Converbs in Welsh and Irish: A Note


Shisha-Halevy, A., 2010. Converbs in Welsh and Irish: A Note. In Kelten am Rhein: Akten des dreizehnten Internationalen Keltologiekongressesvon LVR Landesmuseum Bonn (Autor), Verein von Altertumsfreunden im Rheinlande Mainz. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, pp. 270–277.


The converb, in its least specific and sharp resolution, is used to mean ‘adverbial verb form’, or ‘verbal adverb’ (see the subtitle of Haspelmath and König 1995). Mostly and for long it has been known, in the description of various languages, as ‘gerund’. Definition of the converb reveal an underlying blurredness: Haspelmath (1995: 3ff.): ‘Non-finite verb-form whose main function is to mark adverbial subordination’; Nedjalkov’s (1995) is more sophisticated: ‘a verb-form which depends syntactically on another verb-form but is not its syntactic actant, that is does not realize its semantic valences’. (This is surely unsatisfactory, for the converb is arguably actantial in cases like ‘start walking’). Probably the worst is the definition in Himmelmann and Schultze-Berndt (2005: 60): ‘we use the term converb for ‘participles’ which are used primarily as adjuncts’. As Grønbech (1979: 35) says of Turkic postpositions and gerundial forms, the converbs are ‘fluid and hard to hold on to’, which for a ‘cross-linguistic valid category’ (Haspelmath and König 1995, in which see Haspelmaths’s and König’s own contributions), is not an ideal condition. […]

Last updated on 01/18/2018