Modern Welsh

Shisha-Halevy, A., 2016. Work-Notes on Modern Welsh Narrative Syntax (II): Presentatives in Narrative. Journal of Celtic Linguistics , 17 , pp. 97–146.Abstract

The paper assigns, in a ‘pointillistic’ structural profile, narrative functions to dyma and dyna, formal presentatives, in syntactic detail and macrosyntactic patterning, on the database of Kate Roberts’s short stories and novellas.1 The extensive distribution and rich functional range of these elements matches their formal complexity and narratological significance. This presentative pair, expanded by verbal, substantival or pronominal presentates, form six narrative tenses, distinct formally and functionally, in complex interplay with their environment.

In fact, however, dyma and dyna comprise doubly two homonyms: dyma/dyna presentatives, and dyma/dyna referential pronouns, typically rhematic or focal.

Following a descriptive breakdown of the syntactic properties of the presentatives, the Presentative Narrative Tenses (PNTs) I to VI are discussed.

Functionally striking and statistically prevalent is (PNT I) # dyma + noun phrase/personal pronoun + yn-converb2#, where we encounter two homonymous sub-tenses: the first with specific scenic or theatrical (‘dramatic’, narratologically scene-setting) semantics; the second non-scenic, but tagmemically functional. It is noteworthy that the entire presentative clause is high-level, narratologically rhematic or focal to the preceding text: it contains the key event. The presentative signals immediacy between narrator, reader and narrated character.

Two presentative narrative tenses are non-verbal: adverbial presentates (dramatic presentation of motion) and scenic presentation of nouns.

Another major issue treated here concerns the anaphoric pronouns dyna and dyma, rhematic in Nominal Sentence and Cleft Sentence patterns.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 2015. Work-Notes on Modern Welsh Narrative Syntax (I) fe- and mi- Revisited: From Macro-Syntax to Narratology. Journal of Celtic Linguistics , 16 , pp. 81–111.Abstract

Following an early brief attempt at a formal-and-functional resolution of the pre-verbal elements fe- and mi- in narrative (Shisha-Halevy 1995: Excurse II), these two discourse-function converters are examined again, as part of a comprehensive narrative-grammatical study of Kate Roberts’s fiction.

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.Abstract

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. […]

Shisha-Halevy, A., 2005. Epistolary Grammar: Syntactical Highlights in Kate Roberts’s Letters to Saunders Lewis. Journal of Celtic Linguistics , 9 , pp. 83–103.Abstract

The Modern Welsh epistolary texteme is here introduced and briefly examined, on the basis of the correspondence of Kate Roberts and Saunders Lewis. Following some preliminary general comments on the texteme, six syntactical topics are discussed – the nynegocentric deixis and tensing; presentation; focalization, topicalization and related issues; the epistolary narrative; allocutive and reactive elements; parenthesis – with a view to demonstrating the special grammatical systems of this texteme which, despite its affinities with the dialogue, is idiosyncratic in perspective and juncture.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 2003. Celtic Syntax, Egyptian-Coptic Syntax. In Das Alte Ägypten und seine Nachbarn: Festschrift Helmut Satzinger. Krems. Krems: Österreichisches Literaturforum, pp. 245–302.Abstract

H. J. Polotsky’s “Syntaxe amharique et syntaxe turque” (1960a), the Master’s only article in a properly speaking General Linguistics (typological-comparative) genre, the paper opening Polotsky’s Collected Papers (Jerusalem: the Magnes Press, 1971), has drawn little attention outside the small circle of the Jerusalem School and its adherents, perhaps because of an hermetic quality of style, as well as the exclusive Ethiopistic forum of publication. And yet, it is a wonderful fruit of Polotsky’s annus mirabilis, an insightful and sensitive exposé of an instance of the non-geographical, cross-genealogical Sprachbund and what may be called the historical-connection-indifferent typological rapprochement As is generally realized today, the Sprachbund phenomenon is varied and complex, reflecting the variety of languages-in-contact scenarios and their historical configuration. The relatively rare non-adjacent or non-geographical Sprachbund is less well understood and falls between the stools of typological and genetic comparison, and goes, to mix metaphors, against the grain of conventional comparativist temperament.

The “Eurafrican” (so Wagner in Transactions of the Philological Society 1969) hypothesis, first outlined in modern times at least as early as 1990 by John Morris-Jones, has been for most of the last century associated almost exclusively with the names of Julius Pokorny and his disciple, Heinrich Wagner. I believe it now deserves detailed objective re-appreciation, in view of the considerable expansion in our knowledge of Celtic and the advance in the unveiling of the languages commonly known as Afro-Asiatic or Hamito-Semitic, and especially of Egyptian and Coptic. Although it is generally not clear which languages are invoked on the Afro-Asiatic side — “Semitic” (which languages?) “Egyptian” (which phase or phases in its near four millennia of evolution?), Arabic, North-West Semitic, Accadian, Berber — a vagueness contributive to the scepticism with which the theory is still regarded (not that there is a generally accepted idea about hierarchies and chronologies inside the Celtic branch of Indo-European); nor is there any real confidence about either the chronological parameters, or the hierarchical structuring of syntactical and non-syntactical comparata of the comparison.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 2003. Juncture Features in Literary Modern Welsh: Cohesion and Delimitation — Problematik, Typology of Exponents and Features. Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie , 53 , pp. 230–258.Abstract

In the following pages, I wish to present some preliminary reflections and some relevant documentation, upon attempting to understand the grammatical phenomenology of cohesion or linkage. This, I believe, is of the most fascinating, perhaps the most fascinating topic of syntax, for here is something close to the very quintessence of textuality — hence, of grammaticality itself, bearing in mind Louis Hjelmslev’s opening words in his Prolegomena: “The object of interest for linguistic science are texts” (not “languages” or “a language” — which is only a seeming paradox). My corpus for the following observations is triple: some of Kate Roberts’s short stories, and two novels (I am engaged in work on a comprehensive syntax of the corpus of K.R.’s fiction, on the basis of her editions and MSS, for which a pilot work, incorporating three monographic studies, appeared in 1998. The present paper may be seen as a cluster of preliminary work-notes to a chapter on juncture and textuality within this projected work. A second source is John Emyr’s collection of short stories, Mynydd Gwaith a storiau eraill (Denbych, 1984). A third source are some numbers of the defunct weekly magazine Y Faner.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1997. Modern Literary Welsh Narrative Grammar: Two Features Described. Journal of Celtic Linguistics , 6 , pp. 63–102.Abstract

Two narrative feature sets of Modern Literary Welsh are studied, on the basis of a mixed corpus (works by Kate Roberts, J.G. Williams, Islwyn Ffowc Elis, Y Faner): First, the infinitive (Alias verb-noun) co-ordinated to a finite verb form, as constituent of a compound “micro-episodal” narrative tense; the infinitive as an “entry-making” form, in a special system of diary syntax, which is here scanned in some detail; the reminiscent “condensing” infinitive; the infinitive presented in narrative by dyma, for narrative changes and episode-opening in dramatic highlight. The highlighting delimitative converters mi- and fe- are discussed in the context of manipulative “dramatic” narrative staging. Second, the aorist (alias [future-] present) as a main narrative-evolution carrier tense-form in complex autobiographical narrative systems.

Shisha-Halevy, A., 1995. Review of G. King, Modern Welsh: a Comprehensive Grammar. Studia Celtica , 29 , pp. 321–325.Abstract

We must certainly give Gareth King the credit of putting the more informal varieties of the language on the map of linguistic description. However, when a work titled ‘Comprehensive Grammar’ professes on its first page the conviction that ‘… for the serious student of any language, grammar is a key to understanding and not an obstacle’ (vii), it is not over-rash to suspect the author has (or has had) some deep-lying misgivings about ‘grammar’. The book before us, I fear, amply confirms this inference.