Bilingualism in Medieval Ireland - language choice as part of intellectual culture


This project will contribute to the debates on medieval reception theory, elite culture and education, as well as the theories on bilingualism by studying the function of Irish and Latin code-switching in early medieval Ireland. The challenges posed by modern multilingual society's need to cope with different languages in everyday situations almost make us forget that linguistic diversity has been the norm rather than the exception throughout human history. This project focuses on a field of study in which the sources are so rich that questions about multilingualism can not only be asked but also answered and the developments can be traced across hundreds of years. At a time when most of Western Europe wrote in Latin rather than in the vernacular, the Irish prided themselves on being bilingual and gave evidence of that capacity on parchment. Why did they adopt this attitude? And why did they sometimes produce texts in a mixture of Latin and Irish? Along with addressing these questions, the project aims to shed new light on the way the Irish blended their indigenous pre-Christian culture with late Antique Roman culture that was introduced to Ireland together with Christianity. By successfully doing so the Irish not only played a crucial role in the Christianization of Western Europe but helped shape its intellectual culture. This model of cultural integration requires investigation.







Prof. dr. P.C.H. Schrijver

Verbonden aan

Universiteit Utrecht, Faculteit Geesteswetenschappen, Letteren


Dr. M. O Flaithearta, Drs. T.J.E. de Schepper, Drs. T.J.E. de Schepper, Prof. dr. P.C.H. Schrijver, Drs. N. Stam, Drs. N. Stam


01/06/2012 tot 31/08/2016