A second research trip on East Asian glossing

In 2013 I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a research trip to Kyoto and Tokyo to explore, with other European colleagues, the similarities between reading practices in early medieval Europe and Japan in the period roughly 7th to 9th centuries.

This summer we had the great fortune to make a return visit, where we had the opportunity to see more precious manuscripts, to participate in an intense workshop at the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL) and to spend time in informal discussion with some of the leading experts in the field of East Asian glossing.

Once again, our visit was made possible by Prof. Teiji Kosukegawa (小助川貞次) of the University of Toyama and facilitated by Prof. John Whitman of Cornell University. We were joined by Prof. Tomokazu Takada (高田 智和, NINJAL), Prof. Miyoung Oh (呉 美寧, Soongsil, Korea), Dr Valerio Alberizzi  (Waseda) and several other specialists. Other participants in the visiting group were Dr Alderik Blom (Oxford), Dr Franck Cinato (Paris, ÉPHE) and Dr Andreas Nievergelt (Zurich).

We are very grateful to the National Archives of Japan (国立公文書館) and to Prof. Masayuki Tsukimoto (月本雅幸) of the University of Tokyo for facilitating manuscript viewing.

This year again, Profs Kosukegawa and Whitman were extremely generous with their time and energy. We appreciate very much their investment in this new and very stimulating collaboration.

Pádraic Moran, Galway, 6 November 2014

National Archives of Japan, Tokyo (L–R Whitman, Moran, Cinato, Blom, Kosukegawa)
Akamon gate at Tokyo University.
Akamon (Red Gate) at Tokyo University (Nievergelt, Blom at R)
Symposium at NINJAL, 1 Aug 2014
Symposium at NINJAL, 1 Aug 2014. Pictured L–R: Takada, Oh, Kosukegawa, Whitman, Nievergelt.
NINJAL building (L–R: Kosukegawa, Moran, Blom)
Andreas Nievergelt, Franck Cinato, Teiji Kosukegawa
Andreas Nievergelt, Franck Cinato, Teiji Kosukegawa


Tokyo_N-8_Heart sutra siddham

Etymological notes on Buddhist terms

Here are some very rough notes on Indo-European roots of Buddhist (and some Hindu) terms of Sanskrit origin that are fairly well-known in English. I couldn’t find a similar list anywhere else (in print or online), so I thought I’d share mine here.

[Latest revision: 1 July 2015.]

  • ámṛita अमृत ‘immortality’
    *- (privative particle); *mer- ‘die’ (cf. Lat. im-mort-ālis, Gk ἀμβροσία ‘that pertaining to the immortals’)
  • avatar, S. avatāra अवतार ‘passes over, descends’
    S. ava- ‘down'; *terH- (Lat. trans, Eng. through)
  • Buddha बुद्ध
    *bheudh- ‘awaken, be aware’ (cf. Eng. bid, bode; note Grassman’s law)
  • Bodhisattva
    bodhi बोधि ‘perfect knowledge’ + sattva सत्त्व ‘existing, true, real’ (< *es- ‘be’)
  • chakra; S. cakra चक्र
    *kwel- ‘turn’ (cf. Lat. col-ere; Gk κύκλ-ος, βού-κολος; Ir. bua-chaill; Eng. wheel)
  • dharma धर्म  ‘law, custom’
    *dher-mn- ‘hold firmly’ (cf. Lat. firmus; Gk θρόνος)
  • guru गुरु ‘heavy, venerable’
    *gwerH- (cf. Lat. grav-is, Gk βαρύς)
  • Hīnayāna हीनयान (deprecating term for Theravada Buddhism)
    S. hīnā ‘inferior’, verb. adj. of jahāti ‘leaves, lets go’
    *ghe-ghē-ti (cf. go, heir, etc.)
  • karma कर्म ‘action, deeds’
    *kwer- ‘do, make’ (cf. Irish cruth)
  • Mahāyāna महायान
    *megh- ‘great’ (Lat. mag-is; Gk μέγας);  yāna ‘vehicle, way’ < *yaH- < *ei- ‘go’ (Lat. ; Gk εἶ-μι; Eng. year)
  • mantra मन्त्र ‘thought’
    *men- ‘mind’ + S. -tra, instrumental suffix
  • nirvāṇa  निर्वाण ‘extinction’
    S. nir- ‘out, away’ + vā-ti ‘blows’ < *weH- (cf. wind, ventum) + ṇa, abstract noun suffix; 涅槃 J. nehan
  • saṃsāra संसार ‘cycle of existence’
    *sem- ‘same’ (cf. similar, simple, etc.); *ser- ‘flow’
  • sūtra सूत्र ‘thread, string’ (hence, ‘rule’)
    *syuH- (cf. sew)
  • svastika स्वस्तिक < S. sv-astí-
    *sw- ‘well'; *es- ‘being’
  • tantra तन्त्र ‘loom’ (hence, ‘system’)
  • Theravāda (Pali थेरवाद ‘statements of the elders’)
    1) S. sthavira- ‘thick, stout, old’ < steuH- < stā-
    2) S. vādah ‘sound, statement’ < *wed- (cf. ode)
  • veda वेद ‘knowledge’
  • zen 禅 < C. chán < S. dhyāna ध्यान  ‘thought, contemplation’
    *dhyeh2 ‘notice’ (cf. Dor. sāma, Att. sēma ‘sign, token’, with first palatalisation; cf. medyos > L. medius, Att. mésos, Boet. mettos).

Header image: Tokyo, National Museum, N-8 (Hōryū-ji treasure).

Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds (2012)

Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds

Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds (2012)

This collection of essays, deriving from a Cambridge conference in 2007, has now been listed on the CUP website, due to appear in August 2012.

I have a small contribution exploring how Irish scholars around the seventh century derived a basic knowledge of Greek vocabulary from a range of Late Antique sources and how they applied that knowledge.

Here’s the full table of contents:

Introduction: multiple languages, multiple identities—Alex Mullen
1. Language maintenance and language shift in the Mediterranean world during the Roman Empire—James Clackson
2. Why did Coptic fail where Aramaic succeeded? Linguistic development in Egypt and the Near East after the Arab conquest—Arietta Papaconstantinou
3. Language contact in the pre-Roman and Roman Iberian peninsula: direct and indirect evidence—Oliver Simkin
4. Complaints of the natives in a Greek dress: the Zenon Archive and the problem of Egyptian interference—Trevor Evans
5. Linguae sacrae in ancient and medieval sources: an anthropological approach to ritual language—Alderik Blom
6. Typologies of translation techniques in Greek and Latin—David Langslow
7. Greek in early medieval Ireland—Pádraic Moran
8. An habes linguam Latinam? Non tam bene sapio: views of multilingualism from the early medieval West—Paul Russell
9. Towards an archaeology of bilingualism: on the study of Greek-Coptic education in late antique Egypt—Scott Bucking
10. Neo-Punic and Latin inscriptions in Roman North Africa: function and display—Andrew Wilson
11. Cultures as languages and languages as cultures—Robin Osborne

CUP website↦

Some online bibliographies

A few online bibliographical resources for early medieval philology (with an Irish focus).

Bibliography of Irish Linguistics and Literature

Bibliographies for Theology

Codecs: Online database and e-resources for Celtic Studies

CSANA: Celtic Studies Bibliography

Earlier Latin Manuscripts (founded on Lowe, CLA)

International Medieval Bibliography

Lexicon des Mittelalters

Manuscripta Mediaevalia

Medieval Studies Bibliographies (Charles Wright)


Monastic Manuscript Project

NUIG Classics: Resources Online

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Regesta Imperii (Mainz)

Repertorium “Geschichtsquellen des deutschen  Mittelalters”

Scéla (Irish narratives)