Gender in Irish between continuity and change
FRENDA, ALESSIO SALVATORE
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Citation:Alessio S. Frenda, Gender in Irish between continuity and change, Folia Linguistica, 45, 2, 2011, 283 - 316
The gender system of Irish appears to have undergone a process of simplification: traditionally depending on both formal and semantic assignment rules, agreement in contemporary spoken Irish is still rather conservative within the noun phrase, but almost exclusively semantic anaphorically. Language contact and the resulting obsolescence seem to have had some influence on these developments: for instance, structures that have a functional counterpart in English seem more resilient than others. But language-internal developments, particularly the phonetic erosion and loss of word-final syllables, may have played an important role, too: similar developments have been observed in non-obsolescent languages like Dutch and French. In this article, I illustrate some specific aspects of the Irish situation with examples drawn from a corpus of spoken Irish and frame the simplification process in terms of structural convergence in the context of language contact.
Series/Report no:Folia Linguistica;