[lit-ideas] Re: On linguistic and genetic uncertainty

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 7 May 2014 07:28:42 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 5/6/2014 10:03:58  P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx writes:
I am not too sure  what the original complaint was, that the Scotch were 
subsumed under the Irish?  

The original wording by Helm went:
"In the Ancestry.com definitions, one can find British (which I find in my  
genealogic tree) under Western Europe and Scottish (also in my genealogic 
tree)  under Irish.  And that ambiguity can be found in recent studies such 
as  Oppenheimer’s; so perhaps the Ancestry people are updating results as new 
 arguments are advanced.  There is no consensus on the reasons for the  
difference between the Scots and the Irish, for example, or whether they  
originally came from central Europe as many have believed or through Southern  
France and Spain as Oppenheimer and later scholars now believe."
My quotations were from Oppenheimer's link in the  Oppenheimer entry in 
Wikipedia: a forum for the discussion of what I think  is entitled the 'myth' 
of British ancestry. Anyhow, Helm's wording are  interesting, and they 
reminded me of a glorious, to my mind, passage in a  'comical history of 
that I often quote, '1066 and all that'  where things that happened are 
distinguished as being "a good thing"  or a "bad thing" in terms of their 
consequences. Their authors are "MA  (Oxon) (failed)" and they write:
A section that does not quite refer to the Scots and Picts at  all, 
"Culture among the Ancient Britons", 
relates to Oppenheimer's argument. Sellar and Yeatman write: 
"The Ancient Britons were by no means savages 
before the Conquest, and had already made great 
strides in civilization, e.g. they buried each other in 
long round wheelbarrows (agriculture) and burnt 
each other alive (religion) under the guidance 
of even older Britons called Druids or 
Eisteddfods, who worshipped the Middletoe 
in the famous Druidical churchyard at Stoke Penge."
There is an ERRATUM, "For Middletoe read Mistletoe."
---- The Scots/Picts passage goes after the mention of the end of the  
"Provincia Romana" and "Roman occupation" (nicely illustrated by a Roman  
immersed in a bath, and thus punning on the 'alleged' ambiguity of 'occupy' --  
"they did little but have baths, these Romans -- that was what they occupied  
their time in" -- being the implicature)
Sellar and Yeatman write:

"The withdrawal of the Roman legions to take part in Gibbon's Decline  and 
Fall of the Roman Empire (due to a clamour among the Romans for pompous  
amusements such as bread and circumstances) left Britain defenceless and  
subjected Europe to that long succession of Waves of which History is chiefly  
"While the Roman Empire was overrun by waves not only of Ostrogoths,  
Vizigoths, and even Goths, but also of Vandals (who destroyed works of art) and 
Huns (who destroyed everything and everybody, including Goths, Ostrogoths,  
Vizigoths, and even Vandals), Britain was attacked by waves of Picts (and, 
of  course, Scots) who had recently learnt how to climb the wall, and of 
Angles,  Saxons, and Jutes who, landing at Thanet, soon overran the country 
fire  (and, of course, the sword)."
And here is their
"Important Note"
"The Scots (originally Irish, but by now Scotch) were at this time  
inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the  
Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It 
 is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and verce visa)."
The history is intended as parodical so it may do to revise the  
implicatures alla Grice:
i. The Socts were originally Irish.
ii. The Scots were originally Irish but were by NOW Scotch.
iii. The Scots had become Scotch.
iv. The Scots (or Scotch), while originally Irish, were no longer so.  
(Oppenheimer would disagree: Once Irish, all ways Irish).
v. The Scots were inhabiting Ireland. 
vi. No wonder they were originally Irish.
v. Irish is whoever inhabits Ireland. (analytic).
vi. The Scots had driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland.
vii. The Irish were Picts.
. Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts 
 (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It 
is  essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and verce visa)."
viii. The Pics (originally Socts) were now Irish.
Here there is the symmetry:
ix. The Scots were originally Irish; the Picts were originally Scots.
By transitivity:
x. The Picts were originally Irish.
Here there is a contradictory implicature (or entailment), big enough to be 
 present in a serious student of the passage:
xi. If the Picts were originally Irish, how come they were NOW Irish.  
Implicature: they ALL WAYS were!
xii. "Living in brackets" possibly triggers the wrong implicature.
xiii. The Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and  
vice versa.
The 'implicature' of entailment of 'and vice versa' here seems odd to  
formulate explicitly:
xiv. The Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and  
vice versa. To wit: the Irish (living in brackets) were now Picts 
(originally  Scots). 
No wonder Oppenheimer's book brought further controversy to an already  
controversial topic!
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