Book Series Lexica Latina Medii Aevi

De Origine Scoticae Linguae (O’Mulconry’s Glossary): An early Irish linguistic tract, edited with a related glossary, Irsan

Pádraic Moran (ed)

  • Pages: 592 p.
  • Size:155 x 245 mm
  • Illustrations:1 col.
  • Language(s):Latin, English
  • Publication Year:2019

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58179-8
  • Hardback
  • Available

A new edition of the earliest etymological study of a European vernacular language.


“Padraic Moran’s edition of OM and Irsán with full translation, comprehensive introduction, and detailed commentary is a seminal contribution to the study not only of medieval Irish glossaries, but also more generally of early medieval Irish thinking about language and the position of Irish among the languages of the world. it provides important evidence for medieval Irish scholars’ depth of learning, for the range of sources available to them, for the directions of their research interests, and for their etymological and linguistic ingenuity — but also for the challenges their work presents to modern scholars with regard to analysis and interpretation. Padraic Moran’s highly successful engagement with the intricacies of OM and Irsán proves that he has admirably met these challenges.” (Erich Poppe, in Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 80, 2020, p. 90)

“(...) it is clear that this edition is a work of a high philological standard and an important contribution to the field of medieval studies.” (Nike Stam, in Journal of Medieval Latin, 31, 2021, p. 341)

“In sum, Moran’s careful and thorough work is an enormous contribution to the disclosure of an early Irish metalinguistic source to a wider audience, which is a very significant and substantial achievement.” (Toon Van Hal, in Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft 32/2, 2022, p. 278)


Pádraic Moran is a Lecturer in Classics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His research interests include ancient and medieval education, especially grammar and rhetoric; transmission of learning in glosses, glossaries and scholia; and the knowledge of Greek and Hebrew in the early medieval West.


De Origine Scoticae Linguae (also known as O’Mulconry’s Glossary) is a text originating in seventh-century Ireland that provides etymologies for c. 880 Irish words, mostly drawn from Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Its Latin prologue declares its affiliation to the Graeco-Roman linguistic tradition, claiming an origin for the Irish language in the Greek dialects Attic, Doric and Aeolic. The glossary attests to the transmission and reception of the Latin grammatical tradition in Ireland and shines light in particular on the Irish knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. The text also represents a milestone in the history of European linguistics, as the earliest etymological study of a European vernacular language.

The glossary was published once before, by Whitley Stokes in 1898. This new edition provides the first translation and textual commentary, clarifying the sense of difficult entries and discussing sources. The introduction analyses the structure and contents, origins and development, linguistic issues, and relationships to other texts. The text is edited here along with a shorter related glossary of 232 entries, entitled Irsan, which includes shared material and sheds further light on its development.