Schapansky (1992b)

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  • Schapansky, N. 1992b. 'The Preverbal Position in Breton and Relational Visibility', Working papers in Linguistics 2, Burnaby SFU, 136-170. MA thesis, texte ou texte.

 "The purpose of this thesis is to give a unified account of the preverbal position in Breton, a Celtic language closely related to Welsh. In recent years, Breton preverbal position has been analysed as a topic position to which a nominal is moved from its underlying postverbal position. However, this type of analysis remains problematical. Using Relational Grammar developed by Perlmutter and Postal in the late 1970s, and, in particular, the Relational Theory of Case, proposed by Gerdts (1991), I show that the preverbal position is unmarked for a particular grammatical relation in Breton. Furthermore, each preverbal nominal must be licensed in that position by a particle e/a, éh/ez, or ne, acting like a "case assigner". 
 This is however subject to dialectal variations. In Breton, nominals are morphologically unmarked for case. The verb remains unmarked for person and number when free standing nominals are used. The word order is relatively 'free'. The licensing of the preverbal nominal is not sufficient to indicate the grammatical relation of that nominal. The relational identification of nominals is accomplished by two rules: Definiteness Condition and Subject Precedence. With these rules and the licensing properties of the particles, I can account for the preverbal position in Breton , including dialectal variations found in this language. I further extend this analysis and show how incorporated pronouns, bound personal morphemes appearing on the verb as well as the preposition, help the relational identification of the nominals. I also show how adjuncts are licensed preverbally and identified by coreferentiality with a postverbal bound morpheme. As a result of this analysis, I claim that word order in Breton is the ultimate expression of the rules of the grammar operating on the morphology as well as the syntax of this language. Word order in Breton cannot be taken as a basis on which the syntax is elaborated. Relational Grammar, taking grammatical relations as primitives, is better suited to treat Breton syntax than any theoretical framework incorporating the notion of configurationality."