Iosad, Pavel. 2021. The phonology of Gaelic accent. In Wilson McLeod, Anja Gunderloch & Rob Dunbar (eds.) Cànan & cultar / Language & culture: Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 10, 185–204. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press

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Categories:  Scottish Gaelic Prosodic structure

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It is well known that many varieties of Gaelic show an opposition between two classes of words that is implemented by suprasegmental means such as pitch and glottalization. These phenomena have been compared to the ‘tonal accents’ of the North and West Germanic languages (notably by Ternes 1980, 2006), and a number of analyses have been proposed in the theoretical linguis- tics literature. In this paper, I summarize the patterns found across traditional varieties of Scottish Gaelic, and focus on the (limited number of) synchronic alternations that involve accent-related phenomena. In particular, I address the interaction between tonal accents and vowel-zero alterna- tions. I argue that it further supports the analyses of Gaelic tonal accents as reflecting differences in syllabification or more generally metrical structure, as envisaged by Oftedal (1956); Clements (1986); Smith (1999); Iosad (2015) and most recently in the comprehensive analysis by Morrison (2019). I also discuss what kind of new data is necessary to make further progress in our understanding of the accentual phonology of Gaelic.


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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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