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PostPosted: Wed 06 Mar 2024 2:30 am 
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Recently I have been thinking that the spelling and orthography reforms might have had a rather negative effect on text that make intuiting the rules of the language a lot harder than it should be. Namely by removing some of the letters and stuffing "h" in everywhere. The older system using the punc clearly indicated a transformation of a sound rather than an additional sound occurring in the word.

(Note the second text is one where I removed the "h" myself so it might not be a correct. Please feel free to correct me. :) )

Bhí fear in a chomhnuidhe ar an bhaile s'againne
a dtugadh siad Micheál Ruadh air. Bhí teach
beag cheann-tuigheadh aige ar fhód an bhealaigh
mhóir agus bhí an donas air le séideadh anuas agus
le deora anuas.

Ḃí fear in a ċoṁnuiḋe ar an ḃaile s'againne
a dtugaḋ siad Miċeál Ruaḋ air. Ḃí teaċ
beag ċeann-tuiġeaḋ aige ar ḟód an ḃealaiġ
ṁóir agus ḃí an donas air le séideaḋ anuas agus
le deora anuas.

I think the second text illustrates the sound changes better than the first. It also allows your eyes to focus on the parts of the words where the vowels are.

One day I tried reading a Gaelic text in the older scripts with little dots and such. To my surprise it worked better and it felt a lot easier to read, especially aloud. I found that grasping consonant mutation as an English speaker was greatly eased through this. I supposed that using original dotted letters and the seanchló would benefit learners. It might also help to enforce the fact that Irish is a separate language with it's own sounds and rules.

How do you feel about the seanchló and the orthography's effect on reading and learning, particularly in regards the "h" for lenition and such?

If there are any native speakers around, do you ever read any of the older literature in Gaelic? What do you think about the writing systems?


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PostPosted: Wed 06 Mar 2024 2:45 am 
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Bungus mac wrote:
Recently I have been thinking that the spelling and orthography reforms might have had a rather negative effect on text that make intuiting the rules of the language a lot harder than it should be. Namely by removing some of the letters and stuffing "h" in everywhere. The older system using the punc clearly indicated a transformation of a sound rather than an additional sound occurring in the word.

...

How do you feel about the seanchló and the orthography's effect on reading and learning, particularly in regards the "h" for lenition and such?

If there are any native speakers around, do you ever read any of the older literature in Gaelic? What do you think about the writing systems?


I personally prefer the sean-chló, and the use of the punctum to denote lenition in all cases.

I'm going to be pedantic, though, and point out that the punctum is actually the more recent development. In some of the earliest Old Irish manuscripts, like the one which contains the Würzburg glosses, the punctum is actually used to mark nasalisation, but apparently never lenition. Only in later Old Irish manuscripts did the punctum start to be used to denote lenition, but even then, it was only used with s and f. Conversely, the use of h to denote lenition of c, p and t can be found in the earliest Old Irish sources.


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PostPosted: Fri 15 Mar 2024 9:13 pm 
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Ade wrote:
Bungus mac wrote:
Recently I have been thinking that the spelling and orthography reforms might have had a rather negative effect on text that make intuiting the rules of the language a lot harder than it should be. Namely by removing some of the letters and stuffing "h" in everywhere. The older system using the punc clearly indicated a transformation of a sound rather than an additional sound occurring in the word.

...

How do you feel about the seanchló and the orthography's effect on reading and learning, particularly in regards the "h" for lenition and such?

If there are any native speakers around, do you ever read any of the older literature in Gaelic? What do you think about the writing systems?


I personally prefer the sean-chló, and the use of the punctum to denote lenition in all cases.

I'm going to be pedantic, though, and point out that the punctum is actually the more recent development. In some of the earliest Old Irish manuscripts, like the one which contains the Würzburg glosses, the punctum is actually used to mark nasalisation, but apparently never lenition. Only in later Old Irish manuscripts did the punctum start to be used to denote lenition, but even then, it was only used with s and f. Conversely, the use of h to denote lenition of c, p and t can be found in the earliest Old Irish sources.


Do you know at what point the ponc séimhithe had completely replaced the letter h for indicating lenition? I had previously imagined that this had happened by the beginning of the Early Modern Irish period. However some time ago, I came across an online copy of a 16th (or maybe 17th) century printed page (I can't remember what it was now). What I found curious was that both the letter h and the ponc séimhithe seemed to be being used randomly i.e. interchangeably to indicate lenition, even for the same letters.


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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar 2024 1:34 am 
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Caoilte wrote:
Do you know at what point the ponc séimhithe had completely replaced the letter h for indicating lenition? I had previously imagined that this had happened by the beginning of the Early Modern Irish period. However some time ago, I came across an online copy of a 16th (or maybe 17th) century printed page (I can't remember what it was now). What I found curious was that both the letter h and the ponc séimhithe seemed to be being used randomly i.e. interchangeably to indicate lenition, even for the same letters.


The ponc séimhithe never completely replaced use of the letter h to indicate lenition.

Originally, as I mentioned, the use of a dot to represent lenition was applied only to lenite s and f. Before this point in insular script a dot above a letter (the punctum delens, i.e. "deletion point") was used to indicate a letter which was accidentally written and should be erased, like crossing out a letter. It is very telling that its first usage to signify lenition is with the two letters which, when lenited, are pretty much "deleted" phonetically. By contrast letters which, from an even earlier age, were lenited using a h (i.e. c, p, and t) are phonologically altered but do not cease to be pronounced in the same way as s and f. As such, the two means of indicating lenition originally seem to have had specific use cases. The punctum delens signified that the sound of s or f was "deleted", while the use of h signified an unvoiced consonant pronounced in a more breathy manner.

One of earliest surviving sources which show the use of the punctum delens to lenite s and f is from the late Old Irish period, the St. Gall glosses. This same manuscript also attests a further development in lenition. The spiritus asper (a small letter, h, written above a letter) began being used with c, p, and t. This was doubtless borrowed from Greek through Latin to signify "rough breathing", and the ability of the letter h to signify this is likely why it was used in large form in Irish from the earliest sources also. It's worth noting, however, that at this stage there was still a clear distinction. The punctum delens was used to lenite only s and f, while both large h and the spiritus asper were only used with c, p, and t.

Thurneysen seems to suggest that this distinction was maintained in Middle Irish manuscripts (A Grammar of Old Irish, p. 21), however, the placement of the spiritus asper above a letter meant it could be easily confused with a punctum delens. This is particularly true when it is not written very carefully or clearly, such that there would be little visual distinction between this diacritic and a dot. Eventually the spiritus asper seems to have fallen together with the punctum delens, likely at some point during the Early Modern Irish period, assuming my reading of Thurneysen is correct here.

As you have noticed, by or during the Early Modern Irish period the punctum delens seems to have spread so that it could be used with all lenited letters, likely originating from conflation with the spiritus asper. At about the same time the use of h spread also, such that the choice of which form of lenition to use could come down to an individual scribe, or even the space available on the manuscript folio. I believe it was only by the time the printing press spread around Europe that a new convention emerged. Printers who did not have access to Cló Gaelach characters would have been forced to represent lenition using the h in all instances. At the same time, printers who used the Cló Gaelach typeface moved towards using only the ponc séimhithe.

By the time of the Gaelic revival movement this was the status quo for lenition. Because the Cló Gaelach was perceived as more authentically Gaelic than Roman typeface, at least according to this 1997 article, a lot of material from the early 1900s on was printed using it, hence, the ponc séimhithe is common in publications from this era. At the same time, character encodings for telegraphy were beginning to be standardised, however, this was initially based on English, and other widely spoken European languages. By the time the ASCII standard was first published in 1963 it could only support English, and by 1965 the ECMA-6 standard could support accent marks and some other diacritics for major European languages, but there was no support for the ponc séimhithe. As such, for Irish to be sent in telegraphs, or represented digitally at all, all lenition had to be represented using a h. I don't believe this changed until the Unicode standard was first published in 1988, at the earliest. Obviously, during the 20th century, it became more cost effective to use computers and digital text than typewriters for publishing, and I suspect this was the major contributing factor in the decision to codify the use of h as the official standard means of representing lenition in Irish text during this timeframe.

The ponc séimhithe never completely replaced use of the letter h to indicate lenition, though it came to be the preferred method during the Gaelic revival movement. This preference seems likely to have been fuelled by the prevailing nationalist sentiment of the time, alongside the misguided notion that the ponc séimhithe is somehow "older" or "more Irish" than the use of h. As it turns out, both are very well established throughout the long history of Irish orthography. I find that my own preference for the ponc séimhithe is primarily rooted in a sense that it would be a shame for this very legitimate form of lenition to be sacrificed on the altar of an obsolete telegraphy standard, though, perhaps the better argument for its usage hasn't changed since the Middle Irish period; it significantly reduces the amount of space Irish words take up on the page.


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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar 2024 2:01 am 
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Ade wrote:
The ponc séimhithe never completely replaced use of the letter h to indicate lenition.

This is simply untrue, and is refuted by:
Ade wrote:
At the same time, printers who used the Cló Gaelach typeface moved towards using only the ponc séimhithe. By the time of the Gaelic revival movement this was the status quo for lenition.

All this stuff about the Middle Ages is irrelevant. Éamonn Ó Cuiv once justified the use of Cuív instead of Caoimh by an irrelevant reference to a 12th century manuscript showing the name was Kymh - literally irrelevant. English spelling isn't determined by the 12th century manuscripts.
Ade wrote:
This preference seems likely to have been fuelled by the prevailing nationalist sentiment of the time, alongside the misguided notion that the ponc séimhithe is somehow "older" or "more Irish" than the use of h.

No, it is irrelevant what the back-history was. The Gaelic Revival had a standard of its own, and An Gúm bullied native speakers into dropping the seana-chlódh. They literally told writers in the Gaeltacht that unless they provided copy typed in Gael-chlódh, they would put it in the Clódh Rómhánach regardless of what the native speakers wanted. Learners of Irish, L2 speakers in An Gúm, lording it over the Gaeltacht speakers.
Ade wrote:
As it turns out, both are very well established throughout the long history of Irish orthography.

No, you have already shown that in the Gaelic Revival period, this was not the case. The statement is false and if made in a PhD viva voce, your thesis defence would be rejected.

These comments are agenda-driven, and designed to justify the standardisation of Irish by L2 speakers in Dublin.

I will not read the ensuing 25 pages of discussion by someone with an agenda... knock yourself out.


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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar 2024 3:29 am 
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djwebb2021 wrote:
Ade wrote:
The ponc séimhithe never completely replaced use of the letter h to indicate lenition.

This is simply untrue, and is refuted by:
Ade wrote:
At the same time, printers who used the Cló Gaelach typeface moved towards using only the ponc séimhithe. By the time of the Gaelic revival movement this was the status quo for lenition.

All this stuff about the Middle Ages is irrelevant. Éamonn Ó Cuiv once justified the use of Cuív instead of Caoimh by an irrelevant reference to a 12th century manuscript showing the name was Kymh - literally irrelevant. English spelling isn't determined by the 12th century manuscripts.
Ade wrote:
This preference seems likely to have been fuelled by the prevailing nationalist sentiment of the time, alongside the misguided notion that the ponc séimhithe is somehow "older" or "more Irish" than the use of h.

No, it is irrelevant what the back-history was. The Gaelic Revival had a standard of its own, and An Gúm bullied native speakers into dropping the seana-chlódh. They literally told writers in the Gaeltacht that unless they provided copy typed in Gael-chlódh, they would put it in the Clódh Rómhánach regardless of what the native speakers wanted. Learners of Irish, L2 speakers in An Gúm, lording it over the Gaeltacht speakers.
Ade wrote:
As it turns out, both are very well established throughout the long history of Irish orthography.

No, you have already shown that in the Gaelic Revival period, this was not the case. The statement is false and if made in a PhD viva voce, your thesis defence would be rejected.

These comments are agenda-driven, and designed to justify the standardisation of Irish by L2 speakers in Dublin.

I will not read the ensuing 25 pages of discussion by someone with an agenda... knock yourself out.


I've no idea what part of what I said that you're taking issue with this time, dj. I have to assume your belief is that, if Peadar Ua Laoghaire's preference was to use the punctum, then the use of h must have been entirely extinct. That's demonstrably untrue.

If you've a problem with that statement, take it up with Anders Ahlqvist, someone whose authority on the subject is far more credible than your own opinions on it:

Quote:
"Mar a chonacthas thuas, scríobhtar agus cuirtear h i gcló as Gaeilge mar atá sí á scríobh agus á cur i gcló sa lá atá inniu ann, ach sna lámhscríbhinní agus i gcuid mhaith de na foinsí a cuireadh i gcló go dtí le déanaí sa "Chló Gaelach" bhaintí úsáid as ponc an scriosta mar chomhartha don séimhiú in áit h." Stair na Gaeilge, p. 39.


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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar 2024 10:04 pm 
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Ade, thanks for the detailed history!


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PostPosted: Sat 16 Mar 2024 10:07 pm 
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:S
djwebb2021 wrote:
These comments are agenda-driven, and designed to justify the standardisation of Irish by L2 speakers in Dublin.

I will not read the ensuing 25 pages of discussion by someone with an agenda... knock yourself out.


???


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PostPosted: Sun 17 Mar 2024 12:18 am 
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Caoilte wrote:
Ade, thanks for the detailed history!


I hope it was helpful. :good:


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PostPosted: Mon 18 Mar 2024 12:34 am 
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I'm afraid I'm confused. This quote provided seems to suggest that the "h" was a more recent development.
I will say also that looking at many Gaelic revival texts from the time. The punc seems to be universal in those works.

Quote:
Mar a chonacthas thuas, scríobhtar agus cuirtear h i gcló as Gaeilge mar atá sí á scríobh agus á cur i gcló sa lá atá inniu ann, ach sna lámhscríbhinní agus i gcuid mhaith de na foinsí a cuireadh i gcló go dtí le déanaí sa "Chló Gaelach" bhaintí úsáid as ponc an scriosta mar chomhartha don séimhiú in áit h." Stair na Gaeilge, p. 39.


It now seems to me that the "h" fell out of use during the Gaelic revival and then was brought back later. This incidentally made many words longer. Those words were then chopped down by spelling reforms later.


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