On the Emergence of the Progressive and other Aspectual Formations in Irish and Celtic

Ailbhe Ó Corráin 1
  • 1 Institute for Irish and Celtic Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ulster, Derry BT48 7JL, N. Ireland. ap.ocorrain@ulster.ac.uk


This paper examines the evolution of aspectual formations in Insular Celtic. It is argued that the emergence of these formations and their unusual morphosyntactic structure have been determined by internal systemic factors. It is also suggested that the manner in which these formations developed is of importance for our understanding of the processes involved in the emergence of grammatical subsystems in general. It is demonstrated that the Celtic aspectual system evolves in a manner reminiscent of the concept of developmental stratification and, significantly, that it evolves in a remarkably coherent and ordered fashion. The inexorable and structured nature of this evolution would seem to provide evidence for the claim that there may exist within languages a certain teleological impulse; in other words, that rather than being simply random, language change is in some fundamental and meaningful sense goal-directed.

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Dialectologia et Geolinguistica publishes contributions on the variation of languages world-wide, systematic and inherent, diachronic and synchronic, regional and social, based on either oral or written data. It is open to all theoretical and methodological approaches. The journal is the official journal of the International Society for Dialectology and Geolinguistics (ISDG/SIDG).