Iosad, Pavel. 2016. Tonal stability and tonogenesis in North Germanic. In Ian Giles, Laura Chapot, Chris Cooijmans, Ryan Foster, and Barbara Tesio (eds.), Beyond borealism: New perspectives on the North, 80–97. London: Norvik Press

Categories:  North Germanic Prosodic structure Historical phonology

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The origin of North Germanic tonal accents is a question with a long history and a range of available answers. Although the basic facts are not in dispute, the accents’ historical development remains controversial. In this paper, I aim to contribute an argument in favour of the view that tonal accent arose in post-Viking Age North Germanic in connection with changes in syllable count (Oftedal 1952; Elstad 1980; Bye 2004, 2011; Hognestad 2012). I will argue that the genesis of ‘accent 1’ and ‘accent 2’ as a grammaticalization of syllable count need not be seen as an isolated, unique phenomenon in the history of the North Germanic languages: instead, it is a recurring event, as demonstrated by the genesis of new ‘tonal accent’ oppositions triggered by apocope in at least three further separate instances in Central Scandinavia, Zealand, and East Slesvig. I also adduce further typological parallels from West Germanic and from Goidelic Celtic.

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About me

I’m Pavel Iosad, and I'm a Lecturer in Theoretical Phonology 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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