Medieval Irish Bilingualism


Is modern-day spoken bilingualism any different from historical written bilingualism? Do the same rules and theories apply? When an Irish scribe used Latin and Irish in one sentence, what does this tell us about his proficiency, his education and his audience? In short, what can medieval Irish bilingualism tell us about the society that fostered it?

These are the questions that we have tried to answer in the project Bilingualism in Medieval Ireland – Language choice as a part of intellectual culture that ran between 2012 and 2016. In June 2017, both project PhD’s candidates successfully defended their PhD theses with distinction. Tom ter Horst’s PhD Thesis on the Leabhar Breac homilies can be downloaded here, and Nike Stam’s PhD Thesis on the Commentary to the Félire Óengusso can be downloaded here. To download the XML-encoded data that formed the basis of the theses, a password may be obtained from n.stam[at] For more information about the project and research questions, please click here or watch this short YouTube clip: