LWM 401: Scottish Gaelic

Artikel-Nr.: ISBN 9783895867279
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Scottish Gaelic

William Lamb
University of Edinburgh and Colaisde Bheinn na Faoghla

Scottish Gaelic (ScG), along with Irish and Manx, is a member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic family of Indo-European languages. At its peak of influence around 1000AD, it was undoubtedly the national language of Scotland, but ever since, its fate has been one of gradual decline. Today, the Gaidhealtachd or Gaelic-speaking region is confined to the islands off the west coast of the country, aside from small pockets dotted throughout the northern and western Highlands. Although now spoken by only slightly more than 1% (65,978) of the country's population, it has had a rich influence on Scotland's history, toponymy, art, literature and national folklore.

Scottish Gaelic has received much prior linguistic attention for its complex phonology (one dialect distinguishing at least 5 different lateral approximates), its system of consonant mutations, and its rich dialectal variation. However, relatively little has been published on its syntax. It is a dependent-marking, nominative-accusative VSO language . The verbal system tends to be agglutinating while the nominal system is somewhat fusional. Pronominal forms are especially notable in this regard, with a large proliferation of 'prepositional-pronouns' evincing different forms according to person, number, and gender. There are two genders (M&F), three numbers (Sing., Pl., and dual) and four cases extant in the language. Stem modification and suppletion are common morphological processes. Distinctions of mood, aspect, and voice tend to be made periphrastically, employing a combination of verbal particles, auxiliaries and 'verbal-nouns' that can function differently depending upon their syntactic status.

Finally, the grammar ends with sections on discourse phenomena, interjections and exclamations, the influence of English, and a full oral folktale with interlinear translation.

This new grammar is the most up-to-date one available on the language. It includes many topics that have never, or only rarely, been dealt with in the available literature, for example information structure, complex clause formation, and descriptions of various types of discourse-related constructions. It has been informed by an ongoing corpus-based study of register variation in the language, highlighting some of the initial differences that have been found in this data set. It is fully-referenced throughout for further information on Gaelic grammar and sociolinguistics. Useful for the language learner, it also includes a glossary of the Gaelic words in the text and a statistically-derived list of the 100 most frequent words in the language with definitions.

ISBN 9783895867279. Languages of the World/Materials 401. 118pp. 2003.

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