been justly thought a bold and unwarrantable step, had the older grammarians gone so far as to alter the letters of the word, in order to mark a distinction of their own creation.

[90] From this use of the preposition _air_ arises the _equivoque_ so humorously turned against Mr James Macpherson by Maccodrum the poet, as related in the Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland on the authenticity of Osian's Poems, Append. p. 95. Macpherson asked Maccodrum, "Am bheil dad agad air an Fheinn?" literally, "Have you anything on the Fingalians?" intending to inquire whether the latter had any poems in his possession _on_ the subject of the Fingalian history and exploits.

The expression partakes much more of the English than of the Gaelic idiom.

Indeed, it can hardly be understood in Gaelic, in the sense that the querist intended. Maccodrum, catching up the expression in its true Gaelic acceptation, answered, with affected surprise, "Bheil dad agam air an Fheinn? Ma bha dad riamh agam orra, is fad o chaill mi na cirichean."

"Have I any claim on the Fingalians? If ever I had, it is long since I lost my voucher."

[91] This use of the preposition _ann_ in conjunction with a possessive p.r.o.noun, is nearly akin to that of the Hebrew [Hebrew: l], [for] in such expressions as these: 'He hath made me [for] a father to Pharaoh, and [for]

lord of all his house;' _rinn e mi 'n am athair do Pharaoh, agus 'n am thighearn os ceann a thighe uile_, Gen. xlv. 8. 'Thou hast taken the wife of Uriah to be [for] thy wife;' _ghabh thu bean Uriah gu bi 'n a mnaoi dhuit fein._ 2 Sam. xii. 10.

[92] This syllable a.s.sumes various forms. Before a broad vowel or consonant _an_, as, anshocair; before a small vowel or consonant _ain_, as, aineolach _ignorant_, aindeoin _unwillingness_; before a l.a.b.i.al _am_ or _aim_, as, aimbeartach _poor_; sometimes with the _m_ aspirated, as, aimhleas _detriment_, _ruin_, aimh-leathan _narrow_.

[93] The conjunction ged loses the _d_ when written before an adjective or a personal p.r.o.noun; as, ge binn do ghuth, _though your voice be sweet_; ge h-ard Jehovah, Psal. cx.x.xviii. 6.

The translators of the Scriptures appear to have erred in supposing ge to be the entire Conjunction, and that _d_ is the verbal particle do. This has led them to write ge d' or ge do in situations in which do alters the sense from what was intended, or is totally inadmissible. Ge do ghluais mi, Deut.

xxix. 19, is given as the translation of _though I walk_, i.e. _though I shall walk_, but in reality it signifies _though I did walk_, for do ghluais is past tense. It ought to be ged ghluais mi. So also ge do ghleidh thu mi, Judg. xiii. 16, _though you detain me_, ought rather to be ged ghleidh thu mi. Ge do ghlaodhas iad rium, Jer. xi. 11, _though they cry to me_, is not agreeable to the Gaelic idiom. It ought rather to be ged ghlaodh iad rium, as in Hosea, xi. 7. Ge do dh' fheudainnse muinghin bhi agam, Phil. iii. 4, _though I might have confidence_. Here the verbal particle is doubled unnecessarily, and surely not according to cla.s.sical precision. Let it be written ged dh' fheudainnse, and the phrase is correct. Ge do 's eigin domh am bas fhulang, Mark xiv. 31, _though I must suffer death_: ge do tha aireamh chloinn Israel, &c., Rom. ix. 27, _though the number of the children of Israel be_, &c. The present tenses is and tha never take the do before them. Ged is eigin, ged tha, is liable to no objection. At other times, when the do appeared indisputably out of place, the _d_ has been dismissed altogether, contrary to usual mode of p.r.o.nunciation; as, ge nach eil, Acts xvii. 27, 2 Cor. xii. 11, where the common p.r.o.nunciation requires ged nach eil. So, ge d' nach duin' an t-aodach, &c. ge d' nach biodh ann ach an righ &c. (McIntosh's "Gael Prov."

pp. 35, 36), where the _d_ is retained even before nach, because such is the constant way of p.r.o.nouncing the phrase.

These faulty expressions which, without intending to derogate from the high regard due to such respectable authorities, I have thus freely ventured to point out, seemed to have proceeded from mistaking the const.i.tuent letters of the conjunction in question. It would appear that _d_ was originally a radical letter of the word; that through time it came, like many other consonants, to be aspirated; and by degrees became, in some situations, quiescent. In Irish it is written giodh. This manner of writing the word is adopted by the translator of Baxter's "Call." One of its compounds is always written gidheadh. In these, the _d_ is preserved, though in its aspirated state. In Scotland it is still p.r.o.nounced, in most situations, ged, without aspirating the _d_ at all. These circ.u.mstances put together seem to prove the final _d_ is a radical const.i.tuent letter of this Conjunction.

I have the satisfaction to say that the very accurate Author of the Gaelic Translation of the Scriptures has, with great candour, acknowledged the justice of the criticism contained in the foregoing note. It is judged expedient to retain it in this edition of the Grammar, lest the authority of that excellent Translation might perpetuate a form of speech which is confessed to be faulty.

[94] To avoid, as far as may be, the too frequent use of _a_ by itself, perhaps it would be better always to write the article full, an or am; and to apply the above rules, about the elision of its letters, only to regulate the p.r.o.nunciation. Irish books, and our earlier Scottish publications, have the article written almost always full, in situations where, according to the latest mode of Orthography, it is mutilated.

[95] The practice of suppressing the sound of an initial consonant in certain situations, and supplying its place by another of a softer sound, is carried to a much greater extent in the Irish dialect. It is termed _eclipsis_ by the Irish grammarians, and is an evidence of a nice attention to _euphonia_.

[96] The Dat. case is always preceded by a Preposition, ris a' bhard, do 'n bhard, aig na bardaibh; in declining a Noun with the article, any _Proper Preposition_ may be supplied before the Dative case.

[97] So in English, _Grandfather_, _Highlands_, _sometimes_; in Latin, _Respublica_, _Decemviri_; in Italian, _Primavera_; in French, _Bonheur_, _Malheur_, &c. from being an adjective and a noun, came to be considered as a single complex term, or a compound word, and to be written accordingly.

A close a.n.a.logy may be traced between the Gaelic and the French in the collocation of the Adjective. In both languages, the Adjective is ordinarily placed after its Noun. If it be placed before its Noun, it is by a kind of poetical inversion; dorchadas tiugh, _des tenebres epaisses_; by inversion, tiugh dhorchadas, _d' epaisses tenebres_; fear mr, _un homme grand_; by inversion, in a metaphorical sense, mr fhear, _un grand homme_.

A Numeral Adjective, in both languages, is placed before its Noun; as also iomadh, _plusieurs_; except when joined to a proper name, where the Cardinal is used for the Ordinal; Seumas a Ceithir, _Jaques Quatre_.

[98] The same seems to be the case in the Cornish Language. See Lhuyd's "Arch. Brit." p. 243, col. 3.

When an Adjective precedes its Noun, it undergoes no change of termination; as, thig an Tighearn a nuas le ard iolaich, _the Lord will descend with a great shout_, 1 Thes. iv. 16; mar ghuth mor shluaigh, _as the voice of a great mult.i.tude_, Rev. xix. 6.

[99] Thus, bhur inntinn _your mind_, Acts xv. 24.

[100] This, however, does not happen invariably. Where the _s.e.x_, though specified, is overlooked as of small importance, the Personal or Possessive p.r.o.nouns follow the _Gender_ of the Antecedent. See 2 Sam. xii. 3.

[101] I am aware of the singularity of a.s.serting the grammatical propriety of such expressions as ciod e Uchdmhacachd? ciod e Urnuigh? as, the nouns uchdmhacachd, urnuigh are known to be of the feminine Gender; and as this a.s.sertion stands opposed to the respectable authority of the Editor of the a.s.sembly's Catechism in Gaelic, Edin. 1792, where we read, Ciod i urnuigh?

&c. The following defence of it is offered to the attentive reader.

In every question the words which convey the interrogation must refer to some higher genus or species than the words which express the subject of the query. It is in the choice of the speaker to make that reference to any genus or species he pleases. If I ask 'Who was Alexander?' the Interrogative _who_ refers to the species _man_, of which _Alexander_, the subject of the query, is understood to have been an individual. The question is equivalent to 'What man was Alexander?' If I ask 'What is Man?'

the Interrogative _what_ refers to the genus of Existence or Being, of which Man is considered as a subordinate genus or species. The question is the same with 'What Being is Man?' I may also ask 'What was Alexander?'

Here the Interrogative _what_ refers to some genus or species of which Alexander is conceived to have been an individual, though the particular genus intended by the querist is left to be gathered from the tenor of the preceding discourse. It would be improper, however, to say 'Who is man?' as the Interrogative refers to no higher genus than that expressed by the word _Man_. It is the same as if one should ask 'What man is Man?'

In the question 'What is Prayer?' the object of the querist is to learn the meaning of the term _Prayer_. The Interrogative _what_ refers to the genus of Existence, as in the question 'What is Man?' not to the word _Prayer_, which is the subject of the query. It is equivalent to 'What is [that thing which is named] Prayer?' In those languages where a variety of gender is prevalent, this reference of the Interrogative is more conspicuously marked. A Latin writer would say '_Quid_ est Oratio*?' A Frenchman, 'Qu'

est-ce que la Priere?' These questions, in a complete form, would run thus; 'Quid est [id quod dicitur] Oratio?' 'Qu' est-ce que [l'on appelle] la Priere?' On the same principle, and in the same sense, a Gaelic writer must say, 'Ciod e urnuigh?' the Interrogative Ciod e referring not to urnuigh but to some higher genus. The expression, when completed, is 'Ciod e [sin de 'n goirear] urnuigh?'

Is there then no case in which the Interrogative may follow the gender of the subject? If the subject of the query be expressed, as it often is, by _a general term, limited in its signification_ by a noun, adjective, relative clause, &c; the reference of the Interrogative is often, though not always not necessarily, made to _that term_ in its general acceptation, and consequently be 'What is the Lord's Prayer?' Here the subject of the query is not _Prayer_, but an individual of that species, denoted by the term _prayer_ limited in its signification by another noun. The Interrogative _what_ may refer, as in the former examples, to the genus of Existence; or it may refer to the species _Prayer_, of which the subject of the query is an individual. That is, I may be understood to ask either 'What is that _thing_ which is called the Lord's Prayer?' or 'What is that _prayer_ which is called the Lord's Prayer?' A Latin writer would say, in the former sense, 'Quid est Oratio Dominica+?' in the latter sense, 'Quaenam est Oratio Dominica?' The former of these expressions is resolvable into 'Quid est [id quod dicitur] Oratio Dominica?' the latter into 'Quaenam [oratio] est Oratio Dominica?' The same diversity of expression would be used in French: 'Qu' est-ce que l'Oraison Dominicale?'

and 'Quelle est l'Oraison Dominicale?' The former resolvable into 'Qu'

est-ce que [l'on appelle] l'Oraison Dominicale? the latter into 'Quelle [oraison] est l'Oraison Dominicale? So also in Gaelic, 'Ciod e Urnuigh an Tighearna?' equivalent to 'Ciod e [sin de'n goirear] Urnuigh an Tighearna?'

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