Talk:Classical Gaelic

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Advance discussion to requested move[edit]

I seriously suggest we move this article over to "Classical Common Gaelic" rather than "Early Modern Irish". The language was not written exclusively in Ireland, but was used contemporaneously in Scotland and in fact longer in the latter. It doesn't have any more in common with Modern Irish than it does with any of the other Goidelic languages. Also, calling it "early Modern Irish" seems to imply that it was the vernacular of Irish spoken in the country during the early modern era when in fact the spoken language was by this time closer to Modern Irish and Classical Gaelic was simply the literary language. --- User:Crazygraham

It's not our call to make. In the linguistics literature, this language is called Early Modern Irish. —Angr 23:37, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
Of what "linguistics literature" do you speak? I've heard it referred to as Classical Common Gaelic before and the ethnologue link provided on the article itself refers to it as "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic" which leads me to believe that the two names are at least as acceptable as the spurious "Early Modern Irish". --- User:Crazygraham
I've never heard "Classical Common Gaelic" in my life, and Ethnologue simply invented the term "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic". It's 2:00 AM where I am so I don't have time to do a complete literature search for you, but if you do a Google search for "Classical Common Gaelic" and "Early Modern Irish", excluding Wikipedia from the results, you'll find the latter is orders of magnitude more common than the former. One work I can name off the top of my head is Stair na Gaeilge (ISBN 0-901519-90-1), which calls it An Nua-Ghaeilge Chlasaiceach. —Angr 23:55, 19 June 2007 (UTC)
In Michael Fry's "Wild Scots" the language is referred to as Classical Common Gaelic and "The New Penguin History of Scotland" uses the same term. Granted, neither of these are linguistic textbooks but I think that they (Penguin at least) are credible enough sources. I can't think of any more books that use the term off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are some. It seems curious to me that the term supposedly doesn't exist seeing as its used in both of these books. --- User:Crazygraham

"I've never heard "Classical Common Gaelic" in my life" - Interesting. I, on the other hand, havent seen "Early Modern Irish" used anywhere outside of wikipedia. Classical Gaelic is in my experience the name used for this language. Ive also come across the use of "Common Gaelic" but not very frequently. Ethnologue may well have invented "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic" (and this somehow makes it less legitimate than "Early Modern Irish" ? which, as an English term, obviously cannot itself be anything other than invented) but it is a perfectly accurate name for the language unlike the inaccurate, anachronistic and misleading "Early Modern Irish" which might well please Irish nationalists but has nothing else going for it. siarach (talk) 23:46, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree. The quaintness and Hibernocentrism of "Irish" aside, this is still a particularly badly named article. Nothing which allegedly begins in the 13th century is Early Modern. Like much that comes out of the linguistic community, that's historically ridiculous. Classical Gaelic would be better, or Classical Irish if it must be. And btw I've seen Classical Common Gaelic used loads of times ... usually when the starry-eyed idea that peasants from Munster and Connaught to Caithness and Strathearn were all speaking it is called into question, e.g. "Common Gaelic Revisited" in Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 00:52, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

I'd like to concur with An Siarach, the Deacon & Crazygraham. I suggest we move this article. I have also included the Isle of Man and Manx in the listings, since it could be said to have been spoken there. --MacRusgail (talk) 01:19, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

I repeat again, this is not our call to make. It's called Early Modern Irish in the linguistics literature outside Wikipedia. It's used by Martin J. Ball in The Celtic Languages, by Donald MacAulay in The Celtic Languages, and by Paul Russell in An Introduction to the Celtic Languages. I don't have time to look for more sources right now, but the point is: whatever the deficiencies of this name, it is the most commonly used one. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 05:16, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not buying that one, Angr. Never in my life, reading Irish or Scottish medieval history, have I heard of this language being referred to as "Early Modern Irish"; either Irish, Gaelic or Classical Gaelic; the world that you move in may give you adifferent perspective, but despite the advantages of wikipedia spin-off sites, the thoroughly scientific Google test has Classical Gaelic beat Early Modern Irish by 1930 to 1490. I don't think this one is really covered by the usual "follow usage" arguments. And would you seriously tell me that people actually use the term "Early Modern Irish" to refer to Scottish Gaelic in the same time period? I seriously doubt that's very common anywhere. Given the inaccuracy of the term too, I'd have thought the principle you carry into topics such as Franz Josef Strauß would have put you more in our camp than your current one. Regards, Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 06:16, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
Just to clarify, scholars of Scottish Gaelic simply do not ever refer to the language of the late medieval and early modern Highlands as "Early Modern Irish", so keeping this term will mean the article would have to fork, this one dealing with the actual Irish language rather than all three combined.Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 06:22, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

"I repeat again, this is not our call to make. " - It is not our call to make but it is apparently your call to make and it is apparently only you who is allowed to decide which non-wikipedia references may be used. Classical/Common Gaelic is frequently used both in academic and popular works dealing with the history, the gaelic langauges and scottish gaelic specifically and it is a clearly superior name than the utterly misleading "Early Modern Irish". Quite why you seem so desperate to maintain an inappropriate name for the article, and needlessly so as more accurate names exist, i have no idea. siarach (talk) 12:38, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Obviously the University of Glasgow are fools for their use of "Classical Gaelic"/"Early Gaelic"/"Old Gaelic"/"Middle Gaelic" etc etc [1], [2], [3]. The University of Aberdeen surprised me by not using "Classical Gaelic" but rather referring to the language as "Early Modern Gaelic" (which is a new one for me but there you go) [4], the University of Edinburgh use "Early Medieval Gaelic" here while using both "Early Modern Irish" (and in doing so exposed me to it outwith Wikipedia for the first time) and "Early Modern Gaelic" here and frequently mix use of older nomenclature (Middle Irish etc) with the new and more accurate (Middle Gaelic etc) as we can see here and here while here they use Classical Gaelic (it seems the Embra types cant quite decide what name to stick with). siarach (talk) 13:45, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
You'll notice Professor Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh running the Glasgow Introduction to Classical Gaelic course. Roibeard Ó Maolalaigh is someone cited in this article already; as a point of interest, I've heard him say (in his Irish accent) in a lecture last year that using Irish instead of Gaelic is "Hibernocentric". Just a point of interest. Even Irish scholars of professor rank think are prepared to call it such. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 13:52, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
There are also numerous uses of the correct "Gaelic" instead of Irish in literature although the only ones i have to hand atm are Derick Thomsons Companion to Gaelic Scotland which refers to the language as "Classical Common Gaelic" and Gàir nan Clàrsach - The Harps' Cry by Colm Ó Baoill (as with Ó Maolalaigh note the name) who calls it "Classical standard Gaelic". siarach (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 14:12, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
+Derick Thomson An Introduction to Gaelic Poetry = Classical Common Gaelic
+McLeod and Bateman Duanaire na Sracaire: Anthology of Medieval Gaelic Poetry = Old Gaelic, Middle Gaelic, Modern Gaelic (inc "Early Modern Gaelic") and Common Gaelic

—Preceding unsigned comment added by An Siarach (talkcontribs) 14:35, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

+St. Francis Xavier University uses "Classical Gaelic" as seen here —Preceding unsigned comment added by An Siarach (talkcontribs) 15:24, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Angr, you mentioned "An Nua-Ghaeilge Chlasaiceach" - now that means literally "The Classical Neo-Gaelic". Gaeilge is just a modern spelling of Gaedhilge, which means Gaelic language... not necessarily just Irish. I'm afraid it is our call to make. Some sources have been provided, and by this stage of time, the language was being spoken in Scotland and the Isle of Man, so was hardly just Irish anymore. In fact, it would have been in both other countries for hundreds of years. --MacRusgail (talk) 18:13, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Google results[edit]

Okay, let's do a reality check, using Google Books and Google Scholar (which separates the wheat from the chaff a lot better than ordinary Google)
  • Google Books
371 hits for "Early Modern Irish" language
194 hits for "Classical Irish" language
134 hits for "Classic Gaelic" language
23 hits for "Early Modern Gaelic" language
22 hits for "Classical Common Gaelic" language
1 hit for "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic"
  • Google Scholar
295 hits for "Early Modern Irish" language
74 hits for "Classical Irish" language
45 hits for "Classical Gaelic" language
10 hits for "Early Modern Gaelic" language
10 hits for "Classical Common Gaelic" language
1 hit for "Hiberno-Scottish Gaelic"
Thus, at Google Books, "Early Modern Irish" gets almost as many hits as all five other options put together, and the two names using "Irish" put together get more than three times as many hits as the three names using "Gaelic" put together. At Google Scholar, "Early Modern Irish" gets more than twice as many hits as all five other options put together. It is clear what the predominant name for this language is in the linguistic literature. I'd say "Classical Irish" and "Classical Gaelic" are common enough to be mentioned in parentheses as a "sometimes called". —Angr If you've written a quality article... 19:26, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Lets not mention the fact that "Early Modern Irish" is, as shown by the results of Googling the term, very ambiguous and results in hits for Early Modern Irish History, Early Modern Irish society etc etc thus inflating the number of hits while "Classical Gaelic" has no such ambiguity. siarach (talk) 19:42, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

"Angr, you mentioned "An Nua-Ghaeilge Chlasaiceach" - now that means literally "The Classical Neo-Gaelic". Gaeilge is just a modern spelling of Gaedhilge, which means Gaelic language... not necessarily just Irish. I'm afraid it is our call to make" Exactly. As both "Classical Gaelic" and similar terms are commonly used by both major institutions and frequently in relevant publications and since the same is true of "Early Modern Irish" it is up to us to decide which is used as the heading. Classical Gaelic is ethnically and geographically neutral and accurate and while "Early Modern Irish" is, regardless of how often it may be used by those in Ireland or those who deal with the Irish language, misleading and simply downright invalid. Irish is Gaelic but Gaelic is not Irish. No Gael ever referred to their language as "Irish" in that language. All Gaels whether native to Scotland, Ireland, Man, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia or wherever and whether they lived in the 20th century, 15th, 8th or whenever have ALWAYS referred to their language as "Gaelic" (by whatever variation of spelling) in that language and this is the term that should be used for pan-Gaelic articles. siarach (talk) 20:02, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I added the term "language" to the searches to cut down on the false positives. Perusing the results reveals that it is indeed the language that is referred to most of the time. Now, "Classical Gaelic" is very rare in comparison to "Early Modern Irish" and is used predominantly by Scottish scholars, whereas "Early Modern Irish" is used not only by Irish scholars but also by English, American, etc., scholars. The other problem with the term "Gaelic" is that is widely used in English today to refer exclusively to Scottish Gaelic; when applied to Irish it feels distinctly archaic and sometimes somewhat derogatory. Irish speakers do in fact usually refer to their language as "Irish", not "Gaelic". Moving this article to "Classical Gaelic" would therefore not only be using a term that is comparatively rare, it would also suggest that the article was discussing the language of Scotland, which is untrue since it describes the language of the Irishman Geoffrey Keating and the Irish Grammatical Tracts (google that term, and compare the results to those for "Gaelic grammatical tracts"). —Angr If you've written a quality article... 20:41, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
"Gaelic" is indeed more commonly used in English in reference to Scottish Gaelic. Does this change the fact that Irish is Gaelic? No. Does this change the fact that all Gaelic languages are known by their own speakers in those languages as Gaelic? No. Quite frankly i dont think Classical Gaelic is 'very rare in comparison to "Early Modern Irish" unless you make a point of reading only obscure linguistics books dealing exclusively with the Irish language.
As for some Irish people finding the english rendering of the native name of their language to be derogatory - i can understand why but their nationalistic insecurities (which are hilariously prominent on pages such as this, Lough Neagh and British Isles) are no reason why wikipedia articles should be tainted by misleading and inaccurate nomenclature which favours their wishful thinking over hard, objective fact. siarach (talk) 01:08, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Angr, no-one calls the language of the late medieval and early modern Highlands "Early Modern Irish"; and you've already had an American scholar of Scottish Gaelic Michael Newton tell you pretty much that on your talk page. "Early Modern Irish" is a Goidelic language spoken in Ireland, not Scotland and Mann; anything else is far more archaic and far more offensive than calling "Irish" "Gaelic", which is closer to what actual Irish speakers call it in their own language. This page will have to "fork". Even Kenneth Jackson, pretty much the father figure of the Hibernocentric "Common Gaelic" ideology, thought the two languages were separate by the 11th century:
I believe the two remained substantially identical , in fact, a single language, until at least the tenth century, and in most respects, the thirteenth.
Jackson also thought Middle Irish was the language of Ireland, but used the term Common Gaelic for the collectivity, Middle Irish only by extension not fact:
The oldest documents in the Gaelic of Scotland are the notitiae in the Book of Deer written in the language of the upper classes of Buchan in the middle of the twelfth century ... In almost every respect, however, their language is identical with contemporary Middle Irish, that is to say, it is the ordinary spoken Common Gaelic of the time, and they form a valuable pooof that as yet Common Gaelic was a substantial unity
At any rate, titles designed not to offend some Irish people are hardly appropriate if by result they end up offending Scots. I think what's going on is that many general lingustic scholars are interested in Irish Gaelic, and are happy for the Early Modern Irish or Classical Irish title. Because of some ideology of pan-Gaelicism and perceived similiaries, the title is being extended on wikipedia to include Scottish Gaelic, which no-one who studied Scottish Gaelic would do.

Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 04:11, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

What is or is not offensive to either Scottish people or Irish people is irrelevant. The statement, "All Gaels ... have ALWAYS referred to their language as 'Gaelic'" is both irrelevant and wrong ("Gaelic" is an English word, so Gaelic/Irish speakers didn't use it; they used Gaoidhealg and related forms). The argument that calling the language "Irish" somehow suggests it was not spoken outside Ireland is fallacious and highly indicative of what An Siarach calls "nationalistic insecurities"; but it too is irrelevant. All that is relevant for this page is what things are most commonly called in English, and the language in question is most commonly called "Early Modern Irish" in English. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 09:22, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
What is or is not offensive to either Scottish people or Irish people is irrelevant.
That's not what you seemed to think when you brought the following in as a supporting argument:
when applied to Irish it feels distinctly archaic and sometimes somewhat derogatory.
Like I told to you before, [virtually] no-one calls the language of the late medieval and early modern Highlands "Early Modern Irish". "Irish" is, well, Irish, not Scottish; 'cause of the Dal Riata Pictland crap, Old and Middle Irish are prolly usable, for this it certainly isn't. So remaining at this title the article will have to fork. Something like Early Modern Irish (mention that it's also used sometimes to refer to all Gaelic dialects and languages in the period), Classical Scottish Gaelic/Classical Gaelic and Common Gaelic (needs an article anyways). The problem is not that Early Modern Irish isn't used to refer to the Goidelic dialects of late medieval and early modern Ireland (well, that should be a problem as late medieval is not "early modern"), but that the article gives the impression that this term is in general use for Scottish and Manx dialects, which certainly it isn't. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 09:40, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Looking through the linguistics literature available on google books and scholar, I'm not sure we have all that much of the problem we seem to think we have. It seems that "Middle Irish" is used as a cut off point by most for Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic; so really here the problem is conflating the idea of literary Common Gaelic with post-Middle Irish phases of Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 10:04, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
"That's not what you seemed to think when you brought the following in as a supporting argument". I was distracted by the original irrelevant argument that the name "Irish" is offensive to Scottish Gaelic speakers, and thus made an equally irrelevant argument myself, for which I apologize. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 10:25, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

"The statement, "All Gaels ... have ALWAYS referred to their language as 'Gaelic'" is both irrelevant and wrong ("Gaelic" is an English word, so Gaelic/Irish speakers didn't use it; they used Gaoidhealg and related forms)."

It is neither irrelevant or wrong. Il admit i chuckled when i read the above nonsense. Having seen Angrs tendency for nitpicking i had wondered if he would make such a ridiculous riposte but thought that, even by his pedantic standards this would be too much. If only. What is the word “Gaelic” ? It is, of course, the word “Gàidhlig”/ “Gaeilge”/”Gaoidhealg” put in anglicised form having been brought in to the English language. Gaelic/Gàidhlig/Gaelg/Gaeilge/Goidelc/Gaoidhealg etc etc are all the same word, simply different spellings in different dialects (Scottish,Irish,Manx etc), or, in the case of Gaelic, a distinct language(English). But of course you know this already Angr but god forbid you allow honest, clear debate to cloud the issue eh? I mean honestly i would find this pretty laughable from any user but from somebody with a linguistics background it is conscious obtuse dishonesty plain and simple.

"That's not what you seemed to think when you brought the following in as a supporting argument". I was distracted by the original irrelevant argument that the name "Irish" is offensive to Scottish Gaelic speakers, and thus made an equally irrelevant argument myself, for which I apologize."

Who used "“Irish” is offensive to Scottish Gaelic speakers" as an argument? Certainly not me. Did anyone? I can well understand it might seem easier to win debates when you concoct the supposed arguments of your oppenents regardless of what they have actually said but ìm afraid thats not the way it works old boy. What i did point out is the fact that your chosen usage of "Irish" is wrong, plain and simple. You are the only one who has raised the fact that X people might not especially like one usage over an other as a form of argument.

Anyway its pretty clear debating this is a waste of tìme (ìm still shaking my head at the sheer gall and blatant pedantry of “Gaelic” is an English word...”) so we may as well just put it to a vote. siarach (talk) 12:00, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the discussion was Move.

Early Modern IrishClassical Gaelic — Both names seem to be frequently used in literature and by major relevant institutions. However only one of them is appropriate for the subject matter and is not crippled by an inappropriate nationalistic/ethnic association. Early Modern Irish is not an appropriate name for a form of language which was used extensively by non-Irish Gaels. Gaelic is the correct English rendering of the native name used by both Scots(Gàidhlig) and Irish(Gaeilge) to refer to their languages and is the correct English rendering of "Gaoidhealg" the contemporary, native, term used within Classical Gaelic/Early Modern Irish to refer to itself. Classical Gaelic is, unlike Early Modern Irish, unambiguous and ethnically, geographically and politically neutral and covers both Scottish and Irish languages. —siarach (talk) 12:52, 19 January 2008 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's naming conventions.
  • Oppose; whether Early Modern Irish is an "appropriate" name for the language isn't the issue. Whether the term "Classical Gaelic" is actually "not crippled by an inappropriate nationalistic/ethnic association" and is actually as "unambiguous and ethnically, geographically and politically neutral" as An Siarach would have us believe is highly doubtful, but the point is irrelevant anyway. As shown by the #Google results above, Early Modern Irish is (by far) the most commonly used name for the language in English, which is the criterion by which Wikipedia articles are named. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 13:24, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support; all reasons provided in previous discussion siarach (talk) 13:28, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support Despite the advantages of wikipedia spin-off sites, the not very scientific Google test has Classical Gaelic beat Early Modern Irish by 1930 to 1490, suggestive at least that the issue is ambiguous. Many if not most of the google scholar/book results cited by Angr above actually only refer to the Early Modern Irish version of Classical Gaelic, whereas large chunks of this article seem to suggest that the topic being covered is Classical Gaelic as a whole, not just Early Modern Irish "Irish". The reasons the two aren't always distinguished even by some scholars who believe Scottish and Irish Gaelic had already separated, is frankly lazy Hibernocentrism, with its origins in the utter domination of study-able Irish Gaelic literary sources from the Gaelic world in the Classical period, the Hibernocentrism of late medieval Scottish Gaels themselves, and with the combined forces of Irish nationalism and Scottish Teutonism which peripheralised Scottish Gaelic even more after the 18th century. Simply put, as stated above, the language of the late medieval and early modern Scottish Highlands is not called Early Modern Irish, and nothing late medieval is "early modern". That said, I don't want my vote to be interpreted as a precedent for forbidding separate treatment of Early Modern Irish, if and when that is deemed necessary. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 13:42, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
    • See Early Modern English; or do you wish to argue that the Wars of the Roses are not medieval? Modern is used back until the language becomes difficult for users of the present form, and that's a question of linguistic fact, not historical era. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
      • Awful comparison, Pmanderson. Saying that something from the 13th century is Early Modern is just silly, and tells you something about the people who invented the term. Here we've got other options, and we're not stuck with it. There's nothing wrong with "Classical" here; as far as I'm aware, no-one other than you has ever thought the term "classical" inappropriate here. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 18:09, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
          • Early Modern German, if our article is correct, goes back to the 14th century. All this means is that using Modern = "since Columbus" is not appropriate in all contexts. So what? I'm a classicist; I'm used to using modern = "since the Fall of Rome". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:44, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose. Try "utterly unscientific Google test". Since the last paragraph of the article says that Scottish Gaelic lacks a non-trivial and distinctive feature of this language, the existence of a single language is debatable (and most unlikely unless there was a dominant high culture, which seems implausible for, say, the sixteenth century). We should avoid loaded terms like Classical, unless, as with Greek, they are unquestionably consensus usage. Septentrionalis PMAnderson
I dont see what's loaded about the term "classical". "Classical Gaelic" is a term used by major universities and very frequently in literature. There isnt a consensus in usage or there wouldnt be a vote ongoing. Both "Early modern Irish" and "classical Gaelic" are used by universities and both are used in published works. However while the former is ambiguous and explicitly uses an inappropriately national piece of nomenclature the latter carries no ambiguity and uses the term "Gaelic" which is the English rendering of the native name for every Gaelic language (Irish: Gaeilge; Scottish Gàidhlig; Manx Gaelg) and is cognate to the older form of these words used as a name for the language with which the article is concerned - Classical Gaelic: Gaoidhealg. Classical/Common Gaelic was not used exclusively in Ireland or by Irish Gaelic speakers and thus certainly should not be termed "Early Modern Irish" or any other kind of "Irish" when it is quite simply a form of Gaelic shared by the Gaels of Great Britain and of Ireland. siarach (talk) 11:09, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support per my comments elsewhere on this page. --MacRusgail (talk) 22:30, 31 January 2008 (UTC)


Any additional comments:

I'm not a big fan of votes - the good lose more often than they should - but if you think a vote request is in order at this stage, you might wanna do a WP:RM, which will carry more authority. Regards, Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 12:46, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

  • I'd ideally like the 3/4 article solution, Early Modern Irish/Early Modern Scottish Gaelic (about the two languages in the post-Middle Irish/Gaelic, pre-Modern Goidelic period), Common Gaelic (the scholarly idea about diversion or lack of it) and Classical Gaelic (the literary elite language of the period). This though requires someone to write 'em, but is at least better than steamrollering many ideas with one just because a few scholars are lazy. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 13:51, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
At first i wasnt a big fan of that idea but the more i think about it the more appropriate it seems. siarach (talk) 10:54, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Some quotes:

  • Even in the better attested Early Modern period (twelfth to seventeenth century) the extant manuscript literature [of Scotland] uses the pan-Gaelic educated dialect ‘Classical Irish’, in which vernacularisms are, in general, rare, although the early sixteenth-century Book of the Dean of Lismore offers a glimpse of the extent to which one (Perthshire) dialect had developed by then. (William Gillies, "Scottish Gaelic", in M.J. Ball, ed., The Celtic Languages, p. 145)
  • Indeed, the Gaelic literature of Scotland between the 12th and 17th centuries was written in a standardized form of Early Modern Irish with little or no hint of the underlying spoken language... The only exception is the Book of the Dean of Lismore... (Paul Russell, An Introduction to the Celtic Languages, p. 27)

I would point out that Gillies is Scottish and Russell is English with a primary interest in Welsh, so neither of them can be called "Irish nationalists" or "Hibernocentric", and yet both do clearly use the word "Irish" in reference to the written Goidelic language of Scotland up to the 17th century. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 20:17, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

And if both of them mention the Book of the Dean of Lismore as exceptional, so should we. But the mention of a standard educated language is of some interest. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:05, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes and as we've already seen there are Irish professors who use "Classical Gaelic". They may be scottish but that doesnt mean theyre are incapable of using hibernocentric nomenclature. Lack of use is not an issue with either term. What is an issue is whether or not Early Modern Irish is a more appropriate term than Classical Gaelic. Quite simply nobody with a knowledge of either the relevant history or of the relevant languages can objectively, or reasonably, take the position that Early Modern Irish is a superior term to Classical Gaelic. Irish is Gaelic but Gaelic is not Irish. The modern languages are Gaelic. The historical forms were/are Gaelic. The shared literary form is Gaelic. "Irish" has nothing going for it unless you have a thing for inaccurate and misleading nomenclature. siarach (talk) 21:58, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
No, whether or not Early Modern Irish is a more "appropriate" term is not an issue, since that cannot be decided in an NPOV way. The issue is what is the most commonly used term in English, and that is the term "Early Modern Irish" (which is neither inaccurate nor misleading, since there's nothing inherent in the word "Irish" that precludes it having been used outside Ireland--after all, the vast majority of Old Irish is attested in manuscripts from the Continent). —Angr If you've written a quality article... 22:05, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Well if we're going with most commonly used in English its (as Deacon has shown) Classical Gaelic which, when Wikipedia and the mirror site are ommitted from the search, has more results than "Early Modern Irish" despite the ambiguity of "Early Modern Irish" which sees it frequently used in more than linguistic contexts. As for "Old Irish" that is no more "Irish" than is Classical Gaelic or Middle Gaelic. However that is (unlike "Early Modern Irish") clearly the term generally used for that historical stage of Gaelic even though "Old Gaelic" is a superior name and becoming increasingly common. Anyway the other forms of historical Gaelic are not an issue here. The issue can vary well be decided in an NPOV way. We have two competing terms. Both used by universities. Both used in literature. One is inappropriately named as it uses a specifically national piece of nomenclature while the language was pan-Gaelic and not exclusively Irish. The other term is appropriate for the entire area in which the language was used as it uses a nation-neutral piece of nomenclature which applies to every Gaelic language, is the cognate of the name used within those languages to refer to themselves and each other and of all known historical forms; Gaelic. It is not a matter of POV but of being capable of rationally processing historical and linguistic fact and deciding upon which is the better, more accurate, more appropriate title. This is not something new to wikipedia and of course users have made choices similar to this when there are competing terms or titles within or for an article. Actually its a good thing you raise NPOV. While it is most certainly a dubious POV that all Gaelic languages are Irish it is not a matter of debate that all Gaelic languages are, well, Gaelic. siarach (talk) 22:21, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Angr, those quotes, I think you've succeeded in missing the fact that neither of them are using the term to refer to the Scottish Gaelic of the era. To imply that Gillies endorses the term (he certainly doesn't) when he has put scare quotes around it is ... well ... an honest mistake? Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 18:14, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Both quotes use the term to refer to the written (Goidelic) language of Scotland at the time; whether that language qualifies as "the Scottish Gaelic of the era" is open to interpretation (by "the Scottish Gaelic of the era" do you mean the spoken as opposed to written language?), but it's certainly the language I envisioned this article to be about when I started it a year ago. As for Gillies's quotation marks, I don't interpret them as scare quotes but rather as serving to identify a newly introduced technical term. The fact that he chose to call it "Classical Irish" when he could and, by An Siarach's reasoning, even should have called it "Classical Gaelic", especially considering he was writing an article called "Scottish Gaelic", tells me he definitely does endorse the term. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 19:57, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Both quotes carry the underlying assumption that Gaelic is a different term from "Classical/Early Modern" "Irish", which hardly helps you build a thesis that they're the same. "Early Modern Irish" is described as a Gaelic dialect, which Scots used in contrast to a "vernacular". So they certainly do not support the contention that an article on "Early Modern Irish" covers all goidelic languages until the 17th/18th century. BTW, unless the author had a very low opinion of his reader, I don't think "Classical Irish" is likely to be seen as a technical term. Gillies is scare quoting it because he thinks it's a spurious term, prolly for the same reasons An Siarach and GaelicMichael have outlined already. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 13:10, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I doubt that, because he continues to use the term Classical Irish without quotation marks in the rest of the article. And it's An Siarach, not me, who is trying to build the thesis that Early Modern Irish can be re-named Classical Gaelic without a change in reference. I'm quite content for this article to discuss only the language used in Ireland. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 15:33, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


I agree with Angr that "Early Modern Irish" is by far the most commonly used term in English for this particular stage in the development of the Goidelic language(s), as is borne out in the volume of linguistic literature on the topic. I personally had never heard of "Classical Gaelic" or "Classical Common Gaelic" until I came here but I think An Siarach and Deacon have supplied sufficient evidence to show that Scottish Gaels, at least, use these terms regularly. I can understand how Scottish Gaels would be annoyed at the use of "Irish" for a language which they quite rightly feel is as much theirs as ours. Studies of Goidelic languages and dialects have certainly been overly hibernocentric in scope. I take Siarach's point about all of the various forms which speakers use to name their own language being essentially one and the same thing at the end of the day. (Incidentally, my family, my various relations and I, being from the Cork and Kerry Gaeltachtaí use only "Gaelainn" or "Gaelaing" never "Gaeilge", it being the Connacht form). However, as an Irish speaker, I find the term "Gaelic" being used in English to describe my own language uncomfortable at best. I don't believe this to be our fault as Goidelic speakers. Unfortunately, a small but vociferous body of anti-Irish language bigots have made "Gaelic", by insisting on using it instead of "Irish", a term which most Irish speakers dislike and avoid. I also see nothing wrong with calling the language as spoken here in Ireland "Irish". I believe very strongly that I am Irish and that my country is Ireland because of the Irish language. Certainly, way back, the Irish language and the Goidelic languages were one and the same thing until Scottish and Manx evolved to a stage where they could be called distinct languages in their own right.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Might it be possible to compromise by calling the article "Early Modern Irish/Classical Common Gaelic" or even mentioning that it's commomly called "Classical Common Gaelic" by Scottish Gaels or even call it "Common Classical Goidelic" or "Classical Goidelic"? I'm also thinking of a compromise on the lines of "Serbo-Croat". It would be sheer lunacy having two articles for the same thing. I agree with Angr that renaming the article as "Classical Common Gaelic" would merely cause problems for those who might come on here looking for "Early Modern Irish" and fail to find it. An Muimhneach Machnamhach (talk) 22:11, 29 February 2008 (UTC)


I'm amazed that this article has been highjacked so successfully by politically correct POV pushers.

Sure it doesn't sit well with Scottish Gaelic speakers to use the word Irish, but in my experience that's overwhelmingly the words that's been used in the literature, right or wrong. It is not Wikipedia's place to push agendas or to correct the world in it's vocabulary. We are supposed to follow the forms used in the literature. Wikipedia is not about truth!

I also find it hard to see how the morass of argument above amounts to any kind of rational decision. There is little evidence of an attempt to reach consensus or willingness to compromise either.

In an attempt to return this article to some proximity to reality, I've added an acknowledgment that another term is also used. Please don't do a knee-jerk revert. Angr has already shown this is used in the literature. It's not bold, it's in brackets, please stay calm!

Moilleadóir 08:59, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

I don't even understand why it bothers Scottish Gaelic speakers so much that earlier forms of their language are called "Irish". It doesn't bother Americans, Canadians, and Australians that their language is called "English" (it doesn't even bother English speakers in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland!). It doesn't bother Austrians and Swiss that their language is called "German". It doesn't bother Canadians, Belgians, and Swiss that their language is called "French". It doesn't bother Brazilians that their language is called "Portuguese" or most of the rest of Latin Americans that their language is called "Spanish". So why do the Scots get their knickers in a twist (or would if they were wearing any under their kilts) that the language that was brought to Scotland from Ireland is called in its various stages "Old Irish", "Middle Irish", "Early Modern Irish", and (formerly) "Erse"? —Angr 13:30, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Angr, I believe there is more than a little political ideology involved here. I have no idea how many Scottish Gaels object to terms such as "Classical Irish, "Old Irish" etc. but one must always remember that while Gaelic Scotland resembles Gaelic Ireland very closely in some ways, it is vastly different in other ways. The heart of Gaelic-speaking Scotland today lies in the Outer Hebrides the inhabitants of which are predominantly of the Free Presbyterian faith and are strongly unionist in outlook. Some, perhaps many, of these Free Presbyterians are virulently anti-Roman Catholic, and perhaps view "Irish" and "Catholic" as two sides of the same coin. As an Irishman, I find this very confusing that one can speak Gaelic and also be virulently anti-nationalist but I must remember that the respective histories of Ireland and Scotland have gone down two very different paths. I've heard it said that in an independent Scotland, the people of the Highlands and Islands fear that they would be dominated by lowlanders. Scotland is essentially three nations in one, or at least was three nations in one, which has caused the Scots problems in forging a single national identity. I believe there is an underlying insecurity about acknowledging the fact that Scottish Gaelic evolved from Old Irish, on the basis that Scottish Gaels were discriminated against for centuries and labelled as being "Irish" or "Erse". It is bizarre that today in Scotland, "Scots" refers not to Scottish Gaelic but to a form of English. At the end of the day, we're just talking about labels. There is no doubt that Scottish Gaelic and Modern Irish both evolved out of an earlier form of Goidelic. Whether Irish and Scottish Gaelic are really separate "languages", is, in my opinion, purely subjective. However, both Scottish Gaelic and Manx owe their origins to the language spoken in Ireland and I therefore see nothing wrong with the term "Old Irish". However, I would support a compromise term such as "Old Goidelic" if enough people supported it and used it. An Muimhneach Machnamhach (talk) 01:00, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Well its true that cultural differences between the Hebrides and modern Ireland play a part in the distaste for the word Irish, but there is also the fact that "Scottis" has more authenticity for the medieval language of the Gaels than Irish does. Even a Catholic Republican Scottish Gaelic speaker would have difficulty with the concept that "Irish" was the correct name for the language in which much of their national literature was written. It might be the current consensus name for the older form of the language, but it certainly wasnt at the time when it was spoken, and this needs to made clear in any article covering that language, whatever name is used for it.
Ps, anti Republican Lowland Scots speakers, are often the first in Scotland to refer to scottish Gaelic as an "Irish language" and much of the anathema in scotland against the word Irish for the language has got more to do with this than with any opinion they might or might not have regarding Ireland. (talk) 15:45, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

Sigh. I was going to take issue with several of the points raised but why bother -theyve been dealt with at length and refuted (where refutation was required) or explained away previously. I'll take issue with a couple of irritatingly silly bits though:

I don't even understand why it bothers Scottish Gaelic speakers so much that earlier forms of their language are called "Irish". It doesn't bother Americans, Canadians, and Australians that their language is called "English" (it doesn't even bother English speakers in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland!).

Its not that hard ot understand. The colonial nations of the Anglosphere (and of the historically Celtic nations in the British Isles) dont mind their language being called "English" becuase English is exactly what it is. Scottish Gaelic, however, is not Irish anymore than French is Italian or than English is German. Gaels are defined by their Gaelic language (not Anglo-Centric ideas of nationality and ethnicity) and Gaelic (Gaidhlig/Gaeilge/Gaelg/Goidelc etc etc) is what they have always called this language. "Irish" on the other hand is a foreign, English, word which was (incorrectly) used to describe the Gaelic of Scotland (and then with certain politically motivated purpose by Anglo-Scots) for a brief period of history from about the 16th century to late 18th or so when when prior to the 16th century Gaelic was correctly known as "Scottish", which is what it was and still is, and since the 18th century it has generally come to be referred to within Scotland simply as "Gaelic".

There is indeed a problem with the politically motivated highjacking of nomenclature with regard to this topic but it is mostly by the Irish language lobby (far more powerful than its Scottish equivalent) who use foreign words and (ironically) anglo-centric ideas and perspectives to inaccurately and anachronistically describe the historic forms of Gaelic - which were spoken across half the British Isles and not just Ireland - and indeed on occasion all modern forms of Gaelic as "Irish". But anyway that is neither here nor there. As the earlier discussion and vote has shown quite clearly "Classical Gaelic" is at least as well attested as "Classical Irish" in literature, by the leading Universities and online. Indeed the online searches showed (by Deacon) that Classical Gaelic returned more hits than Classical Irish despite "early modern Irish"/"classical irish" etc having the great advantage of ambiguity compared to "classical Gaelic".

Muimhneach Machnamhach - your hypothesis regarding the attitudes of Gaels in Scotland is thoughtful and well considered and absolutely wrong.

However, both Scottish Gaelic and Manx owe their origins to the language spoken in Ireland and I therefore see nothing wrong with the term "Old Irish".

Well lets see some consistency then. You will similarly see nothing wrong with the French, Romanian, Portugese, Catalan, Castillian languages (and all other Romance dialects) being traced back not to "Latin" but to "Old Italian". Of course it matters nothing that "Latin" is the genuine name of the ancestral language of Romance languages (just as "Goidelc" - or in modern spelling "Gaelic" - is the genuine name for the ancestral form of Gaelic which has come to be referred to in modern times as "Old Irish" by English speakers) and that this was the name used by the speakers of the language itself. Of course it matters nothing that speakers of French, Romanian etc etc do not consider themselves or their language to be Italian and never have done. English is of course going by your line of thinking German - indeed one should go one step further and class it ultimately as a dialect of Swedish as all Germanic peoples first migrated southwards from Scandinavia. This type of classification for all languages would of course be ridiculous and hugely controversial which is why we dont generally see it. However for various historical reasons - prominent and aggressive Irish language lobby/Irish language academia, the lack of a similar body for Gaelic in Scotland combined with the historical hangover of English speaking antagonism towards Scottish Gaelic and the (largely successful) efforts to disassociate it from national identity and Scottish history by describing it instead as something foreign "Erse"/"Irish" - we have this ridiculous situation where a modern piece of nomenclature relating to a specific nation/people (Irish) is inaccurately and anachronistically used to describe a language/dialects of language spoken across a far greater area than that to which the term is actually related (Ireland) and spoken by peoples who did not historically and do not consider themselves as Irish. siarach (talk) 17:37, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

It's also the case that the entire basis of the Irish origin theory for Gaelic is using early medieval origin tales as factual history. The same tales used for this speak of Gaelic coming from Greece via Spain, though for some reason that's taken less seriously. :o Ah well, c'est a vie. The likeliest linguistic reality (by sickeningly absurd margin when you think about it) is that the entire British Isles was one great Celtic dialect continuum right into the Early Middle Ages, something that I suppose never really changed, as Ulster Gaelic and Hebridean Gaelic are as close to each other as they are to other dialects at opposite ends of their respective countries, many of which are now extinct. Deacon of Pndapetzim (Talk) 18:20, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
Except, of course, that we have actual historical writings and not just legends which lead us to conclude that Irish was restricted to Ireland in the Primitive Irish period (at least in the 5th century; while the language spoken in Scotland was Pictish and, if anything, far closer to British – a dialect continuum at the time being very unlikely, Irish probably having diverged from British since at least the 1st century, isolated by the Irish Sea) – and spread by the Scoti (which neatly explains why Gaelic was initially confined to the coast of Britain facing Ireland, and why ogham inscriptions, especially Primitive Irish, inscriptions outside Ireland are so rare and are usually found at coasts, almost exclusively the western coasts, where the Scoti raided) in essentially the same manner as the Vikings spread Old Norse. Which is therefore academic consensus (explaining the preference to call the language Irish) and your position that "Gaelic has always (or at least ever since the journey of Pytheas) been spoken in Scotland" is distinctly WP:FRINGE (and suspiciously sounding like any nationalistic claim ever, might I add). *sigh* --Florian Blaschke (talk) 17:46, 29 September 2012 (UTC)