Resumptivity resumed

I said (four years ago) that Gaelic doesn’t have resumptive pronouns. However, while scouring William Lamb’s Scottish Gaelic for unusual uses of agus, I found these examples, with the resumptive bit in bold.

  • sin an gille a shuidh Cèit air (that is the boy who Kate sat upon) (do not try this at home)
  • sin an gille a tha a mhàthair bochd (that is the boy whose mother is ill)

Now, in dictionaries air in the first example is indeed treated as a pronoun, though for subcategorization purposes I prefer to treat it as a PP. The second case, a as possessive pronoun, I’ve been treating as a pronoun, so on my own account what I said about Gaelic was wrong. It may of course be a determiner. The evidence for this off the top of my head is that unlike the small class of prenominal adjectives deagh, droch, sàr and so on, the possessives mo, do, a and so on can’t co-occur with the article an or with gach, and that unlike nouns in the genitive they go before the possessor rather than after the possessor. Pronoun or determiner, they have type N/N in categorial grammar.

Apparently there are resumptive pronouns in Irish, but I don’t have enough Irish to make sense of the literature I’ve seen on the subject, so I shall stop here.

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2 Responses to Resumptivity resumed

  1. Yes, Irish certainly does have resumptive pronouns. They are obligatory in so-called ‘indirect’ relative clauses. Here are some an indirect relative clause:

    Sin an buachaill ar shuigh Cáit air.
    (That is the boy who Kate sat upon.)

    Sin an buachaill a bhfuil a mháthair tinn.
    (That is the boy whose mother is ill.)

    For comparison, here are some ‘direct’ relative clauses which do not have (and cannot have) a resumptive pronoun:

    Sin an buachaill a shuigh ar Cháit.
    (That is the boy who sat upon Kate.)

    Sin an buachaill atá tinn.
    (That is the boy who is ill.)

  2. Colin Batchelor says:

    GRMA, a Mhical!

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