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Nuair a bha Gaidhlig aig na h-eoin : an investigation into the art and artifice of avifaunal mimesis as a mode of artistic expression in Gaelic oral culture from the seventeenth century to the present

Harris-Logan, Stuart A. (2007) Nuair a bha Gaidhlig aig na h-eoin : an investigation into the art and artifice of avifaunal mimesis as a mode of artistic expression in Gaelic oral culture from the seventeenth century to the present. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This investigation will interrogate the mimetic faculty of modern Gaelic oral culture, focussing particularly on mimesis as an artistic device. The imitation of nature in Gaelic is perhaps most frequently associated with the folk-song tradition, in which non-lexical vocable refrains are frequently deployed for the purposes of emulating a particular sound quality pertinent to an individual species or natural phenomenon, such as the call of the seal or the breaking of waves. The most common of these, however, imitate birds. For the purposes of this analysis, imitation is understood to mean both the acoustic replication of a primary sound object (in this instance birdsong) or alternatively the figurative imitation of a given image implied by the use of metaphor. To this end, the present study will be divided into three sections, delineated in terms of genre. Chapters one and three will address the faculty of acoustic bird imitation, the former focusing on the sonance and semantics of mimetic children’s rhymes and the latter examining the use of voice in dialogue segments attributed to birds in traditional Gaelic storytelling. In addition, the second chapter will look at the bird metaphor and its deployment as a vehicle for both praise and vilification in Gaelic poetry, interrogating the semiotic meanings such associations invoke. In summation, it will be argued that the imitation of birds in Gaelic oral culture can be read in a wider context as a form of artistic escapism ‘in which the ordinary features of our world are brought into focus by a certain exaggeration … a framing of reality that announces that what is contained within the frame is not simply real’ (Davis, 1999: 3).

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: imitation, Gaelic, oral tradition, birds, poetry, folk-song, storytelling, St. Kilda, Gaidhlig, mimesis
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Supervisor's Name: Michel, Dr. Byrne and O'Maolalaigh, Professor Roibeard
Date of Award: 2007
Depositing User: Mr. Stuart A. Harris-Logan
Unique ID: glathesis:2007-741
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 May 2009
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2013 12:02
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/741

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