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Centres and Peripheries in Celtic Linguistics


Edited By Maria Bloch-Trojnar and Mark Ó Fionnáin

This book examines various aspects of Celtic linguistics from a general and more specific point of view. Amongst the topics investigated is the system of Irish initial mutations from both a linguistic universal and contrastive perspective. Other contributions analyse and cast new light on deverbal adjectives and assertive and declarative speech acts in Irish, communication and language transmission, change and policy, Breton and Sorbian grammars, as well as other issues of sociolinguistics in Irish, Welsh and Breton.

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Peripheral, Yet in the Centre – A Note on the Use of -ach in Deverbal Adjective Formation in Irish (Maria Bloch-Trojnar)


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Maria Bloch-Trojnar

Peripheral, Yet in the Centre – A Note on the Use of -ach in Deverbal Adjective Formation in Irish*

Abstract: This chapter argues in favour of recognising a productive process of forming deverbal adjectives in Irish with the aid of the suffix -ach. Traditionally, the central role of this suffix is that of a denominal adjectiviser and its deverbal uses are considered peripheral. It is demonstrated that -ach can be regularly added to active participles to form potential active adjectives. The non-finite verb form which acts as the base is, in fact, a positional variant of the active participle, which traditional grammars refer to as the genitive case of the verbal noun.

Keywords: Deverbal adjectives, Active participle, Potential/active adjective, Word-formation, Irish

1 Introduction

Sections devoted to Irish word-formation in traditional grammars (Ó hAnluain 1999) and comprehensive descriptions of individual dialects (e.g. de Bhaldraithe 1953; Ó Curnáin 2007) present -ach as a denominal adjectivising suffix. Denominal formations hold pride of place among morphologically complex words in -(e)ach and -íoch listed in Doyle and Gussmann (1996: 143–167). However, Ó Sé (2000: 481) notes in passing that this suffix can also be a marker of adjectives based on verbal adjectives, which is a traditional term for past/perfective participles. Ó Curnáin (2016: 2801) also observes that “-ach is attached to verbal stems (similar to verbal adjective and to genitive of verbal noun)”, i.e. he envisages the possibility of...

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