Re: V2 languages
|From:||Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>|
|Date:||Monday, May 31, 1999, 17:38|
At 2:48 pm -0400 30/5/99, John Cowan wrote:
>Raymond A. Brown scripsit:
>> Yes, indeed. The same is the normal word order in Breton, which is also a
>> V2 language (unlike its sister language, Welsh).
>Interesting. Perhaps the V2 ordering came in from Old French.
Cornish was developing the same way - indeed, IIRC late Cornish had
changed, like Breton, to V2. I think basically it was an internal
development in Brittonic Celtic whereby the V2 position of focussed
sentences became generalized and the earlier, 'non-focussed' VSO ordering
It may well be that Old French and Middle English, respectively, had some
influence. That Welsh still retains the older form for normal, unfocused
sentences probably has much to do with the influence of the literary
language, especially the Welsh Bible of Elizabeth I's time. Elizabeth
ordered the translation of the Bible and of the Anglican Book of Common
Prayer into Welsh, not because she had any love of the Welsh language but
for purely political reasons: she wanted the Welsh to adopt her settlement
for the English Church (her father, Henry VIII, had incorporated Wales into
England, dividing it up into counties in the English manner; Wales was not
separated again until this century) - she did not want another bunch of
Celts hanging on to the "old religion" as the Irish were (and the Scots
Highlanders - but they were not her subjects).
However, her act of political expediency did Welsh a great favor, setting a
standard form which helped to prevent the dialects drifting hopelessly
>BTW, is Breton a pro-drop language like Italian or Spanish, or a
>pronoun-preserving language like English, German, or Modern French?
In the normal VSO word order, the subject pronouns must be used, followed
by 'a' and an invariable verb form corresponding with the 3rd singular; but
if some other part of the sentence is fronted then the _conjagated_ verb is
used with subject endings and no personal pronouns!
>And what about Welsh?Literary Welsh and the Welsh used on official forms etc is essentially
"pro-drop" but the spoken language is definitely "pronoun-preserving" (tho
unlike the languages you list above, the pronoun come after the verb).