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Cardamom Seminar Series #23 – Dr Martina Maher (Faclair na Gàidhlig)

June 26, 2023 @ 5:00 pm 6:00 pm IST

Born digital meets born medieval: Incorporating pre-modern manuscript material into a dictionary compiled wholly via digital methods

The Unit for Linguistic Data at the Insight SFI Reseach Centre for Data Analytics / Data Science Institute, University of Galway, is delighted to welcome Dr Martina Maher, a celtic studies researcher as the next speaker in our seminar series. In this talk, she will speak about the importance and process of incorporating pre-modern manuscripts into a dictionary based corpus mainly focused in the Gaelic languages.


The last authoritative dictionary of Scottish Gaelic was published in 1911. As that work was not based on historical principles, and because more than a century has since passed, a comprehensive modern dictionary, based on historical principles is a desideratum for Scottish Gaelic and is currently underway by Faclair na Gàidhlig, the Dictionary of Scottish Gaelic project. To be based on historical principles, lexicographers must incorporate pre-modern (medieval and Classical) Gaelic-language material – which is to be found in manuscripts – into the dictionary, but such material does not easily lend itself to digitisation for a variety of reasons, e.g. the characteristics of the script used, the heavily abbreviated nature of the texts, the idiosyncrasies of any particular scribe, the different periods of the language, and the editorial norms of the material (if published at all). In this seminar Dr Martina Maher will speak about the Faclair na Gàidhlig Manuscripts’ Corpus, detailing the processes used to address these challenges, the outcomes thereof, and some additional insights into the corpus that have resulted from the use of such methods.

About the Speaker:

Dr Martina Maher is a Celtic Studies researcher and lecturer, including research and teaching on all periods of the Gaelic language(s) from Early Gaelic (aka Old Irish) to modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Her main research interests lie in medieval and early modern Gaelic literature, particularly that of the Finn Cycle; in textual criticism; and in the use of digital methods to capture, present, and analyse medieval manuscript texts.


The seminar series is led by the Cardamom project team. The Cardamom project aims to close the resource gap for minority and under-resourced languages using deep-learning-based natural language processing (NLP) and exploiting similarities of closely related languages. The project further extends this idea to historical languages, which can be considered closely related to their modern form. It aims to provide NLP through both space and time for languages that current approaches have ignored.

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