Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

If Not Me, Who?

A few years back, I put together a webpage on medieval Irish poetry, mostly because I was researching the subject and couldn't find such a page myself. Not overly discouraged by the fact that I didn't know Irish, I pursued it with forks and hope. (And a tiiiiiiiiny Focloir Poca dictionary.)

It turned out to be just as rough a production as you'd expect from someone who had no idea what she was doing. I was unsatisfied with my translations. My explanation pages on the various forms were far too prolix. I developed a mental block on writing in any of the forms myself (which was my real reason for doing the research in the first place). I held a class on it at Pennsic and felt humiliated by my terrible pronunciation being exposed in public. And, if that weren't bad enough, I found that whatever reading comprehension I'd developed for Early Modern Irish (14th-16th century, IIRC) didn't help a bit when people sent me email in everyday Irish that didn't rhyme, scan, or rely heavily on the Irish word for "gold". I tried to get into grad school and remedy my ignorance, but nobody wanted me. You can only bang your head into a brick wall so long. So I gave up studying medieval Irish poetry and abandoned my page to its own devices, secure in the knowledge that somebody somewhere would soon put together something better for one of the great literary treasures of the world.

But they haven't. I did a websearch. There are a few pages which include the eeeeearly lyrics by the monks, but nothing definitive even there. The rest of Ireland's poetic history in its own language is a blank, until the modern era. With all the academics and Irish speakers and medieval hobbyists in the world, my horribly inadequate page is still the only general information page on the subject. Don't the academics have any pride? Why aren't they promoting their own literature?

I once got an email from someone who didn't think the Irish had a written language until the 1800s, until seeing my site. I was glad that I taught such people something, but honestly, I'm drastically underqualified for the task. But if those who can aren't doing it.... :(

Time to pull out the dang forks again. *grumble*


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