John Miles Foley, Founding Editor

The Storyteller, the Scribe, and a Missing Man: Hidden Influences from Printed Sources in the Gaelic Tales of Duncan and Neil MacDonald

Abstract

This article concerns the well-known case of storytelling brothers Neil and Duncan MacDonald from South Uist, Scotland. The impressive verbal consistency of their hero tales has been taken to indicate that some Gaelic storytellers could acquire, recite, and transmit their repertoire in a near verbatim fashion. However, by deploying plagiarism detection techniques across an electronic corpus of texts, the author reveals that previous observations about the brothers’ verbal conservativeness have been skewed by corrupt evidence.

eCompanion

Duncan MacDonald.

Photo: School of Scottish Studies Archives

Accession sheet label submitted by Donald John MacDonald for Neil MacDonald’s recitation of Fear na h-Eabaid.

Photo: School of Scottish Studies Archives

banais (line 4, word 3).

Image: MacDhòmhnaill and Craig 1950:24

DJM:3557, banais (line 4, word 1).

Photo: School of Scottish Studies Archives

bainis (line 2, word 3).

Image: MacDhòmhnaill and Craig 1950:26

DJM-N:3557, bainis (line 4, word 1) with motif annotation on right.

Photo: School of Scottish Studies Archives

Donald John MacDonald transcribing the wrong line of text from Craig (from DJM:3564).

Photo: School of Scottish Studies Archives

Example showing nan teintean immediately above a’ bhoireannaich.

Image: MacDhòmhnaill and Craig 1950:26

Dice coefficient values with MWHT over three sections of Iain Òg Mac Rìgh na Frainge from the manuscripts of Donald John MacDonald.

Graph: William Lamb

Dice coefficient values over three sections of ATU 1651/506 in DJM-N and MWHT.

Graph: William Lamb

Table of Contents

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