An echoing tone

Pitch accent parallels in Scandinavia and Scotland

February 19, 2015

Nordic Research Network 2015, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Categories:  Scottish Gaelic Prosody North Germanic Language contact

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This talk was presented at the Nordic Research Network 2015 conference at the University of Edinburgh.

In this talk, I consider the origins of pitch accents in North Germanic and in Scottish Gaelic. I argue that in both cases the more plausible hypothesis involves the realization of an identical tonal melody over different temporal domains, particularly by the mechanism of peak delay. This is not a new idea, but I support it by a consideration of the interaction of tone and apocope in Zealand Danish and in Central Scandinavian. The application of this mechanism to Gaelic shows that tonal accents found in places like Lewis are a special case of a system that is widely spread in Ulster and Scotland, with Argyll and East Ulster as an innovating centre — recourse to contact with Norse is not necessary to explain their appearance. Find the slides below, or download the handout, which is slightly more detailed.

About me

I’m Pavel Iosad, and I’m a Senior Lecturer in the department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. ¶ You can always go to the start page to learn more.



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