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Adventures in English Syntax

By Robert Freidin

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Modality Across Syntactic Categories

Edited by Ana Arregui, Maria Luisa Rivero, and Andres Salanova

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Dissertation Information


Title: The Prosodic Structure of Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx Add Dissertation
Author: Antony Green Update Dissertation
Institution: Cornell University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 1997
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology;
Subject Language(s): Irish
Gaelic, Scottish
Manx
Director(s): Jay Jasanoff
Abigail Cohn
Draga Zec

Abstract: This dissertation is an examination of the prosodic structure of the closely related Goidelic languages: Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx. Several important claims about the prosodic hierarchy are made, using facts of stress placement, weight-to-stress effects, and syllabification. Evidence from non-Goidelic languages is brought to bear as well.

The approach is both synchronic and diachronic; the theoretical underpinnings are those of prosodic phonology and Optimality Theory. A theory of how phonological change is to be captured in an Optimality Theoretic framework is presented: it is argued that a phonological change happens when a constraint against a marked phonological pattern is promoted above other constraints. Further, it is shown that paradigm leveling can be accounted for within OT by means of faithfulness constraints governing related output forms.

The continuing role of the Weight-to-Stress Principle (WSP) in the history of the Goidelic languages is examined. It is shown that the WSP has had a recurring effect on the prosodic development of Old Irish from Proto-Insular Celtic and on the evolution of Old Irish into Middle and Early Modern Irish, and thence to the modern Goidelic languages.

It is further argued that a prosodic constituent called the colon must be included in the prosodic hierarchy between the prosodic word and the foot, with evidence from both Goidelic and non-Goidelic languages that certain facts of stress and prosodic size cannot be explained adequately without reference to the colon. In particular, it is shown that the so-called "forward stress" pattern of Munster Irish, East Mayo Irish, and Manx are most insightfully explained with the colon.

Finally, syllabification of consonants and consonant clusters is reviewed, with an argument that a requirement that stressed short vowels be in close contact with a consonant results in ambisyllabicity in Irish. The syllabification of rising-sonority consonant clusters is examined, and it is shown that shallower rises in sonority are permitted only at higher levels on the prosodic hierarchy; also examined is epenthesis in Irish and Scots Gaelic into clusters of falling sonority.