Eilbhíseach, arbh í an Fhraincis a chéad teanga, an scoláire seo a rugadh sa Ghinéiv. Le múinteoireacht a chuaigh sé ar dtús agus ansin chaith tamall san arm sular chloígh sé leis an léann. Bhí spéis aige óna óige sa Cheiltis agus d’fhoilsigh sé a thráchtas ar chreideamh na sean-Ghael nuair a bhí sé 25 bliain d’aois. Fuair sé post in Ollscoil na Ginéive. Bhí tionchar air ag obair James Cowles Prichard (1786-1848), lia agus eitneolaí, an fear ba thúisce a nasc na teangacha Ceilteacha leis an Ind-Eorpais, agus in 1837 foilsíodh a De l’Affinité des Langues Celtiques avec le Sanscrit.. Dheimhnigh an leabhar seo tuairimí Phrichard. Scríobh sé go leor aistí ar ghnéithe áirithe den Cheiltis. Mhol sé go mbeadh foclóir Gaeilge ar fáil agus tá litir aige faoi ón nGinéiv in Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 1860: ‘All further delays are injurious. The old relics of your language are disappearing year after year from accidents, carelessness, fire or damp. How many irreparable losses have taken place during the last two or three centuries! Preserve at least what still remains, by condensing the substance of them in a Thesaurus if the means are not forthcoming to publish them in a complete form. Even if not for the sake of national self-love you are called on to do so lest you should be anticipated by some foreigner. Zeuss, a German, has already snatched from the hands of your scholars the glory of having raised Celtic philology to the level of modern science. But Zeuss, as far as the ancient Gaelic is concerned, has only explored continental sources of information: and it will be for you to complete his work by the aid of those rich native stores which you still possess.’ Bhí sé sásta deontas a thabhairt chun go gcuirfí siúl faoi obair seo an fhoclóra.

I léirmheas ar a mhórshaothar, Les Origines Indo-Européenes, 1859-63, scríobh H. McCormac (Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 1859): ‘And great as are the merits of the investigators, Bopp, Pott and Rask in this department of knowledge, no one of them excels Adolphe Pictet in patient research, clearness and ingenuity of deduction, and cautious watchfulness against drawing rash or premature inferences . . .. Pictet was not the first to claim for the Celtic dialects the right to be included in the great Indo-Germanic or Aryan family of languages. But, with the exception of Prichard and the lamented Zeuss, he has certainly done more than any other philologist, perhaps more than all other philologists put together, to prove their analogy, which has been neglected and even denied by the great linguists already named.’

Deir Kim McCone: ‘Although his work was acclaimed at the time, Pictet’s more wide ranging phonological and morphological equations were hit and miss, to say the least, with the misses far outnumbering the hits. Two major factors responsible for this were a comparative method still in its infancy and lack of access to the earliest Irish sources’ (as páipéar ar an idirlíon).

Ag caint dó ar Radio Éireann (4 Meán Fómhair 1956) dúirt Seán Mac Réamoinn: ‘Ní gan chúis a thug Whitley Stokes mar theist ar Pictet gur gheall le “réalt na maidne don tSanasaíocht Cheilteach é”.’ D’éag sé i mí na Nollag 1875. Deir cuntas iarbháis air (sreangscéal ó Pháras i gcló in Times 23 Nollaig 1875): ‘The Journal de Geneve announces the death in that town of M. Adolphe Pictet, distinguished for his researches into the language of the ancient Gauls and the primitive history of the Aryan race. His works on the latter earned him a high reputation, but he had not lived long enough to conclude a treatise on the names of Celtic rivers. He was formerly an Artillery officer and invented the percussion shells, the secret of which, on the refusal of France, was purchased by Austria.’

Diarmuid Breathnach

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