Brian Nolan [+]
Technological University Dublin (retired)
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. This study has described many dimensions of the syntax of Modern Irish from within a functional perspective, that of Role and Reference Grammar. One of the important reasons for the choice of RRG as our linguistic model was because of the strong claims that this theoretical framework makes as a universally valid theory of grammar.