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Re: neuter

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Mon, 23 Feb 2009 23:59:49 +0900

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 Seán MacKenna wrote: > I am a subscriber to Gaeilge-B list for beginners in modern Irish so please > forgive my presumption in posting on this list. Nice to hear from you, Sean. > However, there has been some discussion on the list of the behavior of nouns > that once were neuter. > i seem to remember once being told that 'Talamh' was such a noun, and that > explained why it had two genitive singular forms, masc. talaimh and fem. talún. According to the Royal Irish Academy's dictionary, Old Irish 'talam' was a masculine n-stem (not neuter). The dictionary does report that the word had varying gender [masc. and fem.] and inflection in 'Early Modern Irish'. Fluctuation between masc. and fem. does often occur with words that are origianlly neuter, but the fluctuation generally surfaces in the Middle Irish period, rather than as late as seems to be the case with 'talam'. The 'Lexique Étymologique de L'Irlandais Ancien' also has it as masc. only. There is a recent article that examines the etymology of the word, but I haven't got access to it, and I don't know if it has anything new to say about the gender. Here is the entry from the Bibliography of Irish Linguistics and Literature: "4770. Remmer (Ulla): Das indogermanische Suffix -mon- im Altirischen (1. Teil)       In Sprache 43 (2002) pp. 171-211. Collects and analyses instances of agent nouns in -em: Prototypen bzw. frühere Bildungen (ainim(m)/anaim(m), talam); Bekannte und gesicherte -amon und -\textit{(i)\textsubarch{i}amon}-Bildungen (airem, betham, brithem, cairem, dáilem, dúilem, féchem, fethem, flaithem, glaídem, legam, luam, medam, mraithem, orb(b)am, súainem). Continued in Die Sprache 44 (2004), 26-69." Neil