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Hammond, Michael, and S. J. Hannahs, “Orthographic epenthesis and vowel deletion in Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 23 (2022): 115–136.

In this paper, we examine the distribution of epenthesis in final clusters and initial syllable deletion in trisyllabic words in Welsh using a corpus of Twitter data (Jones et al. 2015). We show that the generalisations established in Hannahs 2009, Hannahs 2011, and Hannahs 2013 are largely borne out, but there are additional lexical and phonological complications.

Specifically, we show that these two processes are subject to lexical frequency effects that go in opposite directions. While this seems at first paradoxical, we go on to show that the frequency effects make sense given what we know about phonological processes generally and what we know about Welsh phonotactics specifically.

The organization of this paper is as follows. We first review Hannahs's foot-based account of the facts. We then turn to our Twitter data testing Hannahs's claims, but also considering additional variables. We show that: i) the phenomena are gradient; and ii) that they are subject to lexical frequency effects. We then argue that these effects are, in fact, to be expected and we justify that claim by looking at further data from another corpus.

Shisha-Halevy, Ariel, “Work notes on Modern Welsh narrative syntax (III): converbs in narrative”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 23 (2022): 69–114.

This study, a suggested, sketched chapter of Kate Roberts's narrative grammar, examines the Modern Welsh converb category, a specific adverbial-status verb form. It proposes to establish a distinction between the paradigm of prepositional phrases, relatively open (unlimited), and the limited, grammaticalised (formalised) paradigm of preposition-homonyms, prefixed to infinitives (alias verb-noun), the converb paradigm.

Goldstein, David M., “The Old Irish article”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 23 (2022): 1–34.

Although the Old Irish article in is standardly described as a marker of definiteness, it also co-occurs with indefinite nouns. This phenomenon has long been known in the literature, but thus far even an adequate descriptive account of it has proven elusive. This article advances two claims about the distribution of in. First, indefinite referents introduced by in become the focal centre of the discourse. Second, in co-occurs with both definite and indefinite noun phrases because it is a signal to the addressee to retrieve or establish a mental representation of the referent. Although the distribution of in is unusual within Indo-European, it is actually predicted by the reference hierarchy of Dryer (2014). The Old Irish article is thus of particular importance for our understanding of the typology of article systems and referential marking.

Dunmore, Stuart, “Oracy and ideology in contemporary Gaelic: conceptions of fluency and its perceived decline subsequent to immersion schooling”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 23 (2022): 35–68.

Notwithstanding the considerable extent of intergenerational disruption within contemporary Gaelic communities in Scotland, the development of national language policy has tended to focus on Gaelic-medium, immersion education (GME) as a means of revitalising the language. Gaelic education is prioritised alongside increasing language use and promoting a positive image of the language in the most recent iteration of the National Gaelic Language Plan (2018–23) as was the case in the two previous Plans (Bòrd na Gàidhlig 2007, 2012). Yet fine-grained and mixed methodological research conducted by the author found extensive evidence that Gaelic tends not to be used to a substantial degree by former GME students, years after their formal schooling is completed. In this article I focus on previously unpublished qualitative data which illustrate understandings of oracy and fluency among interview participants (N=46) and their perceptions of language attrition since attending immersion education in childhood. As the analysis of interview material shows, such demonstrable attrition of Gaelic oracy years after immersion provides clear challenges to current language planning priorities in Scotland.

Bichlmeier, Harald, “On the etymology of the river-name Ruhr and some of its Central-European cognates: Celtic or not Celtic – that is the question”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 22 (2021): 15–32.

Traditionally, the river-name Ruhr and its siblings are said to be derived from the root PIE *reuH - 'tear up, dig up' (outdated form of reconstruction: *reu-, *reu-, *ru - [IEW 868]) and they are regarded as part of the so-called 'Old European hydronymy'. Reviewing the literature on the river-names Ruhr, Rur, Rulles, and the place-name Ruhla, we find that two different pre-forms tend to be reconstructed, *rūr° and * rur°. It can be shown that by applying a sound-law generally accepted in Indo-European linguistics (Dybo's Law), the pre-form must be reconstructed as * rur°, even if we start from the root mentioned above (PIE *ruH-ró- > Late (Western-)PIE * ruró-). But as the semantics of that root appears to be not very satisfactory, further roots are tried as starting-points for etymologizing the names in question. The following roots are possible from a structural/phonological point of view: a) PIE *h3reuH- 'shout, roar': PIE *h3ruH-ró- > late PIE *(h3 )ruró -; b) PIE *h2 reu - 'shine, sparkle (reddishly)': PIE * h2 ru- ró- > late PIE *( h2 )ruró -; c) PIE *h3 reu - 'move quickly, dash forward': PIE * h3 ru- ró- > late PIE *(h3 )ruró -. Two language groups are attested in the areas, where the rivers are situated: Germanic and Celtic. But out of the three roots just mentioned none is continued in Germanic and only PIE *h2 reu- 'shine, sparkle (reddishly)' and PIE *h3 reu- 'move quickly, dash forward' are continued in Celtic. A formation from another root, PIE * preu- 'jump' (* pru-ró- > PCelt. * []ruró-) would give the correct result in Celtic, but the root does not have descendants in any Celtic language. Thus we arrive at the result that the river names, which are all on potentially Celtic territory, are most probably Celtic. The names meant either 'the quick(ly flowing) one' or 'the gleaming one' – both solutions are semantically typical for the oldest layers of hydronyms. No decision between these two results is possible. But as we can offer an etymology now anchored in a single Indo-European language (group), there is no reason anymore to regard these names as 'voreinzelsprachlich' and thus part of the 'Old European hydronymy'. It remains to be researched, whether all the hydronyms traditionally derived from the root PIE *reuH - 'tear up, dig up' (outdated form of reconstruction: *reu-, *reu-, *ru-) are really necessarily to be connected with this root, now that three other roots (PIE *h3reuH- 'shout, roar', PIE * h2reu- 'shine, sparkle (reddishly)', PIE *h3 reu - 'move quickly, dash forward') offer phonologically and semantically possible starting-points for etymologies.

(source: Ingenta Connect)
Rodway, Simon, “The syntax of absolute verbal forms in early Welsh poetry: a survey”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 22 (2021): 33–104.

This paper undertakes a comprehensive survey of the syntax of absolute forms of verbs in the corpus of early Welsh poetry known as hengerdd. Comparisons are made with the syntax of absolute forms in Old Irish, in Old Welsh and Old Breton, in Middle Welsh court poetry of the twelfth century onwards, and with those found in Middle Welsh prose texts.

Meelen, Marieke, and David Willis, “Towards a historical treebank of Middle and Early Modern Welsh, part I: workflow and POS tagging”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 22 (2021): 125–154.

This article introduces the working methods of the Parsed Historical Corpus of the Welsh Language (PARSHCWL). The corpus is designed to provide researchers with a tool for automatic exhaustive extraction of instances of grammatical structures from Middle and Modern Welsh texts in a way comparable to similar tools that already exist for various European languages. The major features of the corpus are outlined, along with the overall architecture of the workflow needed for a team of researchers to produce it. In this paper, the two first stages of the process, namely pre-processing of texts and automated part-of-speech (POS) tagging are discussed in some detail, focusing in particular on major issues involved in defining word boundaries and in defining a robust and useful tagset.

Jaskuła, Krzysztof, “English loanwords in the Irish of Iorras Aithneach: new vowels in a government and licensing analysis”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 22 (2021): 1–14.

The Irish of Iorras Aithneach differs somewhat from the other varieties of Irish. Among other things, this regional variety is slightly irregular as regards the treatment of loanwords from English. For example, in Iorras Aithneach an epenthetic vowel [e] is regularly inserted in certain clusters, but irregularly in other consonant groups (Ó Curnáin 2007). New vowels may also precede certain initial sounds and follow some final consonants in English loanwords. Since Ó Curnáin's (2007) book is the most recent and most extensive study of any Irish dialect ever undertaken, it seems a very appropriate source of information and analysis. The issues addressed in this paper are as follows. First, what are the reasons for epenthesis in loanwords in the Irish of Iorras Aithneach? Second, why is Iorras Aithneach epenthesis in borrowings from English irregular? Third, and marginal, what is the reason for prosthetic vowels on both word edges in Iorras Aithneach? The phonological model used in this paper is Government Phonology in its recent version.

Mees, Bernard, “Left branch extraction and clitic placement in Gaulish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 22 (2021): 105–124.

The inscriptional remains of Gaulish preserve syntactic behaviours that are not expected from the perspective of the diachronic schemes usually posited for the development of early Insular Celtic syntax from Proto-Indo-European. Widespread evidence is attested, particularly for the behaviour of clitics, that does not seem reconcilable with many of the assumptions made in previous studies regarding the nature of the syntax of Proto-Celtic. Gaulish also evidently features scrambling-type phenomena such as left branch extraction that are not usually thought to appear in other Celtic languages. An analysis which begins with an assessment of these features leads to a more empirically predicated and consistent understanding of the early development of Celtic word order than has been proffered previously.

Rodway, Simon, “The ogham inscriptions of Scotland and Brittonic Pictish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 21 (2020): 173–234.
In this paper, I examine the evidence brought forward by Katherine Forsyth in support of the hypothesis that the 'Pictish' ogham inscriptions of Scotland are linguistically Celtic. Having examined the five most promising inscriptions minutely, I conclude that they are in fact not Celtic, and that 'Celtic-looking' sequences in them are due to coincidence. Thus, the language of this corpus of inscriptions remains unknown.
Eska, Joseph F., “Interarticulatory timing and Celtic mutations”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 21 (2020): 235–255.
After providing an analysis of Celtic phonology as per the approach to phonology known as Laryngeal Realism, this paper addresses the differing realizations of the two mutations common to Goidelic and Brittonic, the first lenition and nasalization. It is proposed that differences in interarticulatory timing between consecutive segments led to the attested differing realizations of these mutations. Some attention is also paid to the differing realizations of nasalization between Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
Meelen, Marieke, and Silva Nurmio, “Adjectival agreement in Middle and Early Modern Welsh native and translated prose”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 21 (2020): 1–28.
This paper investigates adjectival agreement in a group of Middle Welsh native prose texts and a sample of translations from around the end of the Middle Welsh period and the beginning of the Early Modern period. It presents a new methodology, employing tagged historical corpora allowing for consistent linguistic comparison. The adjectival agreement case study tests a hypothesis regarding position and function of adjectives in Middle Welsh, as well as specific semantic groups of adjectives, such as colours or related modifiers. The systematic analysis using an annotated corpus reveals that there are interesting differences between native and translated texts, as well as between individual texts. However, zooming in on our adjectival agreement case study, we conclude that these differences do not correspond to many of our hypotheses or assumptions about how certain texts group together. In particular, no clear split into native and translated texts emerged between the texts in our corpus. This paper thus shows interesting results for both (historical) linguists, especially those working on agreement, and scholars of medieval Celtic philology and translation texts.
Jouitteau, Mélanie, “Standard Breton, traditional dialects, and how they differ syntactically”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 21 (2020): 29–74.
This article provides a first attempt of a syntactic characterization of the different Breton varieties spoken in the twenty-first century. Standard Breton is addressed as one of the modern dialects spoken in Brittany, and its syntax is compared with that of traditional varieties. I first establish a baseline and inventory the syntactic parameters that differentiate the traditional dialects from each other: Kerne, Leon, Goelo, Treger (KLT in the West) and Gwenedeg (South East). I show that a robust body of syntactic variation characterizes traditional dialects. I next compare these with the Standard variety that emerged during the twentieth century, and show that if Standard Breton has original features of its own, it varies less with respect to traditional varieties than do traditional varieties among themselves.
Broderick, George, “Two Manx conversations (1948 and 1952)”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 21 (2020): 75–142.
This article contains editions and translations of two recordings of conversations between native Manx speakers from 1948 and 1952 respectively, with detailed linguistic discussion.
Sleeper, Morgan, “Place-name mutation variation in Wales and Patagonia”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 21 (2020): 143–172.
This study uses corpus data of modern conversational speech to examine variation in the mutation of place-names in Welsh as spoken in both Wales and Patagonia. Specifically, it considers how speakers from both areas mutate (or do not mutate) place-names following the nasal mutation trigger yn 'in', through a two-step statistical approach of conditional inference trees and random forests. Results show no significant difference in how speakers from Wales and Patagonia mutate place-names in this environment, but that the radical initial consonant, speaker age, and place-name type including the geographical, linguistic, and cultural 'Welshness' of the place-name all significantly affect mutation behaviour. Furthermore, while nasal mutation is present in the data, the results also illustrate the growing use of soft mutation as an alternate
Falileyev, Alexander, “Agweddau cymharol ar astudiaeth o enwau personol Cymraeg”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 20 (2019): 99–120.

This article briefly outlines the history of research into Welsh personal names and discusses the importance of Welsh data for general studies of onomastics. To illustrate this importance it also analyses the prehistory of the Venetic anthroponym Uposedos beside its Welsh comparanda. In turn, the data of other Indo-European languages is traditionally used for discussions of the Welsh onomastics, and such an analysis is carried out in the article for Welsh names containing the component (-)dog(-) as in Dogfael, Eldog. The difficult Old Welsh name Saturnbiu alongside similar early Welsh formations is treated from the point of historical linguistics, and this analysis also adduces semantic comparanda from outside the Indo-European world. The importance of extra-linguistic factors for this discussion is paramount and data from various medieval Christian traditions and ancient mythology is used to support the suggested reconstruction. The paper calls (again!) for the urgent necessity of the compilation of a Historical and Comparative Dictionary of Welsh Personal Names.

Mikhailova, Tatyana, “A reply to Repanšek’s review of Mikhailova, Gall’skij jazyk (JCL 19)”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 20 (2019): 121–126.
Hewitt, Steve, “Review article: a cutting-edge analysis of Breton phonological data”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 20 (2019): 127–179.
Bloch-Trojnar, Maria, “A corpus-based perspective on the formation of passive potential adjectives in Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 20 (2019): 1–29.

This paper demonstrates that a quantitative frequency analysis of the data (Baayen 1992, 1993) from the New Corpus for Ireland (Nua-Chorpas na hÉireann) can shed new light on certain problems inherent in a purely qualitative analysis of passive potential adjectives as proposed in Bloch-Trojnar (2016). The range and status of so- and in- derivatives (including derivational doublets) are discussed on the basis of their semantics, distribution and frequency and it is argued that both so- and in- should be regarded as exponents of potential or objective adjectives in Irish. The respective derivatives show no marked differences in token frequencies, which does not allow us to classify one or the other as being more entrenched or less productive, since in both we find a comparable proportion of high and low frequency items. A corpus analysis allows us to establish that the range of in- derivatives is expanding at the expense of so- derivatives, but this expansion has not yet reached the systemic level of productivity restrictions. The semantic and syntactic constraints on the rule do not allow us to disjunctively specify the exact domains of the prefixes. In the class of transitive verbs so- shows a preference for verbs of motion, and in- for verbs of measure, transfer of possession, judgement verbs and SE verbs. Another piece of evidence in favour of subsuming so- and in- under one word formation rule is that the negative prefix do- attaches indiscriminately to both so- and in- formations.

Hammond, Michael, “Voiceless nasals in Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 20 (2019): 31–60.

Welsh is described as having two series of nasals, a voiced series [m, n, ŋ], and a voiceless series, transcribed as [m, n, ŋ] or [mh, nh, ŋh]. In this paper, I give a synchronic analysis of the nasals and argue that the second series are phonologically sequences of a nasal followed by [h], i.e. [mh, nh, ŋh]. Moreover, I show that the properties and distribution of these consonants all follow from this assumption. The argument for the analysis comes from: phonetics, the distribution of the mutation system, syllabification, the distribution of [h], poetry, and dialect data.

Imhoff, Helen, “DIL ‘de(i)n’ indeclinable?”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 20 (2019): 61–98.

This article discusses the early Irish adjective de(i)n, found particularly frequently in verse, in order to investigate the validity of DIL's statement that it is indeclinable. A collection of examples of the adjective is analysed with regard to statements made by Meyer, Pokorny and Marstrander concerning the stem of de(i)n, and DIL's claim is assessed against this background. Problematic examples are discussed in detail and a range of interpretations is considered. In conclusion, while none of the theories put forward can explain all instances of de(i)n given in this article, DIL's statement regarding indeclinability should not be accepted without question.

Rees, Iwan Wyn, “Length and quality in Welsh mid vowels: new evidence from mid-Wales”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 19 (2018): 157–208.
Previous accounts of the vowel systems of Welsh (e.g. G. E. Jones 1984; Ball and Williams 2001; Awbery 2009; Mayr and Davies 2011; Hannahs 2013) have focused mainly, if not exclusively, on differences of length, i.e. distinctions between long and short vowels, thereby assuming that vowel quality is largely determined by vowel length in Welsh. However, the empirical quantitative results presented in this article will show that the situation is far more complex, at least in two distinctive areas of mid Wales where a substantial degree of variation can be seen in the quality of various vowels. Indeed, it will be clear from the discussion that follows that vowel length is only one factor with which vowel quality varies, and that other linguistic factors appear to be equally as important, e.g. the vowel's position within the word (i.e. the syllabic environment), and the phonetic context (e.g. whether the vowel is followed by a single consonant or a cluster in stressed penultimates). It will therefore be argued that previous assumptions that Welsh vowels of the same length behave uniformly across all contexts do not appear to hold, and that the effects of other relevant linguistic factors have been largely overlooked.
Awbery, G. M., “Subscribers to A glossary of the Demetian dialect of North Pembrokeshire (1910) by William Meredith Morris”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 19 (2018): 209–228.
A glossary of the Demetian dialect by William Meredith Morris, one of the earliest books describing the Welsh dialect of a specific area, was published in 1910, with the support of subscribers who undertook to buy one or more copies. Their names are given in a list at the end of the book, and this article attempts to establish who they were, and why they would have agreed to support this venture. The subscribers appear to fall broadly into two distinct groups. There are members of the family, friends and neighbours who would have known the author personally; and there are public figures and academics who subscribed regularly to books on a wide range of topics. There is some overlap between the two groups, and this suggests how the author may have been able to broaden his search for subscribers beyond his own local and professional networks.
Roma, Elisa, “Nasalization after inflected nominals in the Old Irish glosses: a reassessment”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 19 (2018): 1–30.
Thurneysen (1905) surveyed all instances of initial nasalization or lack thereof after inflected words in the following Old Irish texts: the Würzburg, St. Gall and Milan glosses (up to f. 74d in the case of the latter). Forms from other texts, such as the Cambrai homily, were occasionally compared. All instances in the Turin glosses were in fact listed. This paper attempts to reassess some principles for the presence or absence of nasalization, and relies on complete and newly gathered data from the Würzburg, St. Gall, Turin and Milan glosses.
Scherschel, Ricarda, Paul Widmer, and Erich Poppe, “Towards a multivariate classification of event noun constructions in Middle Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 19 (2018): 31–68.
This article proposes a classification of Middle Welsh constructions with event nouns, the only productive non-finite verbal category in this language. It is based on a catalogue of criteria which have been suggested in General Linguistics for a description of linked states of affairs, viz. variables that relate to the assertive profile, the semantic dependence, coordination, the syntactic level of attachment, the degree of deverbalization, the degree of nominalization, and negation operator scope. The survey shows that Middle Welsh event nominalizations on their own assume functions covered by different non-finite structures known from related Indo-European languages (e.g., participles, verbal nouns, supines, infinitives, compounds etc.). Furthermore, event nominalizations substantially contribute to the construction of narratives on a higher level of syntactic organization.
Kunze, Jana, “Some observations on the syntax of the Welsh Gesta Romanorum”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 19 (2018): 69–85.
This paper discusses some syntactic features of the Welsh translation of the Gesta Romanorum, which was produced in the sixteenth century on the basis of an English source. It belongs to the transitional period of Early Modern Welsh and appears to show traces of linguistic influence of the English source. The features selected for discussion here are (i) word-order patterns, (ii) the use of object pronouns, and (iii) the syntax of relative and copula clauses.
Lash, Elliott, and Aaron Griffith, “Coordinate subjects, expletives, and the EPP in Early Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 19 (2018): 87–156.
This paper examines subject-verb agreement in Early-Irish sentences with coordinate subjects. We claim that Early Irish (Old and Middle Irish) is a 'variable agreement' language, which exhibits both singular and plural agreement with coordinate subjects. The type of agreement depends on adjacency between subject and verb and the valency of the verb. In particular, unaccusative and passive verbs exhibit both singular and plural agreement more frequently than transitive verbs. We argue that this is due to the availability of a default third person singular null locative expletive item, which controls singular agreement. Moreover, unaccusative and passive verbs also allow locative inversion with other PPs, leading to the same singular agreement. Furthermore, we suggest that, in contrast to Modern Irish, which lacks such an expletive, Early Irish could license its presence in intransitive/passive sentences because that stage of the language exhibited EPP-effects.
Awbery, G. M., “An early recording of Welsh from the Berliner Lautarchiv; David Evans at Ruhleben Camp in 1917”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 18 (2017): 49–102.
During the First World War an extensive programme of sound recording was carried out by the Königliche Preussische Phonographische Kommission. Civilian and military internees in POW camps in Germany were recorded, in order to collect samples of as many different languages and dialects as possible. Among them was one Welsh-speaker, David Evans from Blaenffos in Pembrokeshire. This paper explores the background to the recordings which he made in 1917, and examines in detail the actual material recorded.
Rodway, Simon, “A note on the Ogham inscription from Buckquoy, Orkney”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 18 (2017): 103–115.
I tentatively propose a new Gaelic interpretation of an ogham inscription on a spindle-whorl from Buckquoy in Orkney. In this interpretation, the spindle-whorl would be a gift from a man to a female spinster.
Broderick, George, “The Manx verbal noun revisited”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 18 (2017): 117–125.
This note looks at the thesis proposed by Christopher Lewin that the verbal noun in Manx over time became 'verbalised' or a 'true verb'. My note looks at three aspects of Lewin's thesis: (a) the verbal noun itself, (b) nominal prepositions and (c) the attachment of * ag to verbal-nouns with vocalic anlaut; and I suggest that all three are connected in the context of the onset of syncretism in Manx Gaelic and thereby reach a different conclusion.
Hewitt, Steve, “Neo-speakers of endangered languages: theorizing failure to learn the language properly as creative post-vernacularity”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 18 (2017): 127–154.
Harlos, Axel, “Decoding Middle Welsh relative clauses”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 18 (2017): 1–28.
Nominal case marking has reached a high degree of syncretism in Middle Welsh, and nominal forms are distinguished only for singular and plural. Additionally, Middle Welsh does not possess relative pronouns which can morphologically or syntactically signal an antecedent's precise syntactic function within a relative clause. This means that in certain constructions morpho-syntactic cues may not always be sufficient to define syntactic relations in Middle Welsh relative clauses. The following study is based on the Four Branches of the Mabinogi and selections from Middle Welsh historiographical texts. It uses a statistical approach to evaluate the frequencies with which ambiguous syntactic relations appear in Middle Welsh relative clauses, and assesses the contribution of other concepts like accessibility, animacy, co-text and general knowledge of the world available within a clause for the assignment of syntactic relations.
Coughlan, Eileen, “Political language: Irish in Northern Ireland from the Shaw’s Road Gaeltacht to the Good Friday Agreement”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 18 (2017): 29–47.
This article discusses the changes in the image of the Irish-language movement in Northern Ireland (NI) from the Hunger Strikes of 1981 to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. In this time, it underwent several metamorphoses. In the early twentieth century, the Irish-language revival movement was largely grassroots and apolitical, although mostly nationalist. However, it became more politicized as time went on, and in the 1970s and 1980s Irish was used by republican prisoners as a secret code and scribbled on the walls of prison cells smeared with faeces during the dirty protests. Under increased funding from the British direct rule administration in the 1980s and 1990s, the language was portrayed as something that could bring the divided communities of NI together, but faced with unionist resentment and an 'alternative' minority language, it was clearly categorized during the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) negotiations as a nationalist language. The term 'depoliticization' has often been used to describe the process of making Irish a 'safe' language for all in NI to enjoy, but as is shown here, this process has been far from linear, with any progress made often lost just as quickly.
Schreiner, Sylvia L. R., and Andrew Carnie, “The syntax and semantics of Scottish Gaelic a' dol aL”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 17 (2016): 1–30.
We claim that the 'going to' (a' dol a L) construction in Scottish Gaelic has undergone a reanalysis from an embedding verb-of-motion construction into an aspectual particle functional head, which expresses simple prospective aspect in meaning (locating the time of the event not after speech time (like future tense), but after the time already established by tense). In so doing it fills a gap in the paradigm of aspectual particles. A' dol a L is permitted in all three tenses, but not with other aspectual particles. In these ways a' dol a L parallels the behavior of the imperfective particle a' and perfect particle air. We take these facts to indicate that a' dol a L represents a distinction in aspect rather than tense. Using a number of constituency tests, we also show that despite its surface similarity to a complex embedding structure, it actually behaves like a single particle.
Hoyne, Mícheál, “Structural ambiguity and resumptive pronouns: the pragmatics of the transitive ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ relatives in Modern Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 17 (2016): 31–95.
On the basis of a corpus of transitive relative clauses from authentic texts this paper seeks to shed light on the 'direct' and 'indirect' transitive relative clauses in Modern Irish. 'Direct' transitive relative clauses in Irish are sometimes structurally ambiguous, that is, it is sometimes unclear whether the antecedent is the subject or the direct object of the relative clause. The present paper seeks to identify how such ambiguous clauses are correctly interpreted. It is frequently claimed that the 'indirect' relative is used to disambiguate potentially ambiguous object-relative constructions. This paper argues, however, that the use of the indirect relative is better explained by accessibility theory. The claim is that the 'indirect' relative is used when the antecedent is less accessible at the point at which it is reactivated in the relative clause.
Lewin, Christopher, “The syntax of the verbal noun in Manx Gaelic”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 17 (2016): 147–238.
While accounts of the syntax of the element usually called the 'verbal noun' are available for different periods of Irish and Scottish Gaelic, as well as the Brythonic languages, the details of verbal noun constructions in Manx have never been fully described. Thomson (1952: 285–9) deals cursorily with the topic, and touches on various aspects in his grammar of Early Manx (Thomson 1953: 51–4, 62–9), in two lectures (Thomson 1969, 1986) and in commentaries on Manx texts (Thomson 1981, 1998). The matter is also discussed briefly by Broderick (2010: 345–6). Many of their ideas and suggestions will be explored in depth here. This paper focuses particularly on the way pronominal objects of verbal nouns are expressed (whether by means of a possessive proclitic or as an object personal pronoun), and how this is related to the changing analysis of the verbal noun in Manx (and to varying extents the other Celtic languages), from a noun to a non-finite verb. The shift is examined in terms of reanalysis and grammaticalization, with particular reference to the common cross-linguistic phenomenon of the development of verbal nouns into infinitives and other non-finite verbal elements.
Shisha-Halevy, Ariel, “Work notes on modern Welsh narrative syntax (II): presentatives in narrative”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 17 (2016): 97–146.
Internet Archive: <link>
The paper assigns, in a 'pointillistic' structural profile, narrative functions to dyma and dyna, formal presentatives, in syntactic detail and macrosyntactic patterning, on the database of Kate Roberts's short stories and novellas. The extensive distribution and rich functional range of these elements matches their formal complexity and narratological significance. This presentative pair, expanded by verbal, substantival or pronominal presentates, form six narrative tenses, distinct formally and functionally, in complex interplay with their environment.

In fact, however, dyma and dyna comprise doubly two homonyms: dyma/dyna presentatives, and dyma/dyna referential pronouns, typically rhematic or focal.

Following a descriptive breakdown of the syntactic properties of the presentatives, the Presentative Narrative Tenses (PNTs) I to VI are discussed.

Functionally striking and statistically prevalent is (PNT I) # dyma + noun phrase/personal pronoun + yn-converb2#, where we encounter two homonymous sub-tenses: the first with specific scenic or theatrical ('dramatic', narratologically scene-setting) semantics; the second non-scenic, but tagmemically functional. It is noteworthy that the entire presentative clause is high-level, narratologically rhematic or focal to the preceding text: it contains the key event. The presentative signals immediacy between narrator, reader and narrated character.

Two presentative narrative tenses are non-verbal: adverbial presentates (dramatic presentation of motion) and scenic presentation of nouns.
Dedio, Stefan, “Absolute and conjunct forms in early Middle Welsh gnomic poetry”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 16 (2015): 61–80.
Middle Welsh poetry and proverbs display a number of absolute forms of the 3rd singular present and preterite indicative in -(h)id, -(h)yd, and -(h)awwd which are – with four possible exceptions in Culhwch ac Olwen – absent from Middle Welsh prose. Complementing earlier work by Rodway, this study aims to determine to what extent the forms present in early Middle Welsh gnomic poetry represent an intact absolute/conjunct distinction (as known from Old Irish), and to what extent they were archaisms used for stylistic reasons or to meet metrical requirements.
Shisha-Halevy, Ariel, “Work-notes on Modern Welsh narrative syntax (I) fe- and mi- revisited: from macro-syntax to narratology”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 16 (2015): 81–111.
Following an early brief attempt at a formal-and-functional resolution of the pre-verbal elements fe- and mi- in narrative (Shisha-Halevy 1995: Excurse II), these two discourse-function converters are examined again, as part of a comprehensive narrative-grammatical study of Kate Roberts's fiction.
Parina, Elena, “Semantics of Welsh dur: synchronic analysis and language-contact considerations”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 16 (2015): 1–39.
This article discusses the semantic shift that can be observed in the Welsh word dur. The word is already encountered in Old Welsh (glossing the Latin adjective dirus and translated as 'hard, cruel', and it lives on in Modern Welsh, with the meaning 'steel', with Middle Welsh texts showing the polysemy stage. The distribution of senses is different in the language of poetry as opposed to the language of prose, the latter being much closer to the modern usage. It has been suggested that the polysemy 'hard; steel' was borrowed from Latin, where supposedly an ellipsis from ferrum dūrum has taken place. The same semantic shift is attested in Middle Irish crúaid 'hard', nominalized with the meaning 'steel'. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the relationship between the shifts in these three languages. First, Celtic *dūro- could either be analysed as a loanword from Latin or else could be taken as an inherited Celtic root. It could even be suggested that the 'steel' sense could be a part of this root's meaning in Celtic. If *dūro- is a Latin loanword both in the British languages and in Irish, different scenarios for the development of the polysemy of Irish crúaid 'hard' could be suggested.
Kersulec, Pierre-Yves, “Le marqueur singulatif breton -enn a djoint à un nom singulier dénombrable”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 16 (2015): 41–59.
This article suggests a new approach to the Breton singulative marker enn. When added to a countable singular noun, it must be considered as a particular type of singulative. In some cases, the derived noun can be interpreted as a particular type of the referent of the base noun via a morphological associative rule. In other cases, the derived noun has an analogical meaning based on one of the properties of the base noun.
Ó Broin, Brian, “New urban Irish: pidgin, creole, or bona fide dialect? The phonetics and morphology of city and Gaeltacht speakers systematically compared”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 15 (2014): 69–91.
This article compares the phonetics and morphology of Irish spoken in the Gaeltacht with that spoken in Irish cities. Informants were identified by randomly selecting newsreaders and chat show hosts on Gaeltacht and urban Irish-language radio stations. Recordings of the speakers were transcribed and then analysed for morphological and phonetic accuracy. City speakers demonstrated a move towards simplified morphology and phonology, making fewer than 50% of expected changes, while Gaeltacht speakers retained the language's traditional forms, making more than 90% of expected changes. It was discovered that the city speakers, while apparently speaking stable idiolects, each returned very different rates, suggesting that the cities do not yet have stable Irish dialects. The Gaeltacht speakers all returned very similar rates.
Ó Baoill, Colm, “Research note: a Scottish Gaelic tmesis”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 15 (2014): 93–96.
Comparison of two Scottish Gaelic poems concerned with boats suggests that the expression a cheart-rèiginn, 'with great force', occurring in both poems must derive, by tmesis, from the normal Gaelic air èiginn.
Awbery, G. M., “Problems with phrasal compounds in Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 15 (2014): 3–38.
There are strong similarities between phrasal compounds in Welsh and ordinary NPs, but they also differ from each other in a number of ways. This paper describes these similarities and differences, and explores in theory-neutral terms their implications for the formal grammatical description of Welsh.
Jaskuła, Krzysztof, “A pragmatic approach to Old Irish consonant qualities”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 15 (2014): 39–51.
This paper is concerned with the problem of how many consonant qualities the Old Irish language displayed. Most scholars in the first half of the twentieth century apparently favoured a three-way contrast, i.e. i-quality, u-quality and a-quality. However, since in the 1960s the idea of a two-way distinction between palatalized and non-palatalized consonantal phonemes appeared in the world of Celtic studies, there has been a debate as regards which division is better and more faithful to the phonological reality of Old Irish. Recently, McCone (2011) and Anderson (2011) brought this issue to public attention again. This article is a reaction to their approaches. I propose below that, however many phonetic qualities may have existed in Old Irish, it is most pragmatic to recognize only two.
MacKinnon, Kenneth, “A language on the move: geographical mobility of Gaelic speakers in contemporary Scotland”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 15 (2014): 53–68.
In 1991 the population census presented data on annual migration of Gaelic speakers for the first time, and again in greater detail in 2001. Flows of Gaelic- and non-Gaelic-speaking populations can thus be assessed and analysed. These movements between relevant areas for Gaelic diasporise Gaelic speakers from 'heartland' areas into lowland and urban Scotland. In 1991 40% lived in such areas, increasing to 44% in 2001. This process is gaining momentum, with mobility of Gaelic speakers matching the majority population at over 11% annually. By 2011 almost half of all Gaelic speakers were living outwith the traditional Highlands and Hebrides area. Non-Gaelic speakers increasingly move to the 'Gaelic' areas and weaken the incidence of Gaelic locally. The increasing rate of marriage and family-formation between Gaelic and non-Gaelic partners weakens Gaelic in intergenerational transmission. In 1991 only one Gaelic speaker in three lived in an all-Gaelic-speaking household. Within ten years this proportion had weakened to one in five. A model of the causes of Gaelic-to-English language-shift can be developed. Increasing geographical mobility and diminished life-chances cause Gaelic speakers to leave their home areas. Non-Gaelic-speakers are drawn in. The majority of Gaelic speakers come to live as a minority amongst non-Gaelic speaking populations elsewhere. Young Gaelic speakers increasingly meet and form families with non-Gaelic-speaking partners. Without powerful Gaelic institutions outwith the family, English predominates in family life, and Gaelic ceases to be transmitted. This can successfully be countered by the development of Gaelic-medium education, Gaelic-language media, and Gaelic social institutions. The results of such language-planning by Bòrd na Gàidhlig, MG Alba, and the education system can be illustrated demographically from census data, and some measure of success can be demonstrated.
Bisagni, Jacopo, “The origins of the preterite of the Old Irish copula and substantive verb: an overview and new ideas”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 14 (2012): 1–29.
As is well known, Old Irish presented a morphological and functional distinction between the copula and the so-called 'substantive verb'. While in the present indicative the former is based on the PIE root *h1es- and the latter on PIE *steh2- , all other tenses and moods of both verbs are formed from the PIE root *bhuH-. Although these forms have often attracted the attention of scholars, several details of their prehistory are still unclear. This article will focus on the origins of the preterital forms: in particular, a solution for the striking difference of vocalism between the 3rd singular of the substantive verb (boí) and the copula (absolute ba, conjunct -bo, -bu) will be proposed. It will also be shown that the answer to this specific problem can shed some light on the Irish differentiation of the two forms of the verb 'to be', a process which, as will be suggested, may depend on the same mechanism which brought about the long-debated distinction between absolute and conjunct flexion in Old Irish.
Poppe, Erich, “Y’r bordeu yd aethant: locative adverbs in Middle Welsh prose, their placement and pragmatics”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 14 (2012): 31–66.

This paper examines the placement of obligatory adverbial phrases in positive main clauses in Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi, in the first part (Y Keis) of Ystoryaeu Seint Greal, and in Ystorya Bown o Hamtwn in which a third singular or plural form of mynet is combined with a locative phrase containing the preposition y or at. Within the individual texts, considerable positional variation occurs, but this variation can be shown to be explicable in terms of a contextual and pragmatic analysis. The comparison of the positional patterns and their narrative uses in the three texts shows a striking stability of the pragmatic principle for the placement of constituents in positive main clauses in the language of Middle Welsh prose – even if, as it may be the case in a few examples from Ystorya Bown, the syntactic choices of the Middle Welsh translator have been influenced by his Anglo-Norman source. Finally, some promising paths for future research are delineated.

Zair, Nicholas, “Reconstructing the Brittonic future/present subjunctive”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 14 (2012): 87–110.
This article discusses the phonological and analogical developments of the inherited subjunctive/desiderative suffix *-āse/o- in the Brittonic languages, which formed the Welsh and Cornish present subjunctive and the Breton future. It is demonstrated that, once the treatment of intervocalic *s > *h is understood, many of the forms of the future/present subjunctive can be explained by regular sound changes. Middle Breton is more conservative than Middle Welsh in preserving h only in the plural endings: Welsh generalized the characteristic plural h into the singular endings as well. The verb 'to be' differs from the regular verb both in reflecting originally separate subjunctive and desiderative stems, and in tending to have the British accent on its initial syllable. As a result of sound change and the different developments of the verb 'to be', allomorphy within the future/present subjunctive paradigms and between 'to be' and other verbs was extreme, and this led to a large number of by-forms created by paradigmatic levelling.
Roberts, Seren Haf, and Virginia C. Mueller Gathercole, “Talking of objects: how different are Welsh and English nouns?”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 14 (2012): 67–85.

Welsh structure differs from English with regard to object references. English emphasizes individuation, making a clear distinction between singular and plural reference. In Welsh, however, the complex number marking system makes the number reference of nouns much more opaque allowing a much stronger emphasis on collections than in English. While evidence suggests that learning collective nouns is difficult, this may relate to English speakers specifically because the structure of English emphasizes individuals. The basic forms of some Welsh nouns refer to collections and modified with a unit ending to individuate one from the collection (e.g. coed 'trees' versus coeden 'tree'). Such differences may have both cognitive and linguistic consequences. This study examines noun type distributions in Welsh and English to determine the extent to which the two languages differ with regard to number reference. Samples of the most frequent nouns in Welsh and English texts, with their type and token frequencies, were classified into different noun categories. The results showed a strong similarity across the two languages for some noun types (e.g. singular/plural nouns and collective nouns). However, an additional collection/unit classification in Welsh accounted for 2.5% of all noun types, with collection forms occurring almost as often as unit forms. Where plural forms accounted for 25.4% of noun tokens in English, very few plural forms were used in Welsh (1.25%). The opacity of number reference in Welsh may have important effects on the way Welsh-speaking children learn their language and thus impact on the theories of language acquisition.

Zimmer, Stefan, “The name of Arthur – a new etymology”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 13 (2009): 131–136.

The name of Arthur, the mythical war-leader and ideal king, probably referring to a second-century Roman commander in Britain, still lacks an etymology convincing in every detail. This short note reviews earlier proposals and presents a new explanation. Welsh Arthur < Latin Artōrius is the Latinized form of a Celtic patronym *Arto-rīg-ios, a derivative of *Arto-rīXs = Old Irish Art-rí.

Jones, Bob Morris, “The modification of adjectives in Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 13 (2009): 45–116.

This study shows that adjectives in Welsh can be modified by various phrases in pre-adjectival position, post-adjectival position, and in a more complex configuration in which a modifying expression precedes a prepositional phrase which contains the modified adjective. Welsh is similar in some respects to other languages, but it is distinctive in the use of plain adjectives and not de-adjectival adverbs, a relatively extensive use of post-modification, and the very distinctive use of a prepositional configuration. Formal analyses, using X-bar configurations, consider whether modified adjectival phrases can be described as Degree Phrases or Adjective Phrases, and whether the modifiers are heads, specifiers, or adjuncts. The different syntax of the prepositional configuration is discussed separately. The analysis also considers multiple modification, and various constraints.

Hannahs, S. J., “Welsh svarabhakti: sonority sequencing and foot structure”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 13 (2009): 21–44.

It has long been observed that certain final consonant clusters in Welsh may provoke vowel epenthesis (svarabhakti), deletion of one member of the cluster, or metathesis. These clusters consist of a consonant followed by [r], [l] or [n]; other sorts of final clusters are permitted. The occurrence of epenthesis, deletion or metathesis, moreover, depends not only on the type of cluster involved, but also on the prosodic size of the input form. I argue in this paper that these three processes – epenthesis, deletion and metathesis – are all directly connected. All arise in order to avoid a sonority sequencing violation: an obstruent followed by a sonorant in a final cluster represents illicit rising sonority in a coda. To account for the data at hand, the analysis will rely on the interaction between several constraints, including a constraint militating against epenthesis, a constraint militating against deletion, and a constraint working against metathesis. The interaction of these constraints serves to capture the effects of epenthesis, deletion and metathesis in avoiding a violation of the undominated 'sonority sequencing' constraint. In addition, prosodic structure will be shown to play a role in deciding between epenthesis (which occurs in the case of a monosyllabic input form), and deletion or metathesis (which occurs when the input form is bisyllabic). Finally, account will also be given for the fact that the epenthetic vowel is a copy of the stem vowel (rather than simply a 'default' vowel such as schwa) by means of a correspondence relation between the epenthetic vowel and the underlying stem vowel.

Awbery, G. M., “Pluralization in Welsh, and the need for phonologically null suffixes”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 13 (2009): 1–20.

Noun pluralization in Welsh involves a number of different strategies, and the alternations which result appear extremely complex and unpredictable. This paper is an attempt to provide a coherent account of this aspect of Welsh morphology, able to explain the wide variety of forms which occur. It will be argued too that the descriptive framework adopted here is not required solely to account for the patterns of noun pluralization, but will also be relevant when the focus is shifted to other aspects of Welsh morphology.

Poppe, Erich, “Expressions of negative polarity in the Middle Welsh Ystorya Bown de Hamtwn”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 13 (2009): 117–130.

Recent research into the development of the Welsh negation has shown that it follows the principle of Jespersen's Cycle, in which an originally emphatic negative-polarity expression gradually loses its emphasis and finally becomes the only, or at least the main, marker of negation. One important stage in this process is characterized by the occurrence of negative-polarity expressions with unambiguous adverbial force. In this article, I will analyse and classify the uses of dim as an expression of negative polarity in the Middle Welsh adaptation of the Anglo-Norman Geste de Boeve de Haumtone, Ystorya Bown de Hamtwn, and discuss a range of loan phrases that are used as negative-polarity items.

Awbery, G. M., “Welsh place-names and the syntax-semantics interface”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 12 (November, 2008): 1–16.

This paper examines the behaviour of definite and indefinite NPs in the sentence in Welsh, and compares the distribution patterns they display with those found in the case of NPs which are place-names. It argues that if clear generalizations are to be captured, it will be necessary to accept that not only syntactic, but also semantic factors must be taken into account. The grammatical patterns found in Welsh do not operate in a vacuum, and must take account of the reality which is being described.

Isaac, Graham R., “Brittonic voiceless spirants again”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 12 (November, 2008): 17–37.

The controversy surrounding the phonological and phonetic prehistory of the Neo-Brittonic voiceless spirants continues. This note defends the theory that they reflect voiceless aspirated geminate stops against some recent criticism, which has, however, failed to provide an adequate account of the issues involved, and has obscured several crucial concepts and meta-concepts.

Jones, Bob Morris, “The core and the periphery: the syntax of the Welsh ‘genitive of respect’”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 12 (November, 2008): 39–86.

This study examines a distinctive construction in Welsh which provides interesting data for discussing the role of the core and the periphery (Chomsky 1981). Most work on syntax focuses on the core but Culicover (1999) and Culicover and Jackendoff (1999) have promoted interest in the periphery, drawing attention to both its size and its importance. For the purposes of this study, an X-bar approach will be adopted for the formalization of core rules. Data which cannot be accounted for within these rules will be regarded as non-canonical. The Welsh construction which is examined in this study raises problems of phrase structure analysis. There are distributional reasons for considering it to be an AP, but it does not have the canonical internal syntax of an AP. The possibility therefore arises that we must establish non-canonical rules to account for this construction. We shall conclude that we have a non-canonical clause which has the distribution of an AP.

McLeod, Wilson, “Linguistic pan-Gaelicism: a dog that wouldn't hunt”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 12 (November, 2008): 87–120.

Although 'pan-Gaelic' rhetoric has been a recurring theme in language movements in Ireland and Scotland since the late nineteenth century, there have been no significant efforts to bring Irish and Scottish Gaelic closer together in linguistic terms. Instead, contact between the two speech communities has been relatively limited and intranational forms of linguistic nationalism have been dominant. This article analyses some of the key debates and decisions in corpus planning for Irish and Scottish Gaelic since the late nineteenth century, showing how potential opportunities to promote convergence were overlooked and how linguistic modernization has tended to increase the divergence between the two forms. Against this historical backdrop, the article considers the extent to which the promotion of linguistic convergence would have been a realistic goal and whether such efforts would have harmed broader language revitalization initiatives in Ireland and Scotland.

Mees, Bernard, “Case and genre in Gaulish: from Mont Auxois to the Pont d'Ancy”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 12 (November, 2008): 121–138.

A close textual examination of case-marking and role in Gaulish suggests that the instrumental (and ablative) formants and functions inherited from Indo-European remained largely independent in use from those of the other oblique cases. Although a distinct morphological locative seems to have been given up at a prehistoric stage, the Gaulish of the Roman period appears to have preserved a much fuller and more synthetic system of grammatical case than did any of the medieval Celtic languages. The practice of projecting Insular Celtic behaviours onto Continental Celtic (or even cross-linguistic abstractions derived from broader linguistic theory) should not serve as a substitute for analysing Gaulish inscriptions from the perspective of interlingual intertextuality and of properly contextualized epigraphic genre. Gaulish should be understood principally as a closely historicized inscriptional language, its attested expressions constrained by typical ancient Mediterranean epigraphic pragmatics, yet representing an idiosyncratic development of Celtic linguistic tradition nonetheless.

Isaac, Graham R., “The reflexes of the British diphthong *au”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 11 (2007): 23–47.

The paper revisits the question of the way the British diphthong *au is reflected in the extant Brittonic languages. The proposal that the correct chain of development was *au > > W u is upheld, the evidence for the alternative proposal, *au > * ō > tonic MW aw, being examined and found inadequate. Related issues of the origins of some forms of the conjugated prepositions, some etymologies and some further contingent matters are discussed.

Jaskuła, Krzysztof, “Old Irish rhyming patterns and the origins of svarabhakti”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 11 (2007): 49–76.

This paper focuses of two aspects of the Irish language. In particular, Old and Middle Irish poetry is subject to purely phonological analysis from the viewpoint of a theory of representations called Government Phonology. It is argued here that rhyming patterns which were employed in Old and Middle Irish poetry were established as early as in Primitive Irish and, more precisely, at the 'shwa stage' (some time before 500 AD). From the purely linguistic viewpoint, there seems to be no other explanation for the fact that Old Irish poetry allowed single voiceless stops to rhyme with clusters, e.g. [t] = [Rt], while voiced stops were incapable of rhyming with sequences of two consonants, e.g. [g] ≠ [rg]. Also the ability of homorganic clusters such as [Rd] to rhyme with heterorganic ones, e.g. [lg], can be explained only if we adopt the standpoint that the metrical abilities of words ending in such consonant groups were determined when the phonological structures of these clusters were identical, which was during the 'shwa stage'. The other feature of the development of Irish discussed here is the so-called Modern Irish svarabhakti. It is proposed that this vowel epenthesis in fact occurred just after the 'shwa stage', in contrast with traditional analyses of Irish. Such a view results from a phonological analysis of different consonant clusters which, according to the principles constituting the theoretical model adopted here, must have developed in ways predictable by the theory.

Manning, Paul, “A construction-based view of possessive and local case-marking in Middle and Modern Welsh relative clauses”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 11 (2007): 77–130.

Middle to Modern Welsh relative clauses feature two binary formal oppositions of complementizer selection and gap realization that have typically been taken to be in some sort of parallel distribution in such a way that a single independent variable (traditionally, constituent structure 'depth') can account for the realization of both. It is demonstrated that the two formal variables cross-cut one another distributionally, in such a way that no one single independent variable can account for both sets. The paper shows that the first set of complementizer selection in many construction types, particularly relativization on notional 'possessors', behaves in a manner that resembles case-marking as well as construction-type marking, so that relativization on objects of prepositions in possessive constructions coding possessors behaves in a manner systematically different from either objects of true locative prepositions or objects of prepositions that mark 'experiencers'. While complementizer selection and gap realization are not correlated distributionally, complementizer selection in possessive clauses enters into correlation with other variables of morpho-syntactic form, including PP NP word order, that are also diagnostic of clauses coding notional 'possession'. It is argued that only a construction-based or 'coding view' of syntax can take account of these data.

Bloch-Trojnar, Maria, “Verbs derived from agent nouns in Modern Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 11 (2007): 1–22.

The paper focuses on verbs which are derived from agent nouns in Modern Irish, e.g. siúinéir 'joiner' – ag siúinéireacht 'doing joinery work', ceardaí 'craftsman' – ag ceardaíocht 'working as a craftsman'. The analysis is carried out in the model of Lexeme Morpheme Base Morphology put forward by Beard (1995), whose cornerstone is the separation of the grammatical and formal aspect of word formation rules. As far as the grammatical plane is concerned, the input and output are specified. The rule operates on lexical, denominal and deverbal agents. The article argues that the resulting verbs form a separate lexical class of defective verbs which are confined to expressing progressive aspect and should be specified as [+progressive/ imperfective]. This would imply that the imperfective aspect in Irish is not only a grammatical but also a lexical category. As far as spell-out mechanisms are concerned, the abstract morphological relation is formally realised by a rule of affixation attaching the suffix: -(e)acht [WXt]. -íocht is not a separate ending but a contextually conditioned allomorph. The paper also briefly addresses the question of a sizeable group of forms terminating in -(e)acht and -íocht which are not attested in verbal usage. Either we have to do with actional nominalizations based on potential present participles or we are dealing with representatives of a separate lexical category, i.e. Nomina Essendi, which happens to be marked with homophonous affixes -(e)acht and -íocht.

Cheveau, L., “Les mutations consonantiques en breton vannetais littéraire et en breton lorientais”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 10 (2006): 1–15.

So far, no thorough study has been made about the Bas-Vannetais Breton dialect spoken in Lorient district. In this article, we shall study the system of initial consonant mutations in this dialect, compared to that of Literary Vannetais (which is based on Haut-Vannetais).


Le dialecte breton bas-vannetais parlé dans la région de Lorient n'a encore jamais fait l'objet d'études approfondies. Dans cet article, nous étudions le système des mutations consonantiques initiales dans ce dialecte, en comparaison avec le vannetais littéraire (basé sur le haut-vannetais).

Draskau, Jennifer Kewley, “Interlingual contact: some modals with variable morphology in Manx Gaelic”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 10 (2006): 85–120.

One effect of language contact on the system of Manx Gaelic has been the erosion of the spectrum commanded by fully functional languages. In Manx, 'Classical Manx', the highly formal and archaic written language of the Bible, occupies one end of this spectrum, the other being occupied by the fragmented, English-influenced speech of a handful of bilinguals recorded in the mid-twentieth century. Other parts of the spectrum were until recent times virtually invisible. Modern speakers look to the latter for phonological information, and to the former for syntactic, semantic and morphological information. Many factors have contributed to the muddying of the waters; however, twenty-first-century Manx is recapturing a degree of subtlety through the re-establishment of categories and functions. Gaps in the spectrum are now being filled.

Jones, Bob Morris, “Core and periphery rules: the syntax of Welsh piau clauses”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 10 (2006): 17–84.

The primary aim of this study is to explore the distinctive syntax of a clause in contemporary informal Welsh which contains the lexeme piau 'own, belong'. The study shows that piau clauses have idiosyncratic properties which are atypical of the core grammar of Welsh, and raises issues as to how syntactic models which are based on regular linguistic constructions can cope with irregular but commonly occurring constructions. Arising out of this, the study has a secondary aim, namely, to make these data available as a contribution to the debate, which is found in Culicover (1999) and Culicover and Jackendoff (1999), on the extent to which Chomsky's (1981) distinction between core and peripheral grammar can be applied.

Willis, David, “Lexical diffusion in Middle Welsh: the distribution of /j/ in the law texts”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 9 (2005): 105–133.

This article looks at variation in the distribution of /j/ in post-tonic syllables in Middle Welsh. It extends previous studies by looking at variation at the level of the individual lexical item, using data from a stylistically and lexically relatively homogeneous group of law manuscripts from both north and south Wales. Many items show no variation, appearing either with /j/ or without /j/ in all texts. Variable items show different patterns of distribution: for some items, /j/-full forms are restricted to northern texts, and even there compete with /j/-less forms; for other items, the /j/-full forms dominant in the northern texts are found alongside /j/-less forms even in the south. With frequent items, it seems clear that the overall patterns closely resemble those found with cases of lexical diffusion of linguistic innovations. In addition to documenting the patterns of variation, this article makes some proposals as to how they may have arisen. It is suggested that, in the items investigated closely here (plural suffixes and synchronically monomorphemic items), two processes play the major role: a sound change deleting /j/ in the onset of post-tonic syllables, which diffuses south-to-north; and analogical extension of /j/ into the -eu and -oed plural suffixes, restricted to northern varieties.

Shisha-Halevy, Ariel, “Epistolary grammar: syntactical highlights in Kate Roberts’s correspondence with Saunders Lewis”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 9 (2005): 83–103.

The Modern Welsh epistolary texteme is here introduced and briefly examined, on the basis of the correspondence of Kate Roberts and Saunders Lewis. Following some preliminary general comments on the texteme, six syntactical topics are discussed – the nynegocentric deixis and tensing; presentation; focalization, topicalization and related issues; the epistolary narrative; allocutive and reactive elements; parenthesis – with a view to demonstrating the special grammatical systems of this texteme which, despite its affinities with the dialogue, is idiosyncratic in perspective and juncture.

Bronner, Dagmar, “Codeswitching in medieval Ireland: the case of the Vita Tripartita sancti Patricii”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 9 (2005): 1–12.

The following article examines the occurrence of Latin within the medieval Irish Life of Saint Patrick, the Vita Tripartita Sancti Patricii, from syntactical, lexical and functional points of view. Some tendencies for codeswitching in the text can be discerned. In accordance with Müller (1999), 'marking off' in the broadest sense can be advanced as the main function for codeswitching, though this does not provide an overall explanation.

Isaac, Graham R., “A note on Cormac’s Pictish brooch”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 9 (2005): 73–82.
A tenth-century Irish glossary attributes a word for 'brooch' to the 'Pictish language'. The word also occurs in an eighth-century Irish law text, and the glossator's form has been compared with a hapax legomenon word in an Old Welsh poem. This note discusses the possible etymological relations between these words, and pursues the wider implications of the linguistic analysis so constructed.
Genee, Inge, “Latin influence on Old Irish? A case study in medieval language contact”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 9 (2005): 33–72.

This paper evaluates proposals for Latin influence on a number of developments in medieval Irish against recent theories of contact-induced change as presented by Thomason and Kaufman (1988) and Thomason (2001). Given the relevant sociolinguistic context, we would expect the medieval Latin/Irish contact situation to be a special type of non-oral borrowing scenario involving influence from a prestigious literary/sacral language on a developing standard vernacular. In such a scenario the expectations are for heavy lexical borrowing of non-basic vocabulary items combined with minor borrowing of non-invasive structural items such as certain types of function words, new phonemes restricted to loanwords and high-prestige morphosyntactic construction types which do not affect basic syntax of the borrowing language. All proposals found in the literature for lexical and structural borrowing of Latin elements in medieval Irish are shown to fit into this general classification. However, closer examination of the proposals for structural borrowing reveals that most are better explained as having internal causes, either exclusively or at least additionally. Only borrowing related to the lexicon can be firmly established, confirming the claim that the role of Latin in medieval Ireland remained linguistically limited.

Carnie, Andrew, “Flat structure, phrasal variability and VSO”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 9 (2005): 13–31.

Contra the prevailing Chomskyan view of Modern Irish VSO, where the order is derived via verb movement, this paper proposes that Lexical-Functional Grammar provides a more explanatory account using a flat, VP-less structure. Using evidence from complex copular predicates, this paper shows that the variability in category of the initial predicate is due to a categorial underspecification in the S phrase structure rule. Further, in order to account for the fact that both phrasal and head material can appear in this position, a new kind of variable is proposed that holds over bar level. Finally, the paper accounts for the outward appearance of VP-like constituents by appealing to the fact that the language uses verbal nouns, and it has an NP rule, but no VP rule.

Isaac, Graham R., “The chronology of the development of Brittonic stops and the spirant mutation”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 8 (2004): 49–85.

The 'standard' account of the development of the Neo-Brittonic fricatives which are written in Welsh as ff, ph, th, ch, is that of Jackson's Language and History in Early Britain, which traces these sounds historically to geminates *pp, *tt, *kk, in Brittonic and Celtic, and Latin pp, tt, cc in loans (with phonological adjustments, these comments apply equally to Cornish and Breton). However, this 'standard' account has been a minority view for some decades. It was challenged early by David Greene, who was followed at various intervals by Anthony Harvey, Peter Wynn Thomas and Patrick Sims-Williams. Although these scholars have presented analyses which differ to a greater or lesser extent from one another, they nevertheless have in common the rejection of the LHEB account, in particular, the tracing of the Welsh spirants directly to old geminates. They see instead various separate changes in relative chronology, including the simplification of the geminates to the corresponding simple stops. I have upheld an LHEB-type analysis in previous work, and in the present paper will show in greater detail, 1) why the revisionist view is false (false predictions of how the attested forms should turn out), and 2) elaborate on the actual mechanisms involved in the development of Neo-Brittonic consonants, emphasizing the nature of phonology as a cognitive system of knowledge, rather than a physical system of sounds and articulations.

Ronan, Patricia, “Old Irish co n-accae in fer and functional grammar”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 8 (2004): 133–147.

Among Celticists it is well known that suddenly encountered new characters in a story/sagatext in Old Irish can be introduced using the definite article, as in: Ba dorchae ind adaig. [...]. Co n-accae ara chind in fer, 7 leth a chind fair [...]. 'Dark was the night. He sees a man before him, and half his head on him.' (LU 4932). Thurneysen explains the usage as denoting a participant already known to the storyteller, but not to the listener/reader (c. f. GOI § 470). This is rather unsatisfactory as it is too general and this state of affairs could be said to hold for all the items of a story told. Cross-linguistically this use of the article is unusual as the article is normally only used for known entities. Thus in the grammatical framework of Functional Grammar, the definite article is defined as being used for nouns with continued reference in narrative; it therefore can be referred to as a 'topicality marker' (c. f. Givón 1995: 379ff.). In this paper the usage of the article in Old Irish with newly introduced nouns will be examined. We will first deal with how the Old Irish article is traditionally analysed. Secondly Functional Grammar approaches to definiteness will be examined in different languages. Finally we will evaluate how Old Irish can be seen in this context. It will be argued that in(d) serves as a cataphoric deictic element used as an attention marker.

MacKinnon, Kenneth, “Reversing language shift: Celtic languages today – any evidence?”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 8 (2004): 109–132.

Recently released census data on Irish in Northern Ireland, Manx, Welsh and Gaelic indicate very different progress in reversing language shift. Irish is fairly steadily maintained, Manx has shown vigorous revival, Gaelic is in scarcely retarded free-fall, and Welsh shows strong evidence of genuine recovery.

Original conceptual tools of intergenerational ratio and intergenerational gain/loss have been developed which enable RLS to be assessed. Welsh is highly positive both nationally and in every local education authority area. Gaelic has, however, some local strengths. Manx RLS can be linked to Manxmedium schooling, and the effects of Irish-medium schooling in Northern Ireland can also be seen.

These results indicate different language-function in these societies, its symbolization and re-symbolization. A dynamic picture of different social processes, and their outcomes, can inform language policy. A review of policies is required, especially for Gaelic.

Jones, Bob Morris, “The licensing powers of mood and negation in spoken Welsh: full and contracted forms of the present tense of bod ‘be’”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 8 (2004): 87–107.

This study analyses the use of forms of the present tense of bod 'be' in informal spoken Welsh. Extensive attention has been given to the variant forms of the third persons (mae, maen, ydy, ydyn, sydd, oes). There are other variant forms of all the persons of bod 'be' which are based on phonological contraction, giving the contrast of full and contracted forms (e.g. ydy versus dy). These variants have received much less attention. This study shows that phonology alone cannot account for the choice of a full or contracted form. Three major findings emerge. One is that their use is licensed by features of negation and mood. Another is that the full forms have a more restricted distribution than the contracted forms. The third finding is that there are differences in the use of full and contracted forms in northern and southern dialects.

Awbery, Gwenllian M., “Clause-initial particles in spoken Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 8 (2004): 1–14.
Comparatively little attention has been paid to syntactic variation in Welsh regional dialect. This paper examines the way clause-initial particles are used in the spoken Welsh of north Pembrokeshire, looking at how speakers' choice of form is influenced by a number of different factors.
Bondaruk, Anna, “The inventory of nuclear tones in Connemara Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 8 (2004): 15–47.

The paper is an attempt at establishing an exhaustive inventory of nuclear tones in the western variety of Irish, called Connemara Irish. For this purpose O'Connor and Arnold's (1973) model of analysis is adopted with minor modifications, such as the incorporation of vowel length into other existing criteria. The use of O'Connor and Arnold's model of description made it possible to arrive at the inventory of eleven tones some of which bear resemblance to the tones recorded in English, i.e.the high-rise, the low-rise, the high-fall, the low-fall and the mid-level; some other tones differ in pitch configurations from their English counterparts, i.e.the simple fall-rise, the simple rise-fall, the complex fall-rise and the complex rise-fall; and there are two tones which are characteristic exclusively of Connemara Irish, i.e.the flatfall and the flat-rise. The paper does not aim at a semantic analysis of particular tones and the only contextual effects that are taken into account are presence or absence of emotion. These effects combined with the tendency for Irish long vowels to be raised in pitch are responsible for the occurrence of the simple fall-rise and the simple rise-fall in this dialect.

Pilch, Herman, “L’accentuation comparée des langues celtiques”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 103–127.
Price, Adrian, “An analysis of the syntactic errors of adult learners of Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 149–158.
Hewitt, Steve, “The impersonal in Breton”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 1–39.
Carnie, Andrew, “A note on diphthongization before tense sonorants in Modern Irish: an articulatory explanation”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 129–148.
Isaac, Graham R., “Perfectivity, transitivity, ergativity: the grammar of case in Welsh non-finite clauses”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 39–61.
Cox, Richard A. V., “Clach an Truiseil”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 159–166.
Rodway, Simon, “Absolute forms in the poetry of the Gogynfeirdd: functionally obsolete archaisms or working system?”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 63–84.
Heinecke, Johannes, “Is there a category of dual in Breton or Welsh?”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 7 (2002): 85–101.
Eska, Joseph F., “Resyllabification and epenthesis in Hispano-Celtic”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 5 (June 1996, 1998): 71–89.
Bosch, Anna R. K., “Prominence at two levels: stress versus pitch prominence in North Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 5 (June 1996, 1998): 121–165.
Kind, Kevin, “The structure of epenthesis in Gaelic”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 5 (June 1996, 1998): 91–119.
Borsley, Robert D., and Maggie Tallerman, “Phrases and soft mutation in Welsh”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 5 (June 1996, 1998): 1–49.
Jones, Mari C., “Language shift in Brittany: the importance of local surveys for the study of linguistic obsolescence”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 5 (June 1996, 1998): 51–69.
Griffen, Toby D., “A single accent rule for cynghanedd”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 6 (1997): 125–135.
McQuillan, Peter, “Towards a theory of modality for the early Irish verb: subjunctive, imperative and future in Early Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 6 (1997): 1–62.
George, Ken, “Mid-length vowels in Cornish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 6 (1997): 103–124.
Shisha-Halevy, Ariel, “Modern literary Welsh narrative syntax: two features described”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 6 (1997): 63–102.
Morgan, Gareth, “mehyr – ‘blades’”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 6 (1997): 137–139.
Müller, Nicole, “‘With’- relations and suffixed pronouns in Early Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 4 (March 1995, 1996): 89–97.
Poppe, Erich, “Negation in Welsh and ‘Jespersen’s Cycle’”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 4 (March 1995, 1996): 99–107.
McQuillan, Peter, “Towards a theory of modality for the Irish verb: subjunctive and indicative in Early Irish”, Journal of Celtic Linguistics 4 (March 1995, 1996): 35–75.

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