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Structural Ambiguity and Resumptive Pronouns: The Pragmatics of the Transitive 'Direct' and 'Indirect' Relatives in Modern Irish

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On the basis of a corpus of transitive relative clauses from authentic texts this paper seeks to shed light on the 'direct' and 'indirect' transitive relative clauses in Modern Irish. 'Direct' transitive relative clauses in Irish are sometimes structurally ambiguous, that is, it is sometimes unclear whether the antecedent is the subject or the direct object of the relative clause. The present paper seeks to identify how such ambiguous clauses are correctly interpreted. It is frequently claimed that the 'indirect' relative is used to disambiguate potentially ambiguous object-relative constructions. This paper argues, however, that the use of the indirect relative is better explained by accessibility theory. The claim is that the 'indirect' relative is used when the antecedent is less accessible at the point at which it is reactivated in the relative clause.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Celtic Linguistics publishes articles and reviews on all aspects of the linguistics of the Celtic languages, modern, medieval and ancient, with particular emphasis on synchronic studies, while not excluding diachronic and comparative-historical work. This journal is of great interest to students of languages and Celtic studies, as well as members of the general public interested in the linguistic progression within Celtic languages and linguistic history. The editor is Lecturer in the Welsh Department at Aberystwyth University, and is supported by an editorial board including representatives from Oxford and Cambridge universities, and from universities across Europe and North America. Papers are invited in English, French or German on all fields/‘levels’ of analysis; phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics; formal or functional, cross-language typological or language-internal, dialectological or sociolinguistic, any theoretical paradigm.

    Mae’r Journal of Celtic Linguistics yn cynnwys erthyglau ac adolygiadau ar bob agwedd ar ieithoedd Celtaidd - modern, canoloesol a hynafol - gyda phwyslais arbennig ar astudiaethau syncronig, a heb eithrio gwaith diacronig a hanesyddol-gymharol. Y mae’r cyfnodolyn hwn yn ddefnyddiol i fyfyrwyr sydd yn astudio ieithoedd ac astudiaethau Celtaidd, yn ogystal â darllenwyr sy’n ymddiddori yn hanes datblygiadau’r ieithoedd Celtaidd. Mae’r golygydd yn Ddarlithydd yn Adran y Gymraeg, Prifysgol Aberystwyth, ac yn cydweithio â’r bwrdd golygyddol sydd â chynrychiolaeth o brifysgolion Rhydychen, Caergrawnt, ac o brifysgolion ledled Ewrop a Gogledd America.

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