A Grammar of Old Irish

By Rudolf Thurneysen; D. A. Binchy et al. | Go to book overview

INFLEXION AND
STEM FORMATION OF NOUNS AND
ADJECTIVES

Collections other than in the Grammatica Celtica: Stokes, Celtic Declension ( Trans. Phil. Society 1885-7, p. 97 ff. = Bezzenbergers Beitr. XI. 64 ff., where the personal pronoun is omitted); cp. also Strachan, Contributions to the History of Middle Irish Declension ( Trans. Phil. Society 1903-6, p. 202 ff.).


GENERAL REMARKS ON DECLENSION

245. GENDER

The three Indo-European grammatical genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter are still distinguished in our period.

The condition of the language in the Glosses would scarcely suggest that the neuter was destined to be largely superseded by the masculine and feminine in the ninth century and to disappear almost completely in the tenth. For conditions in the Vita Tripartita (c. 900), see K. Mulchrone, ZCP. XVI35 ff. But even in O.Ir. itself some preliminary indications of this change are found. Thus there is no distinction of gender in the 3 pl. personal pronoun (§ 405 f.), in most classes of adjectives (§ 354 ff.), and in the acc. pl. of the article; feminine and neuter are identical in the nom. pl. of the article, and there is a tendency to discontinue the separate masculine form of the nom. pl. of the article and of adjectival o-stems (§ 351). A powerful factor in the loss of the neuter was the disappearance of the typical difference in the vocalism of the nom. acc. sg. of the article, neut. an as opposed to masc. fem. in, during the ninth century, when an obscure neutral vowel came to be used in all proclitic words. As early as the Vita Tripartita inní is frequently written for anní 'that (which)'. Even the Glosses afford occasional examples of change of gender: in fotha 'the foundation' (originally neut.) Sg. 4b3; in Ml. verbal nouns of the type described § 724, which are generally neuter, are sometimes treated as masculine.

The earlier gender of words of infrequent occurrence is therefore often difficult or impossible to determine. For a list of nouns which were either certainly or possibly old neuters, see Hogan, RIA., Todd Lecture Series IV. 108 ff., VI. 89 ff.

246. NUMBER

In nominal inflexion Old Irish has preserved the three numbers of Indo-European, singular (sg.), plural (pl.), and dual

-154-

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A Grammar of Old Irish
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Translators' Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Introduction 1
  • Orthography 18
  • Phonology 27
  • Inflexion and Stem Formation of Nouns and Adjectives 154
  • Numerals 242
  • Pronouns and Pronominals 251
  • The Verb 326
  • Prepositions. 495
  • Negatives 538
  • Conjunctions and Conjunctional Clauses 546
  • Appendix Form and Flexion of Loan-Words in Old Irish 565
  • Indexes 577
  • Translators' Notes 673
  • Index of Words 687
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