Postdoctoral research: Dr Nicolai Egjar Engesland

Research Council of Norway Postdoctoral Fellow, 2022–2024.

A Digital Edition and Analysis of the Auraicept na nÉces

The Auraicept na nÉces is by far the richest surviving witness to Carolingian interest in the vernacular. In order for medieval scholars to reap the full benefits of this invaluable source, two steps are necessary. First, the text must be made available to Irish specialists and other medieval scholars in a reliable digital edition, including translation. Second, the prevalent, problematic dating of the text to the seventh/eighth century must be addressed and a thorough analysis of the text's connection to intellectual currents in the ninth century must be presented to the scholarly community.

The text is the earliest grammatical description of any European vernacular language. No comparable description of a vernacular is found in any European literature before we get the Icelandic First Grammatical Treatise towards the middle of the twelfth century and no similar defence of a vernacular is mounted before Dante Alighieri's defence of the Tuscan dialect in his De vulgari eloquentia at the turn of the fourteenth century. In short, the Auraicept na nÉces is a crucial document for our appraisal of Irish and European vernacular activity during the Early Middle Ages.

Due to its unique potential for informing our analysis of the Early Middle Ages, it is arguably the case that no other Old Irish text is in more need of an updated and thorough edition. Because of its European relevance, the edition must be accessible to scholars from a wide array of disciplines, with translation and commentary. A lengthy introduction to the text will produce the first integral analysis of the most prominent and least understood of all enterprises within the field of vernacular grammar in the Carolingian era.

Mentor: Dr Pádraic Moran

Research areas: cross-cultural encounters, Digital Humanities