you were thinking about examples like
cuir ceist ‘ask’, cuir fâilte ‘welcome’ or cuir tûs ‘begin’, right?
Using 'cur' and other verbs like it is indeed a fairly common phenomenon in languages world-wide. For Modern Irish, Maria Bloch-Trojnar has done most work on the phenomenon - she calls it 'light verb constructions' because the verbs are semantically 'light'. 'Support verbs' also is a common term. ´O Siadhail also has a section on them in his 1989 'Modern Irish'.
And indeed they were also around in Old Irish, 'fo-ceird' is still rare in that use in Old Irish, it can be found mainly with predicate nouns of movement, like 'bedg', jump, or with its own verbal noun, 'fo-ceird cor'. The most frequent 'light-verbs' in Old Irish seem to be 'do-gnî', which has the most varied predicate nouns, and 'do-beir', which has highest total counts in early texts - in the Glosses it is found especially with 'dîgal', inflict punishment.
The light verbs are used on the one hand to create new verbal expressions - if the predicate noun does not have a verb attached to it - and on the other hand to make verbal expressions more specific semantically. 'Do-gnî' or 'dêan-' often indicate that the action is complete, as in
'rofunigestar .i. dorigni a funech' he has washed it, i.e. he wrought its washing (Thesaurus II 322.22), for example.
There are a couple of other functions, too, such as making it possible to shift verbal nouns around in the sentence for stress. Useful, as verbs in Irish are somewhat difficult to stress, such as in Old Irish
'cia adcobrinn môidim do dênum...' though I should have desired to boast (Würzburg 17d17). And in Modern Irish there seems to be a lot of XXX a rinne mê for that purpose as well.
If after this people are still interested, I can provide a couple of references or copies.
> Thanks Richard for that extraordinary piece of verbosity! As noone has
> risen to their feet for August, may I ask a question? What is it about
> Irish (and to an extent English too in comparison to other languages)
> that it has so many descriptors (adjectives, adverbs)? and what does it
> say about the Irish psyche that they delight in using them?
> And, I'm not sure if this is a related question or not, but why does
> modern Irish (and English again) delight in reducing verbs down to a
> handful of common verbs in idiomatic or phrasal form? I'm beginning to
> think that if Irish could get away with expressing every verb using 'cur'
> within some expression, then that's what it would do! This tendency in
> both Irish and English certainly makes them a lot harder for adult
> learners to come to grips with. I remember one day (when I was much
> younger) we were counting the different verbal meanings of 'come'
> expressions and we stopped in exhaustion when we were over 600.
> But, I suspect Irish 'cur' could outdo that any day :--)
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