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Subject: Re: Araile anchore, part 5
From: Aaron Griffith <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 27 Mar 2012 17:01:14 +0100
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>I wonder if that infix came out of the writer's mouth/pen as a neuter  
>singular pronoun because he was using it proleptically?  That is, the  
>noun, with its gender and number, had not yet fully come into play, so  
>the pronoun he used was in some sense "undecided" as he jotted down  
>his comment.  How about the other examples of lapses that you mentioned?

Ina Lucht discusses these proleptic examples (most of which do have the
proper gender agreement; I gave all the ones I could find from the Glosses
with disagreement) in an article in ZCP, from 1994, I think. Joe Eska
discusses the examples as well, in the most recent ZCP (or the one before
that), where he argues that Old Irish was a language with subject AND object
agreement, or at least it was moving that way.

Most of the time with these proleptic pronouns, the noun is definite, so one
interpretation is that the scribe had the object in mind and used the
infixed pronoun, but then added the noun, just in case it wasn't clear what
he meant. In languages with grammatical gender, like German, you can use
often the neuter for inanimates (as far as I with my non-native-speaker
intuition can tell), so this may be a further part of what is going on in
the Irish. Or it could be that there was some indecision, as you suggest.

All the best,
Aaron

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