This is a guest post by Michi who lives in Austria with her family. She’s been learning Irish, and shares below an ancient pattern she came across.
First of all I want to thank Eoin and Audrey for the great work and the big efforts they are making.
I am happy to contribute a little guest comment about a really nice find.
A nice find to report an a more glorious time of the Irish language in the past. And I found it here where I live, nearly 2000 km away from Ireland.
An Austrian tradition linked back to Ireland?
But to understand the link we have to dig a bit into the incomprehensible gibberish of Bavarian/Tyrolean. It is the way we greet each other by using “Griass god!”. The word-by-word translation is “greet god!” and this is nonsense, as you hardly ever meet him/her personally. And I have always asked myself, why we use such a strange formula.
The fascinating answer is: it is a gift from Ireland.
The standard way to greet each other is to use notion wishing you a good day/part of the day:
- good morning (English)
- goddag (Danish)
- guten Tag (German)
- góðan dag (Icelandic)
- buon giorno (Italish)
- bonjour (French)
- buenos días (Spanish)
- dober dan (Slovenian)
- добър ден (dуbar den – Bulgarian)
- Laba diena! (Lithuanian)
…and even the non Indo-European languages of Europe follow this pattern: jó napot (Hungarian), hyvää päivää (Finish) and the ancient language of the Basque uses “egun on“.
And most amazingly other Celtic languages are reported to copy this pattern, too like Prynhawn da or dydd da (Welsh).
The only two language that seem to differ
There are only two languages that use a different formula: Irish and the Southern German languages/dialects and both use the word of GOD in their salutation This might be a coincidence, as both regions are Catholic and were very pious.
Let us go back to „Griass god!“. When – in German languages – a noun follows the verb it is mostly seen as an object – and so I have always interpreted „god“ as an accusative. But this cannot be true when you take a closer look especially at the longer form of the greeting, which is „Griass di god“ – and now you have to translate the notion as: greetS you god!
As this is not a question but an exclamation, even a beginner of Irish can spot out a rather Celtic word order with the predicate at the beginning of the sentence. If the greeting were German by origin, it would be “God greets you”.
So distinguished linguists and Germanists like Ludwig Zehetner (“Baririsches Deutsch”) or Anthony Rowley (editor of the Bavarian dictionary) propose and it seems now undisputed that the standard low German greeting used in Bavaria and throughout Austria is of Irish origin, especially considering that “to greet” meant “to bless” in former times.
Sources (sorry German only!): Ludwig Zehetner, Bairisches Deutsch, edition vulpes, ISBN 3-9807028-7-1
How come this happened?
When we look at the map of Europe you will find, that there is quite a distance between Dublin and Munich or Cork and Innsbruck.
How on earth did the salutation come the long way from Ireland to this central part of Europe?
Many moons ago
The answer can be found in early Christianity.
While the European continent was still a mess thanks to the fall of Rome and turmoil caused by the Migration Period, the more isolated Ireland had developed a profound Christian culture.
And Irish monks spread their beliefs over the continent in the famous Hiberno-Scottish mission. They founded monasteries in France, Italy, Switzerland, Bavaria, Baden-Würtemberg and Austria.
If you are interested in this early but very influential part of Irish history please read more about it on Wikipedia.
And obviously thanks to the religious and cultural influence spread by the monasteries the local population fell in love with the pious blessings of the irish monks and translated it word-by-wordy to use it as a salutation in their own language. And we still use it nowadays.
PS: The Irish monks were reported to be very ascetic (??????). Dear historians, please, go through your files once again! There must be mistake!!!!!
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