Language structure: variation and change

Events & activities

Talk Marco Budassi, Old Irish information structure

Dear language structure list-members,

A guest I am hosting is giving a talk next Wednesday (20 June) on Old Irish information structure. The abstract and further information are below.

All the best,

Aaron Griffith


Extra-clausal constituents in Old Irish:

between theories of syntax and information structure


Marco Budassi

University of Pavia


Wednesday June 20, 11:00-12:00

A.W. de Grootkamer (Trans 8 0.19)


Extra-clausal constituents (ECCs) have been studied from a considerable number of perspectives as well as within different models. Even though a clear-cut definition of them is not straightforward, ECCs certainly share a number of formal properties: they hold a weak connection with the clause they belong to, they are not essential to the internal structure of the clause, they are not affected by grammatical rules operating within the limits of the clause (Kaltenböck et al. 2016). What is more, regardless of the theoretical standpoint from which they are considered, ECCs seem to be strictly bound to the pragmatics and (more specifically) to the information structure of sentences (see e.g. Dik 1997, Michaelis and Lambrecht 1996, but also Breul 2004).

ECCs are found very frequently in Old Irish. By and large, they can be split into two groups: post-clausal (i.e. right-dislocated) constituents, and pre-clausal (i.e. left-dislocated or fronted) constituents. These two broad groups behave in various ways in terms of both morpho-syntax and information structure. The aim of this talk is a deep consideration of all the relevant structures occurring in Old Irish as far as ECCs are concerned, endeavouring to understand what Old Irish tells us concerning this unique case of tight pairing between morpho-syntax and pragmatics.


Main references:

Breul C. 2004. Focus Structure in Generative Grammar. Amsterdam, J. Benjamins.

Dik S.C. 1997. The Theory of Functional Grammar. Berlin, De Gruyter.

Kaltenböck G., Keizer E. and Lohmann A. (eds.). 2016. Outside the clause. Studies in Language Companion Series, 178. Amsterdam, J. Benjamins.

Michaelis L.A. and Lambrecht K. 1996. Toward a construction-based model of language function: The case of nominal extraposition. Language 72, 215-247.