The History of Celtic Scholarship in Russia and the Soviet Union
Mr Chairman, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me begin by thanking our distinguished Patron, Professor K.H. Schmidt, for agreeing to open this inaugural conference of Societas Celto-Slavica. We are greatly honoured by his presence here today and we thank him most sincerely for his excellent introduction and for his kind words regarding the formation of the Society.
I thought initially it would be possible in my lecture this morning to give a brief outline of the main works and achievements of Celtic scholarship in the Slavic countries, secure in the knowledge that it would not be necessary to discuss Celtic Studies in Poland as this subject would be dealt with by Professor Piotr Stalmaszczyk in a subsequent paper. However, having gathered together a significant amount of material on Celtic Studies in Russia, the Czech Republic and other Slavic countries, it became clear to me quite early on that I could not do my subject justice in the time available without narrowing the scope of my investigations. I decided therefore to confine myself primarily to Celtic Studies in Russia. This subject has been previously addressed to some degree by Russian Celtic scholars but has received much less attention from Celticists outside Russia.
Narrowing the scope of the topic means that you will not hear from me today about the work of the Irish college established in Prague in the seventeenth century, for example, or about Czech linguistic and archeological studies, which is represented at the Conference by Prof. Vaclav Blazek; neither will it be possible to discuss the important contributions of the talented and significant Celtic scholar, Josef Baudis, nor the work of the Irish Centre in Prague which offers courses in Irish and has published a bibliography of many works concerning Irish and Celtic scholarship. The history of Celtic scholarship in the Czech Republic and in other Slavic countries will, I hope, be addressed on another occasion.
1. The Slavs and the Celts
Of all the ethnic European peoples, the Slavs are the most numerous. They reside principally in Eastern Europe, but are also found in Asia. The Slavic languages are normally divided into three main groups, as follows: East Slavic (of which the major sub-groups are Russian, Ukrainian, and Bylorussian); West Slavic (including Lekhitic, that is, Polish and related divisions, Czech-Slovak, and Sorbian); and South Slavic (with two main divisions, namely, Bulgarian-Macedonian, and Serbo-Croatian-Slovene). While the eastern origin of Slavic is not in doubt, the assumption of an original Balto-Slavic unity still remains uncertain. As Professor Schmidt has pointed out in his address, the many correspondences between the languages may be due to a common IE inheritance or to shared forms which have resulted from having been in close proximity for an extended period of time. Moreover, the Baltic area at the beginning of the historical era was larger than it is today, much of it being later slavicized (Schmid 1976: 15). Several centuries before Christ, the proto-Slavic dialect area appears to be between the Rivers Oder and Vistula in Poland and the Dnepr in the Ukraine, north of the Carpathian Mountains. This proto-dialect area is in a kind of so-called intermediate zone. It includes the Illyrian, Thracian and Phrygian languages of the Balkans, and is bordered to the west by Germanic, Celtic and Italic, and to the east by Scythian and Tocharian.
As to some of the other surrounding languages, the Thracians were located in Thrace which was bordered on the north by the Danubian province of Moesia and to the south by Macedonia, Thrace and Moesia occupying the territory which roughly corresponds to modern Bulgaria. The Phrygians had come from Asia via the south Russian steppes and settled in the Balkans, in proximity to the Thracians and the Illyrians; and between c.700 BC and 200 BC, the Scythians had settled between the Dnepr and the river Don in present-day Ukraine. Then, in the historical period, there occurred the great migration of Slavs into Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, the Pannonian plain and, in the fourth century, into the Balkans, and northward along the upper Dnepr river and the Black Sea.
The Celts appear in central Europe along the upper Danube c.600 BC and spread thereafter to the west, east and south. In the middle of the first millenium, Celtic tribes settled along the upper Oder and a new period of Celto-Slavic contacts starts about the fourth century B.C. in the Carpathians and Silesia. Archaeological evidence, such as the Podkloshevy grave culture, shows clear Celtic influences. Germanic tribes, who occupied territory adjacent to and north of the Celts, settled on the lower Oder and Vistula. The Celts also spread into Bohemia, Pannonia, northern Italy and the Balkans. They founded, for example, at the mouth of the Save in Moesia, the town of Singidunum, known today as Belgrade. In 280 BC they invaded Macedonia and crossed thereafter into Asia, settling in Galatia. Hence, the Celts were in close contact with a number of peoples in this zone, including the Slavs.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 3-41.
Celtic Studies in Poland : Recent Themes and Developments
Any discussion of Celtic Studies should start with a clear delimitation of the field and scope of research pertaining to Celtology. For the purpose of the bibliography of Celtic Studies in Poland, cf. Stalmaszczyk (2004), I have assumed the following tentative definition:
Celtic Studies are concerned with the languages, literature, culture, mythology, religion, art, history, and archeology of historical and contemporary Celtic countries and traces of Celtic influences elsewhere. The historical Celtic countries include ancient Gaul, Galatia, Celtiberia, Britain and Ireland, whereas the modern Celtic territories are limited to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany. It has to be stressed that Celtic Studies are not identical with Irish (or Scottish, Welsh, or Breton) Studies, though they are, for obvious reasons, closely connected.
Though the definition is not without problems, it clearly demonstrates that the field of Celtic Studies (CS) is subdivided among a number of different academic disciplines (for some recent contributions to the debate on ‘Celticity’ and Celtic Studies, see Schmidt 1992, Evans 1997, the contributions in Hale & Payton, eds., 2000, and Tristram 2004). In this presentation I limit my attention to recent Polish research on Celtic languages and literatures, with only sporadic reference to more general publications (there are two reasons for this limitation: firstly, identifying CS on the basis of languages is most fundamental (and secure), cf. Tristram 2004. Secondly, and more personally, I am far better acquainted with research on Celtic languages and literatures than with other subdisciplines of CS. Unfortunately, there is – as yet – no overview of research within other fields of CS in Poland. For a list (admittedly incomplete) of Polish publications on Celtic ‘culture and history’, see Part Three of Stalmaszczyk 2004). First, though, it is necessary to mention some of the most important earlier achievements.
Though work devoted to various aspects of Celtic philology and history appeared in Poland already at the turn of the 20th century, it is Stefan Czarnowski who deserves to be called the forerunner of CS in Poland (cf. Rozwadowski 1897, devoted, in considerable part, to Old Irish etymologies and historical phonology; Parczewski 1902, on the Irish mission and the beginnings of Christianity in Poland, and Bieńkowski 1908, on Gaulish representation in Hellenic art). Stefan Czarnowski (1879–1937), the author of numerous studies on sociology, religion, history and theory of culture, also published several articles devoted to Celtic issues, especially literature and religion, and translations of specimens of Celtic literatures (for an overview, see Rosen-Przeworska 1961 and Sadowska 1988). His most important achievement in the field of Celtology was Le culte des héros et ses conditions sociales. Saint-Patrick, Héros national de l’Irlande (Paris 1919), an historical and sociological study of St. Patrick and mediaeval Ireland. In this study, Czarnowski followed closely the methodological assumptions worked out by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim. Le culte des héros et ses conditions sociales is concerned with the social background of hero worship in Ireland. Czarnowski studied the historical reality in the light of documents and the mythical history of Patrick as recorded in the current legends. Though published more than eighty years ago, this study has lost very little of its value and importance, and still deserves to be closely analysed. As observed by Sadowska (1988: 185):
[Czarnowski] was the first in Poland, and one of the first few in Europe, to have shown the scale of relationships between two apparently quite different cultures: Celtic heathenism and Christianity, by demonstrating the penetration of the consolidating Christian tradition by ancient elements which were becoming accommodated in it.
Unfortunately, today Le culte des héros et ses conditions sociales is not known well enough and as a result references to it are extremely rare.
Czarnowski also devoted some shorter studies and conference reports to religion and cult in ancient Gaul, cf. Czarnowski (1925a, 1925b, 1929, 1930a), he also wrote popular essays on Celtic literatures, cf. Czarnowski (1914, 1930b), discussed in section 3, below.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 43-59.
Russian and Western Celticists on Similarities between Early Irish and Early Indian Traditions
The present contribution will not deal specifically with comparative aspects of Celto-Slavic but rather with the contribution of Celtic scholars, in particular Russian Celtic scholars, to the study of similarities between early Irish and early Indian traditions of kingship.
1. Western Scholars on Celto-Indic correspondences
Attempts to compare the Old Irish and Sanskrit languages have their origins in the eighteenth century: “The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure… there is a … reason … for supposing that both the Gothick and the Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanscrit” (Sir William Jones’s address to the Asiatick Society (read on 2 February 1786), in Pachori 1993: 175). E. Windisch (1903) and W. Stokes (1893) were the first to note some literary parallels between the traditions, such as the epic in prose form, the preservation of archaic verbal forms in tmesis constructions, and other points. This approach was then developed by J. Vendryes (1915), who, referring to morphological and lexical features which Celtic shares with Sanskrit, inferred that the parallels observed indicate the archaic character of these languages.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the appearance of J. G. Frazer’s Golden Bough (Frazer 1890 and Frazer 1911-1915) fascinated scholars, particularly those in the field of religious studies. Dealing with the subject of the magical powers of kings, Frazer (1933: 262-263, see also 10, 89) observes:
The belief that kings possess magical or supernatural powers by virtue of which they can fertilise the earth and confer other benefits on their subjects would seem to have been shared by the ancestors of the Aryan races from India to Ireland.
With regard to the Indian and Irish data, he illustrated his thesis by examples from The Laws of Manu, and the early seventh-century Hiberno-Latin treatise entitled De duodecim abusiuis saeculi that he refers to as “a canon attributed to St. Patrick” (Frazer: 1933, 171). The main indicators of royal virtue which emerge from these sources are fine weather, calm seas, and abundance of crops.
Later, the French scholars G. Dumézil (1973), E. Benveniste (1973), and D. Dubuisson (1978a; 1978b) extended the parallels noted by Vendryes and Windisch to declare that with regard to the Indo-Iranian and Italo-Celtic societies "we are concerned with societies of the same archaic structure, of an extremely conservative nature where institutions and their vocabulary persisted long after they had been abolished elsewhere" (Benveniste 1973: 308).
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 217-38.
Celtic-Slavic Parallels in Mythology and Sacral Lexicon
1. Old Irish Dagdae < Celtic *dago-dēvio- 'good-god' ~ Slavic * Dažьbogъ
Old Irish Dagdae was the highest god of the Goidelic pantheon. His name reflects Celtic *dago-dēvio- which can be interpreted as “belonging to a good god”. This form indicates the existence of the Celtic compound *dago-dēvo- “good god”, which structurally corresponds to Old Indic Vásudeva- (AV), the father of Krsná-. The first component is well attested in both Insular and Continental Celtic languages: Old Irish dag “good” (.i. maith), frequently used in compounds, e.g. dag-duine “good man”; Welsh, Cornish, Breton da “good”, Old Welsh degion pl. “nobles” < *dagiones (Falileyev 2000: 42); cf. also Old Brythonic *dag- in the inscription from Bath ANDAGIN < acc. f. *ande-dagin “very good”. The component *dago- was very productive in formation of the Gaulish anthroponyms, e.g. Dagobitus (and Bitudaga), Dagodubnos, Dagomaros, Dagorix, Dagovassos, Dagissius, Dagillus. The Gaulish appellative is attested in the inscription from Sens: GENETA IMI DAGA UIMPI “girl am I good [and] beautiful” (LEIA 1996: D 7-8; Delamarre 2001: 112). In the Welsh tradition the semantically corresponding name can be identified in Math (Puhvel 1987: 178): Math uab Mathonwy oed arglwyd ar Wyned “Math, son of Mathonwy, in this time the ruler over Gwynedd”, known from the Fourth Branch of Mabinogi. His name has been connected with Welsh mad, pl. madyoet / madioedd “good”, Cornish mas, Middle Breton mat, Breton mad id.; Old Irish maith id. (Celtic *mati-) and further the u-stem in Celtiberian m.a.Tu.ś (Botorrita 1A, line 6) and Gaulish (Coligny) matu expressing the ‘right time’, cf. also the epithet Matuicos of Apollon (LEIA: M-12-13; de Bernardo Stempel 1999: 534-35, fn. 50).
According to Abajev (1971: 13) the Slavic correspondent of Celtic *Dago-dēvo- should be identified in Church Slavonic of Russian redaction Dažьbogъ, Old Russian also Daždьbogъ, Serbo-Croatian Dàžbog. It has usually been interpreted as the imperative “give! God” (ESSJ 4, 1977: 182-83).
The theonym Dažьbogъ is quoted in Vladimir’s pantheon in Nestor’s Chronicle (AD 980):
I nača knjažiti Volodimerъ vъ Kievě edinъ, i postavi kumiry na xolmu vně dvora teremnago: Peruna drevjana, a glavu ego srebrenu, a usъ zlatъ, i Xъrsa, Dažьboga, i Striboga i Simarьgla, i Mokošь.
The pair Xorsъ & Dažьbogъ occurs in later texts too: prišedъ vъ Kievъ izbi vsja idoly i Peruna, Xursa, Dažьboga i Mokošь ["Proložnoe žitje knjaza Vladimira"]. The same sequence of the theonyms Xorsъ & Dažьbogъ occurs in many other medieval Russian chronicles (Ivanov & Toporov 1983: 180-81) and the former could be an epithet of the latter. This conclusion agrees with the etymology of Xorsъ. The theonym Xorsъ can reflect an adaptation of the epithet *xwarza- “good” of some of Sarmatian deities, cf. Ossetic Digor xwarz, Iron xorz “good”. Russian xorošij “good” was borrowed from a close source, probably Alanic (Abaev 1989: 217-19).
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 75-85.
Russia, Cradle of the Gael
One of the points of overlap between Celts and Slavs is a matter of geography, although it is the geography of the imagination, not that of conventional history: certain of the Celtic peoples claimed to have originated in a region where certain of the Slavic peoples subsequently settled. This is the territory known as Scythia: a term which was used by many ancient writers as a general designation for the northernmost parts of the world, but which was more specifically applied to the lands north and northeast of the Black Sea, including what are now Russia and the Ukraine.
1. Medieval pseudohistorical tradition and Scythia
Although the notion of derivation from Scythia is, as we shall see, one of the constants of Gaelic pseudohistorical tradition, it appears to have played a relatively peripheral part in shaping Irish and Scottish conceptions of identity. The doctrine that the Gaels invaded Ireland from Spain probably arose as a result of cultural contacts between Ireland and Iberia in the seventh century; it went on to serve the interests of propaganda in the attempts to forge an Irish-Spanish alliance against England a thousand years later, and is not without its adherents even today (Van Hamel 1914-15: 173; Carey 2001. The latter article provoked one reader into writing a letter arguing on behalf of the historicity of a Gaelic migration from the Iberian peninsula). The belief that they had also come into contact with the Israelites, upon whose wanderings their own were largely modelled, enabled the Irish to claim that their pagan ancestors had had some knowledge of the Mosaic Law (Macalister 1938-56: i, xxvii-viii; followed e.g. by Scowcroft 1988: 20; and McCone 1990: 67). An alternative view that the Gaels were originally Greeks, often attested despite being at odds with the normative pseudohistorical model canonized in Lebor Gabala, also had an obvious motivation in that it linked Irish origins with the high culture of the ancient world (e.g. Jaski 2003). But what was to be gained from an association with the Scythians?
On the face of it, such references to Scythia as would have been available to a medieval Irish scholar would not have suggested that such an association was a flattering one. Thus a reader of Orosius’s Seven Books of History Against the Pagans would learn that Ninus taught the ancient Scythians to drink human blood; that the heinousness of an atrocity could best be evoked by saying that it would have been “loathsome... even to the remotest barbarians of Scythia”; that “the vast Scythian peoples” were “feared by all [our] ancestors, and even by Alexander the Great” ; and that the barbarian leader Radagaisus was “truly a Scythian, who in his ravenous cruelty loved not so much fame, or plunder, as carnage for the sake of carnage” (Libri septem historiae contra paganos i.4; v.4; vii.34, 37 = Migne 1844-64: xxxi, 700, 927, 1149, 1159).
For Isidore of Seville, Scythia was one of the remote refuges of the monstrous races, home to the Panotii with their enormous ears, and to the horse-footed Hippopods; “the land as a whole, on account of the barbarous peoples by whom it is inhabited, is called Barbarica” (Etymologiae XI.iii.19, 25; XIV.iv.3). Elsewhere, Isidore (XIV.iii.31-2) spoke of Scythia as containing
many peoples, who wander far and wide on account of the barrenness of the land. Some of them till the fields while others, monstrous and savage, subsist on human flesh and blood. Many regions in Scythia are prosperous, but many others are uninhabitable: for while they are, in many places, abundant in gold and gems, men can seldom come there because of the ferocity of the gryphons.
In such an account, it is the exotic and gruesome which stick in the mind: it is not surprising that Airbertach Mac Coise’s geographical poem, based extensively on Isidore, says of Scythia only that it contains “gryphons of valleys, guarding gold and pure gems” (Best et al. 1954-83: lines 16254-6. The story of gryphons guarding gold in the far north goes back at least as far as Herodotus iii.16; iv.13, 27).
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 149-61.
Cú Chulainn and Il’ya of Murom: Two Heroes, and Some Variations on a Theme
Cú Chulainn and Il’ya of Murom are certainly not the only exemplary heroes representing their two linguistic and cultural members of the wider Indo-European family - the Irish Celtic and the Russo-Slavic - and in some ways they are more different than similar in the details of their legends or heroic biographies. Il’ya’s generation and birth, for example, makes up a rather sparse and undramatic tale as compared to the famous triple-generation of Cú Chulainn, with its divine interaction and intervention, while there are no death-tales or songs attached to Il’ya’s epic biography (though the number of oral accounts and versions of his adventures is very large). In fact, Il’ya’s origin or parentage is specifically identified as peasant, and the only uncommon aspect of it is that his father and mother, Ivan Timofeevich and Efrosinia Yakovlevna, had already “lived fifty years” before a son was granted to them - but this could be an evidence of Biblical (OT) influence on Il’ya’s epos.
1. The heroic biography of Il’ya of Murom
Il’ya is conventionally precocious as befits a hero, his large size is noted, he has an extraordinary horse and wonderful weapons, marvelous weapons-skills (and a hero’s bad temper) he has combats with monstrous opponents (Nightingale the Robber, and a Dragon) as well as, more conventionally, with other powerful bogatyrs, and he has a troubled, confrontational relationship with a royal figure (here, Prince Vladimir of Kiev - though Il’ya also is called upon to defend Vladimir’s city of Kiev). All these incidents or characteristics show distinct if not precise parallels to Cú Chulainn’s career as they do to the biographies of many other epical warrior-heroes. (Like Cú Chulainn, Il’ya is a wanderer, not native to the place he eventually defends, and this wandering or errant habit or outsider’s status may be indicated in the formulaic appellation he is frequently given in the bylini and skazki: staryi kazak, “the Old Cossack”). It is worth noting that Il’ya’s “warrior-hero’s strength” - his bogatyrskaya síla - does not seem to be innate or inborn, but comes either from the time he spent (the formulaic thirty-three years) curing himself of an enfeebling malady by sitting on an oven, or because this power was passed on to him by the dying Sviatogor (Astakhova 1958: 499. Note that in Bailey and Ivanova’s version of the Sviatogor tale Il’ya refuses to accept the exceptional “power” Sviatogor offers him while dying; his refusal parallels an incident in the Norse tale “Bósa ok Herrauðr” where Bósi refuses to accept the aid of the sorceress Busla because “he didn’t want it to be known in his own saga” that he had accepted supernatural assistance, see Miller 2000: 360-361). Il’ya’s accumulation of “heat” from that oven (and his concomitant “cure”) of course associates him with the typical hero’s heat or fiery nature; in the champion Cú Chulainn’s Irish-Celtic case his ferg. Il’ya, however, is no head-taker, as Cú Chulainn preeminently is; in fact the only head-taking in his heroic legend is perpetrated by his son, Sokol’nik, who kills his own mother and gratuitously cuts off her head (the beheading threatened by the “Tatar” enemy of course identifies them as barbarians, but then Sokol’nik has certain Tatar, that is, questionable “foreign” characteristics).
The mention of the hero’s son of course activates the most striking similarity between the two stories of the Irish Celtic and the Russo-Slavic heroes, for both are deeply involved in that extraordinary Indo-European (and, arguably, proto-I-E) theme, the Vater-Söhnes-Kampf, (or more properly, the Söhnes-Todt) scenario, where the heroic father wanders off, engenders a son, then eventually fights and kills this son. I have spent some time examining this Indo-European theme in its many, often intricate shadings and variations; it is very widely encountered, in allomorphisms that stretch from the original or “pure” form of father-son combat (in Medieval German, Norse, Persian, Indic, and of course Irish Celtic and Russo-Slavic tales) through all sorts of other possibilities and permutations (even extending to certain comic and serio-comic confrontations) in any number of traditional societies and their heroic-epic and related sources (see Miller 1994/1996; 2000: 88-92). I suspect that there still are sub-types of and variations on this theme, and other cases, to identify.
2. Söhnes Todt drama in the bylina Il’ya Muromets i Sokol’nik and in the saga Aided Óenfir Aífe
The “pure” narrative core of this eventually deadly heroic scenario is simple and soon stated: the hero travels to a far land, and there he meets and “weds” a woman, and leaves her (perhaps) pregnant. He gives her some sort of token or sign, and the instruction to hand on this token or sign to their son - if a son be born of the irregular union, and of course one is born. Later the son and the father meet, challenge one another, the recognition token either is not seen in time or it is ignored, and the father- with some difficulty - slays his own heroic offspring.
First of all it must be said that it is useless to question savages as to the real motivation of their prohibitions or as to the genesis of taboo.To set out the specific versions of this plot featuring our two heroes:
(a) In Il’ya of Murom’s adventure he journeys to a far land, an exotic and eerie place; there (depending on the tale variant) he either meets and fights (and then has relations with) a female warrior (a bogatyrka - this is an Amazonian theme) or he meets an even more mysterious woman called by different names (Zlatygorki, Semigorki - names Bailey and Ivanova, and I think with some cause, believe to have a supernatural association). Il’ya leaves behind his “recognition” tokens: a “wondrous cross” and a golden ring. The son is born, grows prodigiously in size and strength (as a hero’s begetting should) and eventually he sets off for Kiev, announcing (to one of the bogatyrs he confronts there) that he has come to defeat and humble all of the city’s warrior defenders, burn the city, behead Prince Vladimir, marry the Princess Apraxia, and so on. He meets his hero-father twice and in the first encounter almost defeats him. The two are then (briefly) reconciled, at which point Sokol’nik returns to his mother’s land, kills her, comes back to Kiev and has another go at his father Il’ya - in fact he treacherously attacks him while his father is sleeping. But Il’ya Muromets is protected by his own “wondrous cross,” and, enraged, he grabs his son by his hair and throws him high into the air “but” says the bylina tersely “He didn’t catch him.” So Sokol’nik dies - at his own father’s hand.
(b) “The Death of Aife’s Only Son” (Aided Óenfir Aífe) is the tale attached to the great Táin Bó Cúailgne in which the nonpareil Irish hero Cú Chulainn, among other exploits, deals with his one son, young Connla. Aife is the warrior-woman whom the hero had impregnated while he is overseas, “studying” heroic subjects with the Scottish witch Scáthach; the “recognition token” he leaves with Aife is, again, a golden ring. The son who is born there (predictably) waxes in heroic strength and at the young age of seven sets sail for Ériu. One of the heroes of the Ulaid intercepts him as he prepares to land, but he is easily brushed aside, and eventually (with Cú ignoring the warning of his wife Emer) defending father and intruding son meet in single combat. Despite Connla’s child’s size he deals his father shrewd blows, and it in fact is only after the two are fighting in the sea nearby that Cú Chulainn, using “the trick of the gae bolga,” employs the uncanny weapon only he had been taught to use by the uncanny Scáthach, and he mortally wounds his son.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 175-83.
Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz: the Ukrainian Contribution
The Celtic presence in the territory of what is now the Ukraine has been studied from different standpoints. The most considerable results have been achieved by archaeologists. Since the first finds of La Tène artefacts as early as 1844 much has been unearthed from Ukrainian soil that proves that the western parts of the country were indeed inhabited by Celtic tribes. As archaeologists maintain, the earliest indications of Celtic material in Transcarpathia can be traced to the fifth-fourth centuries BC. The penetration of the Celts themselves in the area, however, begins only in the later part of the third century. The Celtic presence further east is reflected by the archaeological finds; see a useful summary by V. Bidzilja and M. Schukin (Bidzilja & Schukin 1993: 67-84, 68 (map)). Some views have been expressed that the Celtic influence can be traced in the so-called “La Tènized” archaeological cultures spread as far as the Dnieper (see e.g., Eremenko 1997; for a different view see Maximov 1999, Pačkova 2004).
1. The question of Celtic presence: etymologies of some oronyms in the Ukraine
The linguistic aspects of the Celtic presence in the Ukraine have also been considered. For obvious reasons it is not a matter of searching for borrowings from Celtic directly into Ukrainian. No inscriptions of Roman date which could contain Celtic place- or personal names are found in the area; and the ancient authors do not offer much information on the onomastic landscape of the region. Therefore, a linguistic study of Celtic presence in the area is confined to the analysis of toponymy, both ancient and modern. Sometimes existing linguistic attributions and etymological interpretations of the place-names are clearly naïve: for example, it is difficult to agree with some scholars who maintain that a Celtic tribal name Belgae is reflected in a Ukrainian place-name Belz (see particularly Strižak 1998: 73-74. For the Slavic attribution of the place-name see e.g. Neroznak 1983: 35-36). More interesting and thought-provoking observations have been made, of course. There is no doubt, for example that the place-name Karródounon attested in Ptolemy’s “Geography” (III, 6, 15) is Celtic . There are certain problems, however, with its localisation. Ptolemy lists it alongside with some other settlements on the Tyras (Dniester), and there are no attestations of this place-name in other sources. Ptolemy does supply this entry with grid references (49° 30´ / 48° 40´), and this led to its identification with modern Kamenets-Podolsk in the Ukraine (see already Braun 1899: 207; for earlier identifications Kulakovskij 1899: 26 and Müller 1883: 434). Most recently, however, it has been associated with a settlement Sokol located on the left bank of the Dniester to the south to Kamenets-Podolsk, one of the two sites in the area where the traces of Poienesti-Lukaševka archaeological culture are found (Zubarev 1999: 73; Zubarev 2005: 166-167. For the settlement see Pačkova 1977. Earlier Zubarev (1998: 63) identified Carrodunum with a settlement Neslavča I. On the corresponding archaeological culture see Babeş 1993 and a useful survey by Maximov (with Kasparova) 1993).
The Celticity of this particular place-name is transparent . There are more difficult cases, however. For example, the late O. Trubačov suggested that the river-names Tynja (Тыня), Tnja (Тня) and perhaps also Otavin might be Celtic in origin. Having ruled out other linguistic attributions , he refers to a mountain-name Taunum in Germania which he believes is Celtic. The name is in fact Taunus (Mela Chor. III.3.30; cf. Tauno Tacitus Ann. I.56, Taunum XII.28; C. Tavnensivm CIL XIII, 7064, Tavnenses 733), and may indeed be Celtic. In view of the archaeological reports mentioned above , the Celticity of the river-name(s) is admissible. The etymology of the allegedly Celtic river-name(s) in the Ukraine, however, may be different. One perhaps should consider here a set of hydronyms collected by X. Delamarre (2003: 293) in his Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise s.v. tauo- < tauso- ‘silencieux, tranquille’. According to Delamarre, they should be compared with Irish tó, tóe ‘silencieux’, Welsh taw ‘silence’, to IE *taus- with a subsequent loss of the intervocalic -s-. However, as Graham R. Isaac maintains, “derivation of Taua from *taus- remains speculative, and no positive evidence can be adduced for it” (Isaac 2005: 204; cf. Isaac 2004: s. v. Taoúa p.e., comments on ‘Britannicae Insulae’). In this judgement he restricts himself to the Ptolomaic data of the British Isles; if the river-name on the eastern outskirts of the Celtic world is in fact Gaulish, there is a tiny possibility that it may belong here. There is some evidence, however, that intervocal -s- remains intact in the “eastern” Gaulish place-names, and it would be methodologically incorrect to claim for a phonetic development of sibilant which is different from what is normally found in Gaulish ; a hypothesis of its loss in the process of adaptation poses even more questions than it attempts to answer. Further, Isaac mentions that the IE root *tā- ‘flow’, sometimes considered in etymological analyses of the similar-looking river-names, is a ghost form; and draws attention to the root *teh2- ‘to thaw, to melt’. Isaac admits that there are many problems if Ptolomaic Taoúa is to be compared with the river-name Taw (Old English Táw, Middle English Tau) in Devon, undeniably of Celtic origin: the protoform for the latter must contain a short initial ă which is inconsistent with the IE derivation.
Although Isaac admits that “the IE affiliation and Celticity of Taoua are doubtful”, the etymon he discussed may be well relevant for the analysis of the river-name in the Ukraine. If *Tāwā to be derived from *teh2-u-eh2-, Tauna may reflect *teh2-u-n-eh2- (descriptive only), cf. Isaac’s derivation of the river-name Tina from *tih1-neh2-, with a synonymous PIE root *teih1- ‘get hot’, therefore ‘melted, thawed river’ (Isaac 2005: 205) (which may refer to the melting of snow?).
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 71-74.
Obligatory and Non-obligatory Control in Irish and Polish
The aim of the paper is to establish a typology of control in Irish and Polish. What is first examined in the two languages analysed are verbs taking non-finite complements. The main focus of the paper is laid on two types of control, namely obligatory and non-obligatory control. Having presented the criteria for distinguishing obligatory from non-obligatory control, the validity of these criteria is tested against Irish and Polish data. Within the class of obligatory control two subtypes are recognised, i.e. exhaustive and partial control. The distinctive properties of these two subtypes of obligatory control are scrutinised together with the contexts where they obtain in the languages investigated. It is argued that the various control types occur in analogous contexts and show similar properties in Irish and Polish.
1.0. Verbs taking non-finite complements in Irish and Polish
There exist seven classes of verbs in Irish and Polish that can take non-finite complements. These classes are listed in table 1 below.
||caithfidh ‘must’, tá ar ‘have to’, is gá do ‘it is necessary’, teastaíonn ó ‘need’, tig le ‘can/may’, féadann do ‘can’
||musieć ‘must’, umieć ‘can’, powinno się ‘should’, mieć ‘be to’
||tosaigh ‘begin’, coinníonn ‘continue’, stad de ‘stop’, stop ó ‘stop, cease’
||zaczynać ‘start’, kończyć ‘finish’, przestać ‘stop’
||éiríonn le ‘succeed, manage’, teipeann ar ‘fail’, chuaigh de ‘fail’, cinneann ar ‘fail’, cliseann ar ‘fail’, déan dearmad ar ‘forget’
||ośmielać się ‘dare’, zdołać ‘manage’, zapominać ‘forget’, pamiętać ‘remember’
||taitníonn le ‘like’, tá mé sásta le ‘I am glad/content with’, is maith le ‘like’
||lubić ‘like’, nienawidzieć ‘hate’, nie znosić ‘can’t stand’, być przykro ‘be sorry’
||tá faoi ‘intend’, tá sé ar intinn ag ‘intend’, síl ‘intend’, socraigh ‘decide’, teastaíonn ó ‘want’, is fearr le ‘prefer’
||chcieć ‘want’, woleć ‘prefer’, mieć nadzieję ‘hope’, obawiać się ‘be afraid’, zgodzić się ‘agree’, zamierzać ‘intend’
||tá a fhios agam ‘I know’, fiafraigh de ‘inquire’, tá tuairim ag ‘be of opinion/ guess’
||pytać ‘ask’, zastanawiać się ‘wonder’, wypytywać ‘inquire’, dowiadywać się ‘find out’
The above classification requires a word of comment. The labels, such as modals, aspectuals, implicatives, etc., used in table 1, have been borrowed from Landau (2000:38) and the reader is referred to his work to determine what exactly the particular label denotes. As regards modal verbs, some of them represent raising, rather than control, predicates, a fact observed for Irish by Mac Mathúna (1974), McCloskey (1984, 1985) and for Polish by Witkoś (1998). Aspectual verbs in Irish and Polish can also be treated as raising predicates. Interrogative complements in Irish, unlike their Polish counterparts, are restricted to expressing only place, time, manner or reason, as shown by the bracketed portion of sentence (1) below:
(1) go bhfuil fhios agatsa [cad ina thaobh í a bheith mar atá sí]
C is knowledge at-you-EMPH why she PRT be-VN like be-REL she
‘that you know why she is the way she is’
Since this paper is devoted to a typology of control, only verbs that can take control, not raising, non-finite complements will be scrutinised here. Example (1) also illustrates a striking property of Irish non-finite clauses, namely the presence of an overt subject.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 99-117.
Direct Object Double Marking in Celtic and South Slavic Languages –
The phenomenon of direct object double marking in Old and Middle Irish was described by Ina Lucht in her paper ‘Doppelte Markierung des Akkusativs beim Transitivum im Altirischen’ (Lucht 1994). She describes constructions like
(1) Old Irish (SSMD§9,l.8)
ni- s -toirchi in muicc fon indas sin
3Sgf V art:AccSg pig:AccSg
‘You will not get the pig in that way’
Ina Lucht analyses these constructions as “after-thought topic shift”, the phenomenon described by T. Givón (Givón 1976: 154) (in his later works he prefers the term “R-dislocation” (Givón 1990: 761)). The NPs doubled by object clitic are usually characterized by definiteness and/or giveness (Lucht 1994: 89-90). The author records a Middle Irish tendency for cooccurence of object clitic and independent pronoun, impossible in Old Irish (Lucht 1994: 112).
2) Middle Irish (LU 8877)
no- s- curat 7 no- s- traethat inna geniti hé
Obj3Sgm V Obj3Sgm V 3Sgm
‘the spirits were beating and overpowering him’
In conclusion of her paper I. Lucht asserts that the construction analysed is possible in all languages that possess object clitics and enumerates the following languages: colloquial French, Balkan languages and Middle Welsh.
1. Towards classification categories of the phenomenon of double marking in Celtic and Slavic
Is the construction in those languages really the same? In how far can we consider examples (1, 2) and the following (3, 4, 5) as the same phenomenon?
Je veux la voir, elle
‘I want to see her’
(4) Bulgarian (Lopashov 1978: 28)
А познаваше го тя и него хубаве
V 3SgmAcc:clitic 3SgmAcc
‘And she knew also him well’
(5) Middle Welsh (PKM87.2-3)
Pwy bynnac a 'm metrei i yuelly…
Obj1Sg V 1Sg
‘Whoever should smite me so…’
What all these examples have in common is the possibility of presence of an NP or a strong pronoun and an object clitic in the same sentence.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 119-30.
The Celts and the Slavs: On K. H. Schmidt’s hypothesis on the Eastern origin of the Celts
Language links between Celtic and Slavic branches of Indo-European are much less studied than, for instance, those between Celtic and Italic. Research in this area is mostly carried out among Slavic scholars, of whom there are but a few. One of rare Celtic scholars, on the other hand, to pay attention to Celto-Slavic links and contacts is K. H. Schmidt, whose treatment of the Slavic evidence is impeccable. His 1985 article (Schmidt 1985) - unfortunately, mostly inaccessible to Russian scholars - remains one of the major contributions in this field. I would like to draw particular attention in what follows to a number of points in Schmidt’s theory.
It is necessary to analyse relations between Celtic and other branches of Indo-European in their dynamics; in other words, we must pay attention to absolute, as well as relative chronology, and consider that relations between Celts and Italics, Slavs etc. were different at different moments of time. Trivial as it may seem, this observation points to an area of study that has been rather poorly explored to date. The present article is an attempt to create a chronological scale for possible Celto-Slavic contacts.
1. Celtic and Slavic isoglosses and the periods of Celto-Slavic contact
From the point of view of traditional Indo-European scholarship, Celtic languages belong to the Western group of Indo-European dialects; the main criterion for this division is, of course, the “centum vs satEm” opposition. In this respect, Celtic, as well as Italic and Germanic, does not have a distinction between *k and *Kˆ.
The majority of isoglosses which link Celtic and Slavic (and other Indo-European languages once spoken in ancient Europe) are part of the common European language material which ultimately goes back to the common Indo-European past. But it would be wrong to place them all on one particular chronological level, for example, Proto-Indo-European. Similarities between Celtic and Slavic are not only defined by historical circumstances, but may point to regional and chronological specifics of the development of individual branches of Indo-European in Europe. I am now talking about a number of archaic features which cannot constitute Indo-European heritage, but evolved in the course of later language contacts.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 63-9.
Old Irish and Slavic Prefixed Verbs and the Function of Prefixes
The long chain of verbal prefixes commonly found in the Old Irish glosses is a phenomenon that should be studied in the wide context of cliticization. The normal order of the prefixes has been investigated (cf. McCone 1997: 89-93) and cases of irregular order have also been observed. The verbal prefixes are homonymous with prepositions of known meaning and origin. The exact function of the prefixes as they are found in a chain is not always clear, nor is the reason for the order in which they occur. It would be interesting to know in what order the different prefixes were added to the chain in the process that McCone (1997) calls “primary composition”. “Secondary composition”, in the terminology of McCone, is found in calques on Latin compounds but also occurs in native compounds, as when a preverb is prefixed to a pre-existing prefixed or non-prefixed verb. This phenomenon did not necessarily arise at a late period.
1. The Old Irish prefixes ro-, com- and ad-
It is well known that strongly telic prefixes such as ro-, com- or ad- could be affixed (or sometimes prefixed) to an existing chain of preverbs in order to indicate that an act or a state is seen as completed (Thurneysen 1946: 341ff). These telic prefixes have been understood as indicating perfective aspect, but have also been said to form a perfect. With verbs in the present tense ro- and com- are of modal meaning and indicate possibility or ability.
According to Thurneysen (1946: 344) cot-n-omalt (LU 9072) which belongs to con·meil ‘grinds’ suggests that oss- may be used in the same way as ro-, com- etc.
Old Irish fris·com-org- (beside fris·oirc ‘injures’) has an infixed com as does do·é-com-nacht ‘has bestowed’ where com has been added to do·ind-naig. This is also the position of the so called fixed ro. in·r-úa-lad ‘I have entered’ shows a similar process in the case of ro, which has been infixed in second position, -r-ind·úa-lad (Ml. 93cl4) ‘thou hast entered’ shows ro- in a different position. A doubling of ro- occurs with some verbs where this preverb is joined to a compound which already contains a ro-, in which case the second ro- is prefixed to the entire compound as in the negative form ni-ru·de-r-choín. (Thurneysen 1946: 346).
Though the local meaning of most prefixes is often obvious, the question sometimes arises whether a certain prefix when found in a chain is of local/directional or actional nature.
Chains of four prefixes which do not contain any of the strongly telic prefixes ro-, com-, ad- or ess- are common, as in fo-ind-ar-uss-ben. Such chains are also found in nouns such as intururas ‘incursion’, which shows the four prefixes ind-to-air-uss- in front of -ress (Thurneysen 1946: 495).
comtherchomracc ‘assembly’ shows five prefixes (com-to-er-com-ro-), followed by the verbal stem icc. This example shows doubling of a prefix, as does in-t-in(n)-scanna ‘begins’ beside do-in-scana (Thurneysen 1946: 519-520). In certain cases, doubling may possibly have been caused by accent (Thurneysen 1946: 351), but there may be other reasons for this phenomenon which have not been satisfactorily explained. In the cited examples we find an actional prefix in so-called secondary composition in front of to-, a preverb that otherwise most often stands in first position as an introductory particle to a chain of preverbs.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 87-98.
Perfect and Possessive Structures in Irish and Russian
The present article has two main objectives. First of, all it aims to introduce Slavonic data into the discussion of the Irish perfect. As the perfect is a category which is not often used by the literati who have been the only source of written evidence on language history for centuries, its development remains concealed to a considerable extent. This lack of diachronic data leads us to hypothetical reconstructions. The Russian literary and dialectal perfect forms may provide some evidence as to how a similar structure may have also developed in Irish. Certain explanations of the Russian form could thus be equally applicable to the making of the Irish perfect. Presenting these explanations and the ways of applying them to the Irish perfect forms the second objective of the article.
1. Be-languages vs. have-languages
One of the linguistic features that both Irish and Russian share is the fact that they are both so called be-languages as opposed to have-languages according to the classification suggested by A.V.Isacenko (1974). Be-languages express the meaning of possession by using a construction of the type “mihi est” or “est apud me” – both based on the verb “to be”. However have-languages use a specialised possessive verb for this case (cf. in English “to have”). In fact Russian does have a verb with the meaning “to have” – “иметь”, which in fact is borrowed from Old-Church-Slavonic it appears to be highly limited in use. Irish hasn’t got such a verb at all. Thus for the phrase “X has a dog” the Irish and Russian equivalents would be respectively (1) and (2).
(1) Tá madra ag X
is a dog at X
У Х-а (есть) собака
at X.GEN (is) a dog
It seems reasonable to characterise the two different ways of encoding possession as using a Possessive Verb (hereinafter PV) (e.g. English ‘have’, French ‘avoir’, Chinese ‘yǒu’ etc.) or a Possessive Construction (hereinafter PC) (e.g. Latin [NP.DAT + esse], Finnish [NP.ADESSIV + olla (‘to be’)], Japanese [NP(-ni)-wa (theme) + aru/iru ‘to be’] etc.).
Structures with perfect meaning both in Irish and Russian, as the case often is in different languages, use the notion of possession to express the agent obliquely: the possessor thus being the subject or the one who “possesses” the result of the previous action.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 131-42.
Hiberno-Rossica: ‘knowledge in the clouds’ in Old Irish and Old Russian
The present discussion aims to deal with one rare example of formulaic similarities in Old Irish and Old Russian poetic speech. In the past few years several studies have appeared devoted to the question of Celto-Slavic isoglosses or correspondences in theonymics and mythopoeic language. The paper is devoted to two particular fragments in two Old Irish and Old Russian texts with a special emphasis on the semantics and on the poetic rules, which are common to both examples. An attempt is made to tackle the problem of a common Indo-European ancestry for the formula discussed and for the cultural realities, which this formula reflects.
1. Immacallam in druad Brain ocus inna banfhátho Febuil hóas Loch Fhebuil
The first text is an Old Irish poem Immacallam in druad Brain ocus inna banfhátho Febuil hóas Loch Fhebuil (‘The dialogue of Bran’s druid and Febul’s prophetess above Loch Febuil’, henceforth IDB). The poem has been collated and edited with a translation by J. Carney (1976) whose edition I will use in this paper. The Dialogue consists of eight stanzas, four uttered by Bran’s druid, and four by Febul’s prophetess (banfháith, both their names are unknown) as they contemplated Loch Febuil (Lough Foyle) which had inundated the ancient kingdom of Febul, Bran’s father. It is remarkable that druí and faith are often interchangeable in early Irish literature: both perform the function of divination. Nevertheless neither the druid nor the prophetess perform any divination in our text. They are preoccupied with the past and the hidden present rather than with the future. IDB is preserved in two manuscripts whose versions of the account are very close: TCD MS. 1363 (formerly H. 4. 22) (H) (the sixteenth century), p. 48 cols. a and b and Nat. Lib. of Ireland Gaelic Ms. 7 (N) (the sixteenth - early seventeenth century), cols. 9 and 10. The poem belongs to the group of texts from the lost eighth-century manuscript Cín Dromma Snechta as becomes obvious from the words asin l.c. nicc ‘from the same book hic’ in MS. H. 4. 22. J. Carney (1976: 181) dated the text on linguistic grounds by the early seventh century at the latest.
J. Carey (2002) on the other hand argues that there are no linguistic grounds to date the poem earlier than the eighth century, but he does not altogether exclude a seventh century date for the text in question. The quatrain which interests us is in deibide metre. Bran’s druid is a character associated with knowledge, or ‘faculty of cognition’ (fius): at first he calls himself ‘not a man of little knowledge’ (ni ba-se fer fesso bic), then his knowledge flies to the high clouds, and finally reaches a pure well with jewels. Our interest lies in the second stanza of the poem ascribed to Bran’s druid and devoted to the flight of his ‘knowledge’.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 185-200.
A Swan Uncarved: Russian and Irish Heroes breaking the Table Etiquette
Quarrels at feasts were a common topic in heroic poetry and epic in many countries and ages. The feast was a convenient occasion for a public display of one’s status and wealth and a handy opportunity for the reestablishment and re-evaluation of one’s public role.
1. Definition and classifications of feasts
In the last few decades, the concept of feast attracted much attention from historians, archaeologists and ethnologists alike. The evidence of feasts from archaeology, ethnology, and written sources is analysed from social and gender perspectives as well as numerous other points of view. Different theories concerning the meaning of feasting in different ages and cultures have been put forward. However, many of those ideas and observations may be applied in a more general way.
The definition of what constitutes a feast is a moot point. Among the leading scholars in the field, B. Hayden (Hayden 2001: 28) prefers a very wide definition:
A feast is any sharing between two or more people of special foods (i.e. foods not generally served at daily meals) in a meal for a special purpose or occasion.
M.J. Clarke (Clarke 2001: 145) gives a similar description:
A feast is any ritualised meal that is consumed by two or more people. By ‘ritualised’, I mean that the meal is not eaten solely for sustenance, but rather, is considered as only one facet of a greater social event.
M. Dietler (Dietler 1996: 89) considers the social function of feasting more important:
As public ritual events, in contrast to daily activity, feasts provide an arena for the highly condensed symbolic representation of social relations. Like all rituals, they express an idealized concept that is the way people believe relations exist or should exist rather than how they are necessary manifested in daily activity. However, in addition to this idealized representation of the social order, they also offer the potential for manipulation by individuals or groups attempting to alter or make statements about their relative position within that social order as it is perceived and presented.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 201-15.
On the Function of Name in Irish and Slavonic Written Incantation Tradition
The comparison between Irish and Russian popular charm-traditions can be, or may be, a subjective one. I have studied the spiritual culture of Celtic peoples for a long time, and tried to compare it with Russian material familiar to me and easily accessible.
At the same time, as may be suggested, this comparison is not so subjective, because of a special kind of “naïve Christianity”, superimposed on the developed priestly pagan culture in combination with traditional popular beliefs. This superimposition created a specific symbiosis of cultures both in Ireland and in Russia. We draw the reader’s attention here not only to the so-called “double-faith” (dvoeverie), but also to a specific attitude to magic, especially to the magic of a spoken or written word. The words of a Russian annalist, that “the Russian people like magic and witchcraft” (Русские люди прелестни и падки на волхвование) could be applied to the Irish people too, and a specific kind of Irish women-magic (amaitecht) is reminiscent of the Russian “wizard-women” (вещие женки).
Each word of our title needs a special commentary. Our investigation has a further aim of drawing a universal model: of the functioning and pragmatics of ‘magic texts’, inside a local culture as well as, in general, against the wide background of the stable belief in the ‘power of the word’. But before we proceed to investigate that, we have to start with the problem of terminology.
By ‘incantation’ or ‘charm’ (from Latin canticum ‘song, incantation’) we would understand, following J. Roper (Roper 2004: 1), “the verbal element of vernacular magic practice”. We suppose this definition is better than an old definition by brothers Grimm, which proposed to call ‘charms’ “verbal formulas, of Christian and non-Christian form, used outside of a Church context, and to which are attributed a supernatural effect, mostly of a protective, healing kind” (cf. [Roper 2004, 1]). Our definition, we suppose, may be too rather broad but for this very reason it allows for a wider comparative study, with regard not only to the folk charm-tradition, but also to medieval manuscripts created within monastic milieux (in Ireland and in Slavonic countries), as well as to the pre-Christian pagan ‘charm-material’ of the ancient world.
2. The concept of the name
With regard to the traditional culture of incantations (or charms) we propose to distinguish between two different uses of the term ‘name’: the ‘background name’ and the ‘subject name’.
By ‘background name’ we mean the use of the names of Christian saints (including local saints from apocryphal traditions) as well as personages of pagan beliefs; all of these create a specific background to the magic formula. The background demonstrates the orientation and the religious identity of the compiler and of the user of the magic text. As we understand, our material, especially Russian and, in general, Slavonic, provides us with numerous examples of the confusion between naïve Christianity and popular superstitions and beliefs, which may not be really pagan, but may demonstrate the adoration of the forces of nature.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 163-73.
Some Breton Words in the Dictionary of the Russian Empress
The aim of this paper is to remind us of one fact important for both the history of comparative studies in Russia and the history of Breton language and its rehabilitation in the XIX-XX centuries.
The Breton language was first acknowledged in Russian linguistic research in the XVIII century, when the Empress Catherine II decided to launch an impressive research project that would lead to the publication of a dictionary of all the languages of the world. (As well as other European languages, the dictionary would have contained a section allocated to the native language of Lower Brittany.) With this aim in mind, she appointed an editorial team consisting of three scholars. A German, Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811), was put in charge of the project. He had been the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences between 1768 and 1774, and had participated in several research expeditions to a number of regions of the Empire, including Southern Siberia. Pallas was joined by a Serbian Jankovich de Marievo (1741 - 1814), who had been summoned to Russia from Vienna in 1773 by Catherine II and appointed as a director of Russian public schools. The third appointee in Pallas’s team was another German, Hartmann-Ludwig-Christian Bakmeister (1736-1806).
The most important part of the dictionary comprised sections dedicated to the languages of the different ethnic groups that inhabited different parts of Russia. The remaining part of the publication dealt with European languages, arranged by linguistic groups. Most of the sections dedicated to the Western European languages, including the Celtic languages, were prepared by Bakmeister.
It is important to note that this edition and the research that made it possible laid the foundations of modern comparative linguistic studies in Russia. The first edition of the dictionary, Linguarum Totius Orbis Vocabularia (hereinafter LTOV, in Russian known as Сравнительные словари всех языков и наречий, собранные десницею Всевысочайшей Особы) was published in 1787-89. This edition contained 185 entries describing 142 Asian and 51 European languages. The second edition was published in 1790-91, it contained information on 272 languages and dialects, and 273 entries were represented in this edition. The Celtic languages were represented in both editions as following: Celtic (it is not clear to which Celtic language this referred), Breton, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Cornish.
1. Breton language in Linguarum Totius Orbis Vocabularia
If I judge my readers’ impressions correctly, I dare say that after hearing all that was said about taboo they are far from knowing what to undersAs in the case of many other languages, information about Breton reached the researchers via a number of intermediaries, both human and linguistic. A list of words was first drawn in Russian, then it was translated into Latin and thence into French. This list of French words was communicated to the French ambassador, the count of Segur. On the 15th of July 1785, he sent the list of French words to Baron de Breteuil, who in turn sent it to the commissary of Brittany Antoine-François Bertrand de Moleville. De Molleville was not himself a Breton speaker; therefore he had to find someone else to help him fulfil the Russian empress’s request. Although it may appear paradoxical that in the XVIII century, when Breton was spoken by an overwhelming proportion of the population of the western part of the peninsula (Lower Brittany), it was not easy to find someone able to translate a list of French words into Breton. In order to understand this difficulty, one needs to bear in mind that at the time there was no such thing as ‘standard’ Breton language or ‘standard’ Breton spelling. The four dialects of Breton (Cornovaillais, Trégorois, Leonard, and Vannetais) showed much variation from each other; moreover, each author employed his own version of spelling. Meanwhile, in order to find the so-called ‘correct’ forms, the translators seem to have used Grégoire de Rostrenen’s Dictionnaire (1732). Grégoire de Rostrenen was a Capucin priest who composed a dictionary and a grammar of Breton language which favoured the Leon dialect.
In an effort to determine which dialect was the ‘correct’ one, de Molleville sent the list to his subordinates – to Le Goazre in Quimper (where the Cornouaille dialect was spoken) and to Le Briquir Dumeshir in Lannion (the Trégor dialect). Each translated the words into the Breton spoken in his town.
Thus, the search for a Breton translation of the list of words compiled by the research team appointed by the Russian empress took no less than four months – from August to October 1785, according to the archive discovered and published in the Annales de Bretagne by Roger Gargadennec and Charles Laurent in 1968
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 143-8.
‘Going Home to Russia’? Irish Writers and Russian Literature
‘Perhaps Ireland is a little Russia in which the longest way round is always the shortest way home’ (Moore 1985, 124-25)
The Russian poet Josef Brodski once wrote: ‘I’m talking to you - but it isn’t / my fault if you can’t hear me’. Undoubtedly, Brodski’s voice was heard: for example, that very line was used as an epigraph by Polish poet Anna Czekanowicz in her own aptly named ‘Travel Poem’ (Czekanowicz 1993: 56). Russian writers, have also been heard, loud and clear, in Ireland for many years now, as is evidenced by Seamus Heaney’s epitaph for Brodski, ‘Audenesque’, in Electric Light (Heaney 2001: 64).
This is one indication of what I would call a ‘special relationship’ between Russian and Irish writing. Indeed, many Russian texts and authors have spoken to Irish writers who have, in turn, been keen to listen in to their Russian counterparts. In the early twentieth-century, for example, George Moore modelled his collection of stories The Untilled Field (1903) on Ivan Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Sketches (1852); while Irish language authors, from Padraic Ó Conaire and Padraic Mac Piarais / Pearse to Máirtín Ó Cadhain and after, have been hugely impressed and inspired by Russian masters of the short story, including Nikolai Gogol and Maxim Gorki.
More than listening in, Irish authors have often closely identified with what they have heard ‘across the hearth rug’ (Longley 1982) from Russia: for example, Paul Durcan gave a whole collection of poems the title, Going Home to Russia (Durcan 1987). This is a curious title, and collection, but it implies that an Irish writer such as Durcan can feel ‘at home’ (if not more at home) in Russia. Why? There are several possibilities or suggestions that arise from a reading of Durcan’s and other Irish texts: firstly, Russia is familiar to the Irish through the former’s art, literature and wider culture; secondly, there is often a vague, general (but not necessarily inaccurate) assumption that Russia and Russians are, in some ways, like Ireland and the Irish. In the case of rural life, for example, one may be tempted to compare Russian boyars and serfs to the nineteenth-century ‘landlord and peasant’ relations in Ireland. Certainly, some Irish writers have heard echoes, and seen similarities, between Russian suffering under Czars and Gensecs, and Irish struggles under the English Crown.
Returning to Brodski’s ‘talking’ and ‘listening’, there is also evidence of Russian authors tuning in to the Irish: notably, Anna Akhmatova placed Joyce among her three favourite international authors (outside of mother Russia); the others were Proust and Shakespeare. Here, however, I want to concentrate on Russian talking, then Irish listening and answering back.
1. Answering traditions
First, it is worth noting that there are similarities between the literary histories of Ireland and Russia: the latter possesses an ancient and long-standing oral tradition, featuring ‘bards’; periods of foreign cultural and linguistic dominance at court; also a resurgence of native language and culture, embodied for Russians in the arrival of Alexander Pushkin who, in Fedor Dostoevski’s words, ‘became the nation’ and who ‘is the Russian language’. More recently, for aesthetic and linguistic enrichment, the twenteith-century Russian writer such as Marina Tsvetaeva followed the earlier (political) notion of ‘going to the people’ by immersing herself in folklore, and utilizing colloquial Russian speech during at least one inspirational phase of her career.
The echoes with Ireland are obvious. Consider, for example, the history of the Irish language (including its own bardic tradition); both the Celtic Literary and Gaelic Revivals; and, latterly, a contemporary poet such as Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill who has proved the maxim that ‘culture is a conversation between equals’ (Stephens 1988: 179) by following Tsvetaeva’s daring example, and answering the former’s ‘We shall not escape hell’ with her own ‘Táimid damanta, a dhearfearacha’ / ‘We are damned, my sisters’ – a poem which is based on Tsvetaeva’s original but transposed into an Irish-and-international work that is just as timeless and challenging (Ní Dhomhnaill 1991: 14). But why do poets and writers such as Ní Dhomhnaill ‘listen in’ to Russia in particular?
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 239-251.
Concluding Remarks: What’s in Celto-Slavica?
The importance of the study of the connection and exchange between Celtic and Slavic has been underrated in past scholarship, so much so that little published research has been known in the West concerning this very rewarding field of research. Prof. Mac Mathúna’s paper on the scope and achievement of Celtic Studies in Russia and the USSR in this volume counts over one hundred and fifty titles of importance, while Prof. Stalmaszczyk lists some two hundred titles from Poland (Stalmaszczyk 2004). Publications from the Czech Republic, Croatia and other Slavic countries on Celtic matters are still waiting to be listed and made known to a wider audience.
Translations are of course very important mediators between academic cultures as they are instrumental for the transfer of knowledge. Here are great opportunities for Celtic research undertaken in the Slavic countries to become accessed outside their own domains. Until recently, scholarly publications on Celtic matters in the Slavic languages were accessible only to very few academics in the Western countries, as political and linguistic barriers restricted both physical and intellectual mobility. It is to be hoped that, in the future, the most important research results on materia celtica published in the Slavic languages will soon be made available in translation to scholars elsewhere, if only in translation.
I became aware of this storehouse of knowledge, when between the 1970s and 1990s in the house of one of my academic teachers, Herbert Pilch, I had the great privilege of personally meeting Professors V.N. Yartseva, Thomas Gamkrelidse, Anatoly Liberman and others while on their lecturing tours in Germany. It is also in his house that I first met Dr. Alexander Falileyev. Awareness of the great Eastern academic potential led me to invite Dr. Victor P. Kalygin as a Humboldt scholar to the University of Freiburg i. Breisgau in 1990-1992 and Dr. S. V. Shkunayev to one of the Government-sponsored Colloquia on the ‘Oral and the Written in Tension and Transition with special reference to Táin Bó Cuailnge’ (cf. Shkunayev 1994). Dr. Falileyev kindly arranged for me to publish a report in St. Petersburg (Tristram 1999) on the Potsdam project of the ‘Celtic Englishes’ as well as a preliminary study on the influence which the initial language contact between the native Britons and the early Anglo-Saxons exercised on the formation of the English language (Tristram 1998).
Celtic, Germanic, Romance and Slavic form the largest groups of speakers in Europe of the Indo-European linguistic family. The investigation of the overarching structures between these groups of speakers has a long tradition. Suffice it here to mention the most important recent studies of the interface between Celtic and Germanic (Birkhan 1970, Ellis Evans 1981, Schmidt 1991), Celtic and Romance (Müller 1982, Schmitt 1997), and Celtic and Slavic (Schmidt 1985, Kalygin 1997). I am not aware, however, of the existence as yet of a coherent account of the connections and the exchanges between the Celts and Slavs, ancient and modern. It is to be hoped that the conferences organised by the Societas Celto-Slavica will lay the foundation for a future general conspectus of the linguistic, literary and cultural topics of shared interest between these two important European cultural domains.
How do we conceptualise such topics transcending the individual Celtic and Slavic language families, languages, literatures and cultures? What is their scientific research interest? I would suggest five different areas of research, whose specific methodologies may yield fruitful insights. The keywords for these areas are the four Cs: curiosity, contrast, contact and genetic connection.
The most basic interest is that of curiosity relating to unconnected, unrelated or only distantly related cultures. Anything can be made the subject of research in order to satisfy the desire for the knowledge about and the understanding of foreign lifestyle(s), languages, literatures, religions and other cultural manifestations. Curiosity mediates between the culture of the Self (‘identity’) and the culture of the Other (‘alterity’). Anything can of course be compared to serve the Self in its desire of self-definition. Scholars outside the Celtic countries interested in Celtic cultures will therefore turn to the crossing points between their own cultures and that of the Celts.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. 253-265.
Inaugural Address: Remarks on Celto-Slavica
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Spectabilis, Professor Mac Mathúna, Ladies and Gentlemen,
When my friend Professor Séamus Mac Mathúna asked me to make a few remarks at the outset of our conference, I regarded this as a privilege and a signal honour.
First of all, let me congratulate our distinguished host, Professor Séamus Mac Mathúna, on his ingenious idea of forming the Societas Celto-Slavica. I am sure you will all join me in thanking him and his colleagues most sincerely for their organisation of the first meeting of the Society so efficiently. I should also like to express my thanks to the University of Ulster, Coleraine, for their warm hospitality. Moreover, I feel an urge to wish the newly founded association a prosperous and bright future.
The participation of Germans in the establishment of the Societas Celto-Slavica reminds me of the quotation from Johann Caspar Zeuss (1806-1856), one of the fathers of Celtic Philology, who wrote in 1837:
Das Slowenische, Deutsche und Keltische sind die drei äußersten nordwestlichen Glieder einer großen von Indien bis Hibernien reichenden Sprachenfamilie (Zeuss 1837: 18).
Slavic, Germanic and Celtic are the three extreme north-western members of a large linguistic family reaching from India up to Hibernia.
In contrast to Zeuss, Antoine Meillet differentiated in 1908 between Slavic as an eastern Indo-European (IE) language and Celtic as a western IE language:
L'indo-iranien, le slave, le baltique, l'arménien, (et l'albanais) forment le groupe oriental ... Il y a d'autre part un groupe, également naturel, de dialectes occidentaux: germanique, celtique et italique (Meillet 1908: 131).
Indo-Iranian, Slavic, Baltic, Armenian (and Albanian) form the eastern group ... There is, moreover, a group which is also natural and consists of the western dialects: Germanic, Celtic and Italic.
Read the full article: Parallels between Celtic and Slavic, pp. vii-xiii.