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LINGUIST List 22.3771

Tue Sep 27 2011

Diss: Insular Celtic/Linguistic Theories: Frenda: 'Gender in ...'

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        1.     Alessio Frenda , Gender in Insular Celtic: A functionalist account of variation and change in Irish and Welsh

Message 1: Gender in Insular Celtic: A functionalist account of variation and change in Irish and Welsh
Date: 20-Sep-2011
From: Alessio Frenda <alessio.frendagmail.com>
Subject: Gender in Insular Celtic: A functionalist account of variation and change in Irish and Welsh
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Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Program: Centre for Language and Communication Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Alessio Salvatore Frenda

Dissertation Title: Gender in Insular Celtic: A functionalist account of
variation and change in Irish and Welsh

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Morphology
Syntax
Text/Corpus Linguistics
Typology

Language Family(ies): Insular Celtic


Dissertation Director(s):
Brian Nolan
John Ibrahim Saeed

Dissertation Abstract:

In this study I look at grammatical gender in Insular Celtic to investigate
a case of variation and change in a situation of language contact and
obsolescence. The analysis is conducted on a corpus of spoken Irish and
Welsh, which are taken as the two main representatives of this language
group. A quantitative analysis of agreement variation is provided in order
to achieve a better understanding of the system, which is described in
detail; a model based on the theoretical framework of Functional Discourse
Grammar (FDG) is proposed.

Presenting the findings of the quantitative analysis of the data, I show
that whereas conservative varieties exhibit a fairly consistent agreement
system across the board, contemporary varieties do not.

I then discuss the problems raised by these findings, from both a
typological and a theoretical perspective, and argue that an FDG-based
model can account for the patterns found in the data while remaining
consistent with typological considerations.

Then, looking at anaphoric agreement in particular, I observe that the
current FDG theory should be expanded in order to provide a better account
of how the different types of information capable of influencing pronominal
agreement forms are stored and represented, and propose a way to do so.

Finally, I argue that the observed variation in gender agreement should be
interpreted as the result of a process of resemantization triggered by the
demise of gender agreement marking within the noun phrase, and that both
language-internal factors and contact-induced processes (markedness and
convergence, respectively) contribute to the shaping of the new agreement
system, particularly as regards the overgeneralization of masculine
agreement forms.

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