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Length and Quality in Welsh Mid Vowels: New Evidence from Mid Wales


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Previous accounts of the vowel systems of Welsh (e.g. G. E. Jones 1984; Ball and Williams 2001; Awbery 2009; Mayr and Davies 2011; Hannahs 2013) have focused mainly, if not exclusively, on differences of length, i.e. distinctions between long and short vowels, thereby assuming that vowel quality is largely determined by vowel length in Welsh. However, the empirical quantitative results presented in this article will show that the situation is far more complex, at least in two distinctive areas of mid Wales where a substantial degree of variation can be seen in the quality of various vowels. Indeed, it will be clear from the discussion that follows that vowel length is only one factor with which vowel quality varies, and that other linguistic factors appear to be equally as important, e.g. the vowel's position within the word (i.e. the syllabic environment), and the phonetic context (e.g. whether the vowel is followed by a single consonant or a cluster in stressed penultimates). It will therefore be argued that previous assumptions that Welsh vowels of the same length behave uniformly across all contexts do not appear to hold, and that the effects of other relevant linguistic factors have been largely overlooked.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Celtic Linguistics publishes articles and reviews on all aspects of the linguistics of the Celtic languages, modern, medieval and ancient, with particular emphasis on synchronic studies, while not excluding diachronic and comparative-historical work. This journal is of great interest to students of languages and Celtic studies, as well as members of the general public interested in the linguistic progression within Celtic languages and linguistic history. The editor is Lecturer in the Welsh Department at Aberystwyth University, and is supported by an editorial board including representatives from Oxford and Cambridge universities, and from universities across Europe and North America. Papers are invited in English, French or German on all fields/‘levels’ of analysis; phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics; formal or functional, cross-language typological or language-internal, dialectological or sociolinguistic, any theoretical paradigm.

    Mae’r Journal of Celtic Linguistics yn cynnwys erthyglau ac adolygiadau ar bob agwedd ar ieithoedd Celtaidd - modern, canoloesol a hynafol - gyda phwyslais arbennig ar astudiaethau syncronig, a heb eithrio gwaith diacronig a hanesyddol-gymharol. Y mae’r cyfnodolyn hwn yn ddefnyddiol i fyfyrwyr sydd yn astudio ieithoedd ac astudiaethau Celtaidd, yn ogystal â darllenwyr sy’n ymddiddori yn hanes datblygiadau’r ieithoedd Celtaidd. Mae’r golygydd yn Ddarlithydd yn Adran y Gymraeg, Prifysgol Aberystwyth, ac yn cydweithio â’r bwrdd golygyddol sydd â chynrychiolaeth o brifysgolion Rhydychen, Caergrawnt, ac o brifysgolion ledled Ewrop a Gogledd America.

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