Approaching the Pictish language: historiography, early evidence and the question of Pritenic

Rhys, Guto (2015) Approaching the Pictish language: historiography, early evidence and the question of Pritenic. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The question of ‘the Pictish language’ has been discussed for over four hundred years, and for well over two centuries it has been the subject of ceaseless and often heated debate. The main disagreement focusing on its linguistic categorisation – whether it was Celtic, Germanic (using modern terminology) or whether it belonged to some more exotic language group such as Basque. If it was Celtic then was it Brittonic or Goidelic? The answer to such questions was of some importance in ascertaining to whom the Scottish past belonged. Was it to immigrant Irish, conquering Germanic peoples or native Britons? The twentieth century saw the normalising of the view that it was closely related to Brittonic with some erudite scholars maintaining that another, non-Celtic language, was also spoken in Pictland. The debate subsequently shifted to focusing on just how close was the relationship between Pictish and Neo-Brittonic. Was Pictish simply a northerly dialect variant of the latter or was it indeed a more distinct and perhaps conservative form, evolving independently in an area outwith Roman power and linguistic influence? Recently, as the field of Pictish studies was subjected to both linguistic and historical scrutiny, discussions have become significantly more sophisticated, but the core question remains, as to whether Pictish distinctiveness merits the label ‘dialect’ or ‘language’, as the Venerable Bede himself stated. This thesis will investigate this core issue by providing an overview of previous thinking and scrutinising the evidence for early divergence. It is intended as groundwork for much needed further studies into this field.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Pictish language, Celtic, Pictland, Brittonic, Brythonic, Welsh, Picts
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CN Inscriptions. Epigraphy.
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Clancy, Professor Thomas and Forsyth, Dr Katherine
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Mr Guto Rhys
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6285
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2015 12:41
Last Modified: 04 May 2015 12:00
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6285

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