22nd Welsh Linguistics Seminar, Plas Gregynog, Wales
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I offer an analysis of ‘length’ and ‘tenseness’ found in an acoustic study of eight speakers. The results confirm the existence of a categorical pattern whereby the quality of long mid vowels in penults depends on the phonological height of the following vowel (Awbery 1984, Wmffre 2003). One speaker shows a distribution of tenseness that categorically tracks length in penults, much as described in the literature and shown for monosyllables by Mayr & Davies (2011). Finally, one speaker shows a fairly robust duration distinction between ‘long’ and ‘short’ vowels but no qualitative distinction, consistently producing ‘lax’ vowels irrespective of phonological quantity. I suggest that this latter system is historically original (contrary to the suggestions of Wmffre 2003, who sees lax vowels in words like cefn as a result of a lowering process, and of Rees 2013, who suggests that tensing of short vowels in penults precedes their lengthening). Finally, I offer a brief comparison of penults with unstressed vowels, which, contrary to descriptions, appear to show little continuous (or discrete variation), with non-trivial phonological consequences. Much of the presentation is similar to my 23mfm talk.