Notes on Nolan 4


Type IIb: VpS ná P. This is similar to Type IIa discussed in my last post (‘sé is mian leis an Eaglais fearg Dé do mhaolú), but this time the particle precedes the predicate. An example is ‘sé céad rud a dhein sé ná a lámh a chur ‘na phóca, where the subject is céad rud a dhein sé and  precedes the predicate. In sentences like ‘sé rud Murchadh ná annscian diablaí the subject is rud Murchadh. In b’iad beirt iad san ná Maolmórdha agus Sitric the subject is beirt iad san.

sentences are always affirmative – they are always declaring an identification.  sentences also include a relative clause, whether expressed or implied. This is clear in ‘sé céad rud a dhein sé ná…, where the subject clearly contains a relative clause, but in rud Murchadh the relative is implied (=an rud ba Mhurchadh) and in beirt iad san a relative is also implied (=beirt is iad san). 

This brings us to why is used (and therefore the difference between Type IIa and Type IIb): introduces the material predicate, strongly emphasises the predicate, and the subject contains a relative clause (even if only implied) or a genitive phrase that can be resolved into a relative clause. Consequently, it seems that these affirmative sentences have borrowed by analogy from rhetorical questions, rhetorical negatives or comparatives:

a) ansan cé ‘déarfadh ná gur dheadhuine é? is rhetorical and much more pointed than is é ‘déarfadh gach éinne gur dheadhuine é. Consequently, it seems that became associated with the preceding predicate and thus gradually came to used in affirmative sentences too, producing is é ‘déarfadh gach éinne ná gur dheadhuine é, with all the force of a rhetorical question.

b) ní deirim ná go bhfuil an ceart agat is a rhetorical negative, meaning is é ‘deirim go bhfuil an ceart agat. So the  of the first sentence has come to be used in the latter too, producing is é ‘deirim ná go bhfuil an ceart agat.

c) the analogical use of in affirmative sentences has been reinforced by comparative use, where derives from an original ioná. For example in níl cuma is feárr chun na hoibre ‘ dhéanamh ná an Ghaelainn do shaothrú in sna háiteannach ‘na bhfuil sí beó fós the appears to function like the in is é ainm a bhí air ná Séadna, but in fact derives from the comparative use feárr ná (better than).  For this reason, owing to analogical development, you can say ‘sé cuma is feárr chun na hoibre ‘dhéanamh an Gaelainn do shaothrú or is é cuma is feárr chun na hoibre ‘ dhéanamh ná an Ghaelainn do shaothrú.

Consequently, the use of the particle in the affirmative copula of identification derives from the negative in rhetorical questions and rhetorical negatives and the comparative ioná, spreading therefrom by analogy.

In a similar way, ach has spread in some districts from rhetorical questions and negatives to affirmative copula sentences. Cad a dhéanfadh mac an chait ach luch a mharú? has produced is é rud a dheineann mac an chait ach luch a mharú. And níor dhein sé ach casadh agus imeacht leis has produced is é rud a dhein sé ach casadh agus imeacht leis.

3. Type IIc: VpS ach P – Nolan has the use of ach in affirmative sentences (as explained immediately above) down as Type IIc, but adds that PUL did not use this form.

4. Type IId: VpS mar P: in these sentences the word mar is pleonastic (as Nolan explains the use of “because” often is in English too – see “the reason why he remained was (because) he didn’t wish to go”). An example is ‘sé chúis ná héisteann sibhse le briathribh Dé mar ní hó Dhia sibh (the temporary predicate pronoun is é, because it does not refer to the feminine noun cúis, but to the predicate ní hó Dhia sibh).


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