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The Structure of Modern Irish

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Modern Irish is a VSO language, in common with the other Celtic languages, and the order of elements in the structure of transitive sentences is verb–subject–object. This book provides a characterization of the nominal, verb, clause and information structure of the Irish language from a functional perspective based on Role and Reference Grammar. Included in this analysis are the layered structure of the noun phrase of Irish and the various NP operators, the layered structure of the clause and the verbal system at the syntax–semantic interface along with a number of verb valence behaviours as mediated by event and argument structure. The book also surveys previous treatments of Irish within a functionalist approach.

The verbal noun has a special place within the Irish language and its deployment is particularly productive. The book examines the derivation of the verbal noun and the contexts in which it is used. It also provides an account of light verbs and complex predicates as they occur within Irish and links this to a characterization of the information structure of Irish. Additionally it provides an analysis of certain linguistically interesting phenomena that are particular to Irish (and the other Celtic languages) including the two verbs of ‘to be’. Within the verbal system the author’s concern is with the relationship between the semantic representation of a verbal predicate in the context of a clause and its syntactic expression through the argument structure of the verb. He suggests that lexical specification is via a logical representation that reflects the aspectual decomposition of the verbal predicate and that this determines, with an actor–undergoer hierarchy, the operation of the mapping into syntax via the linking system.

Published: Jul 1, 2012


Section Chapter Authors
Abbreviations Brian Nolan
Introduction Brian Nolan
Causation Brian Nolan
The reflexive constructions in Modern Irish Brian Nolan
The personal passive construction and its variants Brian Nolan
The impersonal passive Brian Nolan
The recipient and passive GET construction with ‘faigh’ Brian Nolan
The expression of modality in Irish Brian Nolan
Complex predicates and Irish light verb constructions Brian Nolan
Information structure: Focus and copula clefts Brian Nolan
The layered structure of the noun phrase Brian Nolan
The layered structure of the Irish word Brian Nolan
Concluding discussion Brian Nolan
References Brian Nolan
Index Brian Nolan

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The book is intended to be of use for a wide and diverse scholarly audience, and it certainly meets this expectation. Linguistically minded scholars of Irish will gain much insight in reading this volume, and undoubtedly will benefit from the examinations of some hitherto unobserved features of the language. Researchers within RRG will profit from seeing the model applied to Irish, a language not previously captured in a functional model. The many suggested expansions of the theory are favourable and worthy of attention from within the RRG community. The book will certainly be of interest to readers outside the intended audience. In fact, one of the strongest attributes of the book is the lead-in accompanying each chapter that introduces the forthcoming topic, which will be of use to anyone seeking the syntactic analysis of a particular construction. Besides, the volume is well-grounded with numerous references to established texts on the chosen topic. This means that each analysis of an Irish construction is founded on a firm and informed theoretical basis.
Folio Linguistica
, May 2014