By Katherine Stuart Forsyth

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If vowels are to be written with longer strokes then it is necessary to find some other way of differentiating the two aicmi. In practice, this was done by having vowel-strokes which were perpendicular, and mstrokes which were oblique across the stem. Since so many orthodox inscriptions have oblique m-strokes and very short vowels, it is clear that the introduction of slope was not a response to lengthening vowel strokes, it may, in fact, have opened the way for it. Further study of the earliest examples is required before it can be ascertained if perpendicular m-strokes are the wr-fbnn and oblique ones an innovation, or whether the m-aicme was conceived of as sloping from the outset and perpendicular ones were merely a scribal variant.

MacLennan, Kelvingrove An Gallery & Museum] * Linear carvings FOSHIGARRY * Bone disc inscribed with allegedly ogham-like markings [Hallgn 1994:218 Illus,5| GIGHA 2 * Lower portion of pillar bearing ogham-like markings [Photo. D. 5 xxviii ABBREVIATIONS AUTHORITIES AND GENERAL - See also bibliography ATig 'Annals of Tigernach\ ed. Whitley Stokes, Revue celtique 16 (1895) 374-419; 17 (1896) 9-33, 119-263, 337-420; 18 (1897) 9-59, 150-97, 267-303. D. 1131), ed. Sean Mac Airt & Gearoid Mac Niocaill, Dublin 1983.

Similarly with die third letter of the b-aicme, V /w/, which by the Old Irish period represented /f/, manuscript/. If this is transcribed instead by its Pictish cognate /w/, manuscript uu- (cf. Welsh gw-), the effect is equally transformative. Some Scottish oghams, however, were clearly carved in an Irish-speaking environment, where, presumably Q still meant /k/, and V meant HI. From this it can be seen diat assigning sound values to ogham graphemes is not straightforward. In transliterating the various characters, choosing one option over another can turn a Goidelic-looking text, into a Brittonic-looking one at a stroke.

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The ogham inscriptions of Scotland: An edited corpus by Katherine Stuart Forsyth


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