The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Who converted Ireland?

Ostler p. 131 thinks that it was the Welsh who converted Ireland to Christianity. This because Irish sacramental terms tend to voice the stops, as linguists put it; a "trinitas" becomes "trindod". Irish does not naturally force that change. But Welsh is not the only language that does this. It has also happened to Latin - at least to one dialect thereof, of which Texans and southwest Americans are very aware. I'd also bring into evidence that Irish "Trinity" is not literal "trindod" but "trindoid", suggesting metathesis from *trinidod.

I refer to Castilian Spanish, where we do see names like "Trinidad". On one thing Ostler and I agree: this particular shift cannot have been driven by the Phoenicians or Arabs, who knew enough to distinguish T from D (leaving aside the "emphatics"). I'll get to other possible shifts later.

At first Spain was under the Greek zone of influence. The Punics got to them, and then preclassical Latin held sway. But under new Latin management, the Greek trade-routes stayed the same. Which means the Spanish and the Irish still had contact.

So I'd not be so quick to assume that it was the Welsh (like Patrick) who came to Ireland first. Even Ostler (p. 129) knows that southern Ireland was Christian already. By tradition its first bishop was Palladius - Ostler asks: why establish an episcopacy before there is anyone there to oversee? And here's what I'd ask: exactly who's best getting to Ireland by its southern shore?

Perhaps it was vulgar-Latins from Spain who came to Ireland first, already speaking archaic Spanish. Maybe those Spanish sailors had also held to the Canaanite-shift from a>o...?

posted by Zimri on 09:28 | link | 0 comments

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