McEwan-Fujita, Emily (2010) Review of Celtic Presence: Studies in Celtic Languages and Literatures: Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish. Piotr Stalmaszczyk. Łódź: Łódź University Press, 2005. In e-Keltoi: Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic

McEwan-Fujita, Emily (2010) Review of Celtic Presence: Studies in Celtic Languages and Literatures: Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Cornish. Piotr Stalmaszczyk. Łódź: Łódź University Press, 2005. In e-Keltoi: Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies.
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   e-Keltoi Book Reviews Volume 1: 31-35© UW System Board of Regents ISSN 1540-4889 onlineDate Published: January 29, 2010 Celtic Presence: Studies in Celtic Languages and Literatures: Irish,Scottish Gaelic and Cornish . Piotr Stalmaszczyk. Łódź: Łódź University Press, Poland, 2005. Hardcover, 197 pages. ISBN: 978-83-7171-849-6. $36.00. Emily McEwan-Fujita ,   University of Pittsburgh  This book's central theme, as the author notes in the preface, is "dimensions of Celticlinguistic presence" as manifested in diverse sociolinguistic contexts. However, the concept of "linguistic presence" gives no coherence to this group of disjointed essays. In a traditional Celticstudies approach, the book covers both linguistic and literature topics. The linguistic topicsinclude Celtic lexical influence on local English varieties in present-day Ireland and Cornwalland the Cornish language revival in Cornwall, while the literature topics covered includecontemporary Scottish Gaelic poetry in Scotland, and a purported Celtic tendency in Irish,Scottish Gaelic and Welsh-language poetry and prose to highlight the importance of place andplacenames. Two sociolinguistic chapters make important points about how regional Englishvariants have been overlooked in the assessment of Celtic linguistic influence on English, andmany of the chapters provide primers on their respective topics, based on secondary sources.However, the literature chapters—and the book overall—uncritically conflate linguistic andcultural definitions of "Celtic," a problem of ongoing concern in Celtic studies (Nagy 2002:7).Chapter One, "Celtic Elements in English Vocabulary," starts by outlining the two basictheories of the evolution of the Celtic languages and setting the Celtic languages in the context of language contact with varieties of English in the British Isles. The author briefly reviews theprevalent idea that language contact resulted in a largely one-way English influence on Celticlanguages, and he then argues with reference to the research of David L. White that there was infact Brittonic influence on English. Stalmaszczyk argues that assessments of minimal Celticinfluence on English have mainly based their conclusions on the written Standard English in thesoutheast of England, and have failed to take into account Celtic influences on local and regionalEnglish variants. To further support this idea, the remainder of the chapter describes variousaspects of Celtic lexical influences on English, particularly regional English variants. Lists of examples of the more well known Celtic loanwords in English are given, broken down into thecategories of Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic from Latin, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, andBreton via French. Another section lists the most well known indirect borrowings fromContinental Celtic into English. The author concludes the chapter by advocating closer analysis    32 McEwan-Fujita of Celtic influences on local varieties and dialects of English, a position with which the revieweragrees, since ideologies of standard language have permeated academic inquiry to the extent thatthe standardized variety of a language is too often taken to be the only legitimate variety of alanguage worth study.Chapter Two, "The Lexicon of Irish English," continues with the theme of Celticinfluences on the   English lexicon, considering Irish ( Gaeilge ) influences on Irish English. Thechapter begins with a description and analysis of the various labels given to English in Ireland,including Irish English, Hiberno-English, and Anglo-Irish. For the remainder of his discussion,the author opts to use "Irish English" as both a hyperonym for all varieties of Irish English, and acover term for all English variants in Ireland except Ulster Scots (p. 41). Stalmaszczyk makesanother important point from a sociolinguistic perspective, arguing   that the formal examinationor recognition of Irish varieties of English has been relatively overlooked in Ireland, both instudies of Celtic influence on English and in official status. For example, he points out that IrishEnglish as such has no official status in Ireland; the only named varieties with official status are"Irish" ( Gaeilge ) and "English" (which is often assumed to mean Standard English). This isrelated to the point in Chapter One regarding how regional varieties of English are overlooked inthe assessment of Celtic linguistic influence on English; it provides the only thread of topicalcontinuity in the book, but is not emphasized sufficiently by the author.Following a review of the literature describing Irish English, and another discussion of terminology that contrasts "Irish literature" ( as Gaeilge ) with "Anglo-Irish literature" (inEnglish), the remainder of Chapter Two is taken up by an ordered discussion of selected Irishelements in Irish English vocabulary, beginning with a nine   page discussion of borrowings witha diminutive suffix ( -een being the most common element, which often expresses affection,contempt, or familiarity). Lists of the best-known examples of loanwords, hybrid forms, andderived forms are provided, which the author gleans from lexicographic evidence includingvarious dictionaries, lexicons, glossaries and descriptions of varieties of Irish English. Thedrawbacks of this approach, acknowledged by the author, include the problem that frequency of usage was not assessed for these loans, and the possibility that older ones may be outdated. Alsoincluded in the chapter as examples of Irish influence on Irish English are discussions of semantic conflation, loan translation, terms of endearment, and prepositional constructions. There is no apparent link between the first two chapters and Chapter Three, "ScottishGaelic Language and Literature in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries," which   focuses oncontemporary Gaelic poetry. Stalmaszczyk starts with a history of Gaelic in Scotland from theearliest times to the present, and a survey of Gaelic language shift and revitalization efforts. Thechapter then shifts abruptly to literature, with no effort to link to the sociolinguistic introduction. There is a brief and poorly organized summary of the historical background of Gaelic literaturein Scotland, beginning with the Book of the Dean of Lismore (1512-1526). The author choosesto focus on the genre of the brosnachadh catha or "battle incitement," tracing it up to thetwentieth century, then confusingly returning to a discussion of the seventeenth and nineteenthcenturies. He gives a brief account of the poetry of Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair asrepresentative of the eighteenth century, but unfortunately makes no mention of the nineteenthcentury (apart from a single sentence on Màiri Mhór nan Òran in the brosnachadh section).    Celtic Presence: Studies in Celtic Languages and Literature 33 The twentieth century Gaelic poetry section consists of brief biographies and discussionsof major influences and themes in the poetry of the "Big Five", Sorley MacLean, GeorgeCampbell Hay, Derick S. Thomson, Iain Crichton Smith, and Donald MacAulay (here I giveonly the English versions of their names). A final section on recent developments in poetrymentions some of the newer male Gaelic poets such as Christopher Whyte, but no female poetssuch as Meg Bateman. The main theme—not terribly insightful—is that contemporary Gaelicpoets differ from traditional ones in that they have become global in their outlook and the scopeof their topics. The analyses of poetry presented here represent only a digest, and provide no newinformation or insight that has not been previously published elsewhere. The reader in search of primary analysis of contemporary Scottish Gaelic poetry   would be advised to consult theintroductions to anthologies listed in the book’s bibliography, including Nua-BhàrdachdGàidhlig/Modern Scottish Gaelic Poems edited by Donald MacAulay (Edinburgh: Canongate1987 [1976]), and Ronald Black's An Tuil: An Anthology of Twentieth Century Scottish GaelicPoetry (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1999) , as well as more recent journal articles and book chapters byscholars such as Michel Byrne, Michelle MacLeod, and Moray Watson.Chapter Four, "History, Decline and ‘Revival’ of Cornish" contains only the mosttenuous link to Chapter Three; it begins with a brief history of "traditional" Cornish which isdivided into Primitive (AD 600-800), Old (800-1200), Middle (1200-1575), and Late (1575-1800)periods. Stalmaszczyk describes in some detail the Cornish texts produced in the Old, Middle,and Late periods while Cornish was a "traditional" spoken language, including the Christianreligious drama An Ordinalia Kernewek (The Cornish Ordinalia), a mystery cycle composed inthe late fourteenth century. The author describes the twentieth century discoveries of new MiddleCornish manuscripts and the contributions these have made to the understanding of traditionalCornish.A section on the decline and "death" of Cornish follows, and then a similar section on the"revival" of Cornish. As in most of the other chapters of the book, there is almost exclusivereliance on secondary sources, and a lack of theorization. The concise description of the avowedlinguistic bases of the various revived and reconstructed forms of Cornish is useful, since thereare so many competing claims to authenticity and accuracy—including Unified Cornish,Common Cornish ( Kernewek Kemmyn ), and Traditional Cornish (aka Modern VernacularCornish). However, the section lacks a theoretically-grounded discussion of language ideology (e.g., Payton 1997), which is what makes such "language wars" interesting from the point of view of socially-oriented studies of languages, such as in sociolinguistics or linguisticanthropology. The chapter ends with a final section on Cornish influence on the regional English of Cornwall, which has little to do with the rest of the chapter, but does relate to Chapters One and Two where the influences of Celtic linguistic elements on English in general and regionalEnglish variants in particular are discussed. In a footnote the author states that another Cornishlexical influence is found in Cornish placenames, which exceed the scope of this book, but adiscussion of these would have tied in well with Chapter Five.    34 McEwan-Fujita Chapter Five, "Names and Places in Celtic Literature" is the weakest chapter intheoretical terms. The author claims in Chapter One that "the term Celtic is used exclusively inlinguistic terms" throughout the book; in other words, describing a linguistic variety as "Celtic"indicates that the variety is structurally (linguistically) classified as Celtic, but makes no claimsabout the culture of the speakers. Likewise, under such a claim, describing a work of literature as"Celtic" would merely indicate that the work was composed in a linguistic variety classified asCeltic. However, a purely linguistic definition of "Celtic" is insufficient to justify the kind of literary analysis the author attempts here, which is to claim that "Celtic literature" is "saturated"with elements of landscape images and placenames. The author finds an expressive continuityacross wide stretches of time and space: from the Irish Dinnshenchas (AD 887-1079) and  TáinBó Cúailnge , to early Welsh literature and Scottish and Irish bardic poetry, to contemporaryScottish Gaelic poetry, and Brian Friel’s largely English-language play  Translations . But if thetrope of placenames is a commonality in "Celtic literature" as a whole, why is there no evidencegiven for Cornish or for Breton? The chapter ends up being little more than a collection of quotesfrom poetry and prose works bound together by assertions that placenames play an importantrole in each work quoted. The reasoning is circular: works display a concern with placenamesbecause they are Celtic, and they are Celtic because they display a concern with placenames.A quote from the contemporary Scottish Gaelic poet Donald MacAulay included in thechapter makes the real point of note about the material in the chapter: "In the Gaelic traditionthere are many poems and songs about places. These appear also in modern verse, though not insuch a high proportion and certainly to a different purpose …" (MacAulay 1987:49) (p. 15, myemphasis). In other words, many Scottish Gaelic speakers (and by extension Irish and Welshspeakers) have composed works about places in their native language in a way that indicates thatplaces and placenames for them are imbued with cultural as well as individual significance. Butthey have done so for different purposes in different times and places, and Celtic culturalcontinuity cannot be presupposed based solely on the use of a Celtic linguistic medium. A criticalapproach would require paying attention to inter-cultural variation in the use of language inliteratures composed in Celtic languages.Chapter 5 is frustrating (as indeed is the entire book), not least because of the author'sclaim that "I refrain from introducing any theoretical or interpretive framework but nevertheless Iintend to show the variety of functions place-names assume in literature (and culture)." Why not  introduce a theoretical framework? A purely descriptive work relying on primary sources mightbe able to succeed without one, but not a book that relies almost entirely on secondary sources.In fact, the author has brought in a theory from cultural geography, that place names are aconstitutive component of the landscape and a link between nature and culture, and that theybind society to its physical environment (pp. 136-137). The best that can be said of the book is that the chapters present compact and entirelyself-contained introductions to a group of very loosely related topics in Celtic languages andliteratures. Overall, they provide a useful collection and synthesis of classic and up-to-datesecondary sources on the linguistic evidence of contact between Celtic linguistic varieties andEnglish linguistic varieties, and the extensive influence of the former upon the latter. From thisperspective, the chapters could possibly be useful as survey-style course readings if augmentedwith discussions of theories that could be applied to the data. (In a side note, one minor    Celtic Presence: Studies in Celtic Languages and Literature 35annoyance of the book for the English language prescriptivist is the almost total lack of semicolons; throughout the book the author almost always joins two independent clauses with acomma.)However, the serious flaws of the book are its overall lack of cohesiveness, in both topicand theoretical agenda, its deliberate attempt to avoid theory and the subsequent lack of anysubstantial new conclusions, and the book’s participation in uncritical construction of theconcept of "Celtic-ness," with no reference to recent critiques of the concept from anthropology,archaeology, and Celtic studies itself (e.g., Chapman 1992; James 1999; Nagy 2002). As Maria Tymoczko notes in "What questions should we ask in Celtic studies in the new millennium?"(Tymoczko   2002), Celtic studies practitioners as a whole must re-orient from a nineteenth-century descriptivist focus to twentieth-century critical theoretical concepts drawn fromcontemporary humanities and social sciences, such as ideology and intertextuality. I also believethat when concerning themselves with the relationship between language and culture, Celticstudies scholars would do well to engage in a   dialogue with disciplines that focus on thisrelationship, such as linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics. Only in this way can Celticstudies survive and thrive in the twenty-first century. Bibliography Chapman, Malcolm1992.  The Celts: the Construction of a Myth . New York: St. Martin’s Press. James, Simon1999.  The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention? Madison: University of Wisconsin PressMacAulay, Donald, (ed.)1987 [1976]. Nua-Bhàrdachd Gàidhlig/Modern Scottish Gaelic Poems . Edinburgh: Canongate.Nagy, Joseph Falaky, (ed.)2002. Identifying the Celtic: CSANA Yearbook 2 . Dublin: Four Courts Press.Payton, Phillip1997. Identity, ideology and language in modern Cornwall. In Hildegard L. C. Tristram (ed.)  TheCeltic Englishes , pp. 100-122. Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitatsverlag. Tymoczko, Maria2002. What questions should we ask in Celtic studies in the new millennium? In Joseph Nagy(ed.) Identifying the Celtic: CSANA Yearbook 2 , pp. 10-29. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
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