this thread continues the discussion that began on 'Techt do Róim' where beith questioned some things i said.
I don't understand the sense of some of your sentences above...
that the genuine ancient language traces megli refers to as primitive irish, quite apart from hypothetical reconstructions, are actually ancestral to the language of texts called old irish, is not established and cannot be established - not by the most meticulous use of developed techniques.
I don't understand what you mean here - ?? Primitive Irish is absolutely attested as the precursor to Old Irish. There is no doubt, no uncertainty about that
They're not my "most strongly held notions" - they're academic facts and validated information from hundreds of years of scholarship not to mention a continuous lineage of language progression in this country, where Irish is still spoken.
and here's my response:
i’m talking about provable fact as distinct from firm belief.
to say that irish is spoken in parts of galway is provable fact. you can go there and listen. to say that primitive irish evolved directly into old irish is a concensus of the most highly respected scholarly opinion, the firm belief of highly respected scholars with the best credentials and of their students and admirers, but is not a fact.
that’s not a matter of opinion, that is to do with the definition of fact as distinct from belief, opinion, and conjecture. in my opinion, scholars have no business with belief, except off the record. it should never be a part of their teaching. they should be acutely conscious of and keep their students conscious of the gap between fact and high-likelihood, high probablity, however small it might be.
but in this issue, the gap is significant – other possibilities exist which are arguably more probable.
1. the ogham inscriptions are very brief and full of abbreviations, despite the ogam’s five vowels (even without the forfedha) they use no vowels, and there are often illegible portions in an inscription, so transliteration and expansions are often tentative – information derived from them is almost all phonological, not much grammar or vocabulary, and most vocabulary only personal and place names.
this is not enough information to identify the exact dialect spoken of many closely related and therefore similar dialects that must have been contemporary with it. of these perhaps only one made ogham inscriptions. it is quite possible that the ‘direct’ ancestor of old irish was not the dialect of the one which made the ogham inscriptions, but a related dialect.
2. many writers comment that between the irish of the ogham and old irish there was a lot of change in a very short period of time, and surely this is more sensibly interpretable as a change to a different dialect, rather than as a lot of sudden spontaneous changes within the one single dialect supposed to have been destined to become the old irish of the texts. the eclipsing of one dialect by another as a result of a change of government, a conquest or a migration is a common occurrence. the sudden mutation of large numbers of the features of a language in situ has probably never been observed.
then i said
and since selene's explanation of the use of inri on crucifixions is an iteration of church belief, and the origins of church belief are lost in the mists of antiquity, all anyone can say with accuracy - and surely punctilious accuracy is a hallmark of scholarship - is that it is believed by the church, indeed, is official church dogma, so the decided tone of megli's remark quoted above is inappropriate.
and beith replied:
sorry! this just perplexes me completely! what is it you are saying here?!
what don’t you understand about this, beith? i’m only saying that church dogma is not fact.
so basically, i’m saying that it’s unsound scholarship to talk of facts when all you’ve got is a consensus of opinion, no matter how competently it may have been arrived at.