LINGUIST List 11.2753

Tue Dec 19 2000

Qs: Morph Case/Syllabi, Celtic Langs/Adjectives

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  1. Stephen M. Wechsler, case syllabi
  2. Denis Bouchard, Adjectives in Celtic languages

Message 1: case syllabi

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 13:50:14 -0500
From: Stephen M. Wechsler <>
Subject: case syllabi

I would be interested in receiving any syllabi or reading lists for 
seminars on the topic of morphological case, especially syntactic 
issues. This is a big topic-- one that I have taught before and will 
teach again-- and I am curious to see the range of approaches. If I 
receive enough responses, I will put them all on the web, and post 
the URL on the Linguist List. (Send them directly to me, not to the 
list.) Thanks in advance.

Steve Wechsler


Stephen Wechsler, Assoc.Prof. |
Linguistics Dept. | Calhoun Hall 403
University of Texas | direct ph. (512) 232-7683
Austin, TX 78712-1196 |
dept. ph. (512) 471-1701 | Fall 2000 Office hrs:
dept. fax (512) 471-4340 | Tu 11-12, Wed 2-4
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Message 2: Adjectives in Celtic languages

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2000 15:51:13 -0500
From: Denis Bouchard <>
Subject: Adjectives in Celtic languages

Would some native speaker of a Celtic be so kind as to help me with
some data? I have been working on adjectives for some time and a few
colleagues have pointed out some facts about postnominal adjectives in
Celtic languages that I would like to understand a bit better. It
concerns cases with two or more postnominal adjectives. I am told that
the order is the same as that of prenominal adjectives in English, in
contrast with French, where postnominal adjectives have a mirror order
of English prenominal adjectives. I have checked in descriptive
grammars of Welsh, Breton and Irish, and the few examples they give
corroborate this.

English order: a black horned cow
Celtic order: cow black horned
French order: une vache cornue noire

What seems to go on in English and French is that the adjective
closest to the N combines with the N first, and then the furthest
adjective modifies this constituent. In Celtic, a simple analysis is
to say that the basic structure is like English, but the N raised in
front of the adjectives. But there is a second important factor:
mutation. The initial consonant of the two adjectives in Celtic
undergo lenition. Now, I found one example with two postnominal
adjectives in Breton in which lenition does not occur in the second
adjective. The intriguing fact is that the order of the adjectives is
then as in French rather than as in English. Since I have found only a
very few examples of two postnominal adjectives, and that they are
usually brought up to illustrate the phenomenon of mutation, I do not
have enough data to make out what is going on at the factual level. So
here are a few questions I would be very grateful if anyone could
answer. What I�m trying to see is if there is always a correlation
between order and mutation. I know that mutation is triggered only
with certain classes of Ns (feminine singular in Welsh, for example).

-When a N does trigger mutation, must all postnominal adjectives
obligatorily undergo mutation?

-If mutation occurs on all postnominal adjectives, is the order obligatorily
the English order (as it would be for English prenominal adjectives)?

-If mutation can occur on only the first adjective (or maybe even none), is
the order of postnominal adjectives still as in English, or is it a mirror
of that order as in French?

-When a N belongs to a class that does not trigger mutation, is the order of
two postnominal adjectives as in French or English?

Finally, I know that some adjectives may appear in prenominal position in
Celtic. What is the interpretation if there is also a postnominal adjective?
For example, in French, a noun phrase like �une nouvelle proposition
int�ressante� has two possible interpretations, with either adjective taking
�scope� over the other: it can mean either �a new interesting proposition�
or �an interesting new proposition�. What is the interpretation of a Celtic
NP of the form ADJ-N-ADJ? Is it ambiguous as in French?

Thank you very much for your help. If you can think of anything additional I
should know about this construction (data, references), please let me know.

Please reply to me directly at:

Denis Bouchard
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