ON IRISH LEXICOGRAPHY.
s mooth breathing,' quoted in a subsequent gloss, ibid. I
IV. But after everything is done in the way of glossaries and dictionaries, the permanent source of material is the literature itself ; and in this field there is abundant scope for labourers for many years to come. The vicissitudes of Irish lexicography are not without amusing in- cident, for the glosses are often the helpless guesses of men as ignorant as we are of the meaning of words that had dropt out of usage with the decay of the customs to which they had reference. One of the most fatal methods of procedure current in these glosses is the assign- ing of an important role to the assumed derivation of the word, the glossator often bringing no mental effort to bear on the facts, but emitting his speculations in the most indifferent or audacious spirit. Of course, not all the faults lie at the door of the Irish original scribe ; the later copyist has many sins to answer for. Take the follow- ing instance : in the Amra of Colum Cille (Stokes, Goedelica, p. 167), we have a gloss on the word manna, viz. in main n issed asbertfs meicc [Israel] fria manc[h]o, or as Crowe (p. 52) gives it, "in maind; is ed atbertfs meicc Israel fri a manchu", which he translates, " it is what the children of Israel used to say to their monks, ' quid est hoc nisi cibus celestas' ". "What the children of Israel had to do with monks seems never to have occurred to Crowe, at all events ! But this abuse of words is unfair to the early writer, who was simply transferring to his page the words of the Bible [Exod. xvi. 15], " quod cum vidissent filii Israel, dixerunt ad invicem : manhu ? quod significat, ' quid est hoc' ". This presumed manchu, * monks', is neither more nor less than the mdn hti of the Hebrew text, so that the etymological speculation is flung back a good many centuries, and must be placed to the credit of the Aramaean pundits ! A still more amusing instance is met with in the Gr. Celt, p. 241, where we have the following entry : — " Ace. masc. : indasian [leg. indasians .1. imbucai 1. lethet (gl. lati- tudinem ; ». e. in utrumque sensum, i. e. angustiam aut latitudinem) Sg. 3V In other words, the word indasian is emended into ' in da sians,' and translated in utrumque sensum. In the preceding case we had a mis- reading of two Shemitic words : here the word in question is Aryan, indeed, but not Irish, for dasian is just the pronunciation of the Greek δασεῖαν, 'the rough breathing,' as contrasted with psili (ψιλή), 'the