Scottish Gaelic has been cited as providing an instance of vowel excrescence (Hall 2006). One of the defining properties of excrescent vowels is that they are phonologically inert and are not motivated by – nor do they contribute to – the syllable structure of a language. In this paper, we report on a series of experiments which tap into native speakers' intuitions of syllable structure in Scottish Gaelic. Insofar as intuitions about syllable count and syllabification reflect phonological structure, our results suggest that the relevant vowels of Scottish Gaelic are not phonologically inert, and contribute directly to native speaker intuitions involving the number of syllables and the affiliation of consonants to those syllables. However, our results also establish that the relevant vowels have an intermediate phonological status, which also distinguishes them from underlying vowels.
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