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

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.