Anders Ahlqvist (1945-2018), scholar of the Irish Language

An Obituary Notice in Irish and English for Anders Ahlquivst by Colin Ryan 

This is an extract from Colin Ryan’s account in An Lúibín, September 2018 of Anders’ life and work. The extract has been translated here. If you would like to read more or to receive an electronic copy of Colin’s monthly Irish language newsletter, please email him at  rianach@optusnet.com.au.

Is gearr ó fuair Anders Ahlqvist (1945-2018) bás agus é trí bliana is seachtó d’aois – bás roimh am, i dtaca le holc. Scoláire mór ba ea é agus is fada go mbeidh an Léann Ceilteach faoi chomaoin aige. B’as an Fhionlainn dó agus é ina dhuine den mhionlach Sualannach sa tír sin. Fear ilteangach ba ea é agus Gaeilge bhlasta aige.

Anders Ahlqvist (1945-2018) died recently at seventy-three years of age – before his time, all things considered. He was an outstanding scholar, and Celtic Studies is a great deal in his debt. He was from Finland and was a member of the Swedish-speaking minority in that country. He was multilingual with fluent Irish.

Rinne Anders Ahlqvist staidéar ar fhocleólaíocht chlasaiceach, ar fhocleolaíocht Lochlannach agus ar theangeolaíocht ghinearálta in Ollscoil Helsinki. Bhí suim aige sna teangacha Ceilteacha, rud a thug go hÉirinn é, agus sa bhliain 1976 ceapadh mar ollamh i nGaillimh é, nuair nach raibh le fáil san ollscoil ach tuairim is 5,000 mac léinn. Chaith sé na blianta fada in Éirinn, cé go dtugadh sé léachtaí in Ollscoil Helsink ó am go chéile agus in Ollscoil Utrecht. Bhí baint aige le grúpa taighdeoirí, mac léinn agus díograiseoirí sa Fhionlainn a raibh an-spéis acu sa léann Ceilteach agus a raibh a lán acu múinte aige in Éirinn.

At Helsinki university, Anders studied a range of languages from classical to Scandinavian. He was especially interested in the Celtic languages, something that took him to Ireland, and in 1976 he was appointed a professor at Galway University, a time when there were only around 5,000 students. He spent a long time in Ireland, giving occasional lectures at the Helsinki and Utrecht universities. He was involved with a group of Finnish researchers, students, and enthusiasts for Celtic studies, many of whom he had taught in Ireland.

Bhí an-tábhacht leis an tréimhse a chaith sé mar scoláire i mBaile Átha Cliath. Bhí an-suim aige sna seantéacsanna agus i gcúrsaí gramadaí. Rinne sé staidéar ar struchtúr, ar mhoirfeolaíocht agus ar chomhréir agus ar an ngaol atá idir an Ghaeilge agus teangacha Ind-Eorpacha eile. D’eascair a lán ailt léannta den scoth óna láimh dá bharr, ailt a chuir go mór lena iomrá i measc scoláirí eile. Bhí intleacht chruinn bheacht aige agus bhí neart léite aige; ba bheag an stró air tagairt éasca a dhéanamh do shaothar a leithéidí eile agus fadhb á cíoradh aige.

The time he spent as a scholar in Dublin was very important. He was very interested in ancient texts and in grammar. He studied structure, morphology, and syntax and the connection between Irish and other Indo-European languages. He produced many academic articles that drew the attention of other scholars. He was known for his clear and precise intellect and for being extensively well-read; he had no difficulty in referring readily to the work of other scholars when discussing a problem.

D’áitigh sé go ndeachaigh na Ceilteacha i bhfeidhm ar an mBéarla, tuairim nár aontaigh gach duine léi. Sin é an fáth, dar leis, go bhfuil an Béarla scartha amach ó theangacha Gearmánacha eile., agus mhaígh sé nach foláir teangacha Ceilteacha a iniúchadh chun dul amach ar an mBéarla. Rinne sé tagairt do chúig rud: an briathar ‘bheith’ i sean-Bhéarla agus i mBreatnais, an timchaint, abairtí scoilte (nuair a úsáidtear clásal coibhneasta chun béim a chur ar chuid den abairt – ‘is iad na páistí a rinne é’), foirmeacha den aimsir chaite agus an bhaint a bhí ag ‘sí’ i nGaeilge le ‘she’.

He argued that the Celts had an effect on the English language, an opinion not shared by others. That is the reason, he claimed, that English is so separate from the other Germanic languages, and he claimed that you only had to examine Celtic languages to expose the English. He cited five things: the verb ‘to be’ in Old English and in Breton, circumlocution, clefts (where a different emphasis can be achieved – ‘it’s the children who did it’), forms of the past tense, and the connection between Irish sí and ‘she’.

Colin Ryan

Colin is a poet and a regular contributor to Tinteán and issues his own Irish language online newsletter An Lúibín. Más mian leat An Lúibín a fháil, cuir teachtaireacht dá réir chun rianach@optusnet.com.au

 

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