MUSKERRY HOUSE STYLE
I am trying to use the Irish spelling adopted by the Coiste Litríochta Mhúscraí, but I may not understand it perfectly. So these are personal notes on the subject. My name for the spelling system, Muskerry House Style, is my own.
The editing of Cork Irish needs to have an eye on ensuring the compatibility of the Irish texts with other Irish being written in the present day. It would be simple to assert that the correct spelling of the word bliain is bliadhain; I myself would be an advocate of historical spelling, but the realities have been changed on the ground and so I have to take note of that. Given that no dh is pronounced in the middle of the word, and that the standardised spelling of bliain is sufficient to show the pronunciation, to write bliadhain wold be to take a decision to archaise the spelling.
It is worth noting that bliadhain was also spelt bliaghain, and that PUL wrote somewhere that there never was a dh in this word; the dh or gh was inserted at some point in the past when it was reasoned that diphthongs and long vowels need to contain adventitious digraphs in Irish spelling. I don’t have any information on the history of this word, and maybe PUL was right here. Historically correct spellings can often be incorrect etymologically, as with the word island in English, which has never had an s in the pronunciation, being derived from an Old Norse root. At some point in the past, it was thought to be connected to insula in Latin, and so gained an s…
Irish words also have a complex pre-history, which makes the task of etymological spelling quite complex. Dinneen argued that words like aimsigh that have a pronounced g in the preterite and imperative need to show the gh throughout, with aimsighim, aimsiughadh, aimsighthe in the present, verbal noun and participle. PUL’s works often have verbal noun in -ú, as there was a drift towards spellings such as aimsiú early on in the Gaelic Revival. While it would be clearer to have the gh in all parts of the verb, the spellings aimsím, aimsiú, aimsithe and aimsigh used in the Standard produce the correct pronunciation in Cork Irish. Other, more strained, attempts at etymological spelling include forms such as maróbhad for maród, where it is argued that the bh from mairbh should be seen in all parts of the verb. Whereas most second-conjugation verbs have -óch- in the future and conditional (cf. aimseóchad, which I am editing as aimseód), some verbs were traditionally spelt with -bh-, producing forms such as marbhuighim, marbhughadh, mairbhthe for maraím, marú and mairthe. One could easily ask, if there is a -bh- in marbhuighim, why is there a -gh- too? Research into the earlier forms of these verbs would be fascinating, but it seems better to follow the pronunciation, accepting the Standard spelling where it is possible to accept it for Cork Irish.
Spelling changes in the Standard that give the wrong pronunciation for Cork Irish cannot be accepted however. An example is the genitive of saol, given as saoil in the Standard, deriving from original forms saoghal and saoghail. As aoi is pronounced /i:/ in WM Irish, and there was no original aoi trigraph in this word, the pronunciation is /e:/, and so we need to adopt a spelling that shows the Cork pronunciation. The Muskerry House Style has saol in the nominative and saeil in the genitive. I am hesitant over words such as drochshaoil, where IWM shows the genitive is pronounced with /i:/: should it be edited as drochshaeil or not?
Some comments on long vowels listed in IWM
§ 281: ao – remains ao (e:), unless the pronunciation is /i:/. For this reason caora is edited as caíora. Where the pronunciation is /əi/, an alternative spelling might be employed. E.g. adhsáideach for aosáideach, as adhsáideach is listed as an alternative in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary anyway. I would prefer not to make up forms entirely, and so where an accepted alternative spelling is not available, I tend to put the IPA for the pronunciation in the glossary of the works I am editing.
§ 282: aoi – remains aoi (i:). However, in a number of generally well-known monosyllabic words, such as caoi and naoi the pronunciation is /e:/ and not the expected /i:/. These can be left as is, or a note put in the glossary. For non-monosyllables, however, it is preferable to find an appropriate spelling, e.g. caothúlacht instead of caoithiúlacht. Caoireach is edited as caeireach.
§ 283: éa – usually /ia/, but sometimes /e:/. My preference is to leave as éa, even in cases where it is /e:/, and put a note in the glossary for words like soíscéal, where the pronunciation is /e:/. Préachán is retained although the pretonic éa is pronounced /i:/, and féadaim is retained although the éa is pronounced /iə/. Such details can be entered in glossaries.
§ 284: éi – usually /e:/, and left as is where it is /əi/ unless a widely accepted alternative spelling is available (e.g., as a variant in Ó Dónaill’s dictionary). So éirím is spelt éirím, although a note is entered in the glossary, as only the manufacturing of a non-existent spelling could show the pronunciation of this word. The form eist is accepted where so written in the original, as éist was also found as eist in the meaning of “keep quiet”.
§ 285 eó – a long eó is shown by the síneadh fada regardless of usage in the Standard. Thus leó for leo. A short vowel (leogaim) remains spelt eo.
§ 288 ó – usually /o:/, but spelt ú where the vowel is in fact /u:/, as in nú for nó. Where the vowel is pronounced /uə/ in mór, it is left unchanged, probably because this is a rare occurrence and the word is well-known.
Some comments on diphthongs listed in IWM
§ 290 ia – this is normally /iə/ or /ia/, but can be /i:/ in pretonic positions, eg cliathán. However, the spelling is retained, as this is regularly derived change.
§ 291 ua – this is normally /uə/, but has become /o:/ in some words, such as cnósach, a spelling that would be adopted in the Muskerry House Style. A common word like nua, which is pronounced with /o:/ is left unchanged, however. Where pretonic ua becomes /u:/, as in uanán, this is left unchanged, as the pronunciation can be regularly derived. Where pretonic uai becomes /əi/, the spelling is left unchanged, as in Ruaidhrí, but a note is put in the glossary, as to change the spelling to show the pronunciation would require a major orthographical change.