The Typology of the Celtic Languages

The Typology of the Celtic Languages
Patricia Ronan, University of Uppsala
The Typology of the Celtic Languages
1. The Celtic Languages
Restriction of the present paper to the living modern Celtic languages.
Outline of their geographic location, and of the languages not treated in this discussion.
2. Phonology
2.1 Stress
Brief description of the main stress patterns found in Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Breton.
2.2 Vowels
Brief description of the inventory of vowels and their quality in Irish, Scots Gaelic,
Welsh, Breton.
2.3 Consonants
Brief description of the inventory of consonants, with emphasis on differences of palatalversus non-palatal in Irish and Scots Gaelic.
2.4 Initial Mutations
Detailed description of the phenomenon of initial mutations in Celtic and brief survey of
the realisation of mutations in Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Breton.
3 Morphology
3.1 Noun Phrases
3.1.1 Nouns
Brief description of number, gender, case, and declension classes.
3.1.2 Adjectives
Discussion of concord with nouns and of adjectival position in attributive and predicative
3.1.3 Articles
Use of the definite article and demonstrative particles.
3.1.4 Pronouns
Description and use of subject, object and possessive pronouns, and emphatic pronouns
added for stress.
3.2 Prepositions
Description of primary prepositions and their personal inflection, as well as secondary
prepositions and their genitival person marking.
3.3 Verbs
3.3.1 Categories
Survey of tenses and moods of synthetic categories, and active versus impersonal
3.3.2 Finite verbal forms
Distinction between actual and habitual present, further synthetic categories: imperfect,
preterite, future or present future, conditional, and subjunctive.
3.3.3 Non-finite verbal forms
The verbal noun, past participle and the impersonal form used in stead of passives.
3.3.4 Periphrastic tense forms
Survey of the verbo-nominal progressive perfects and obligational futures, as well as
support verb constructions denoting preterites in Welsh and Scots Gaelic.
Description of the result-state past participle in Irish.
4 Syntax
4.1 Constituent Order
VSO order in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Welsh, except for question particles, and the strong
presence of cleft clauses. Potential SVO order in Breton.
4.2 Phrase Order
Position of relative clauses and the internal order of noun phrases.
4.3 Negation
Initial, i.e. pre-verbal negation in finite clauses, prepositional negations in non-finite
verbal noun clauses.
4.4 Subordinate clauses
Survey of finite and non-finite subordinate clause types.
Description of finite ‘direct’ relative clauses for subject and object antecedent and
‘indirect’ relative clauses for prepositional and genitival relationships.
5 Lexicon
Special lexical characteristics of Celtic languages.
5.1 Lack of answer words yes and no,
5.2 Absence of the verb have
5.3 Distinction between existential verb be in copula contexts, and substantive verb be for
spatio-temporal predication
5.4 Vigesimal counting systems.
6 Deviations from Standard Average European
7 References