Skip to main content Accessibility help

The phonologisation of redundancy: length and quality in Welsh vowels*

  • Pavel Iosad (a1)


‘Phonologisation’ is a process whereby a phonetic phenomenon enters the phonological grammar and becomes conceptualised as the result of categorical manipulation of phonological symbols. I analyse the phonologisation of a predictable phonological pattern in Welsh, with particular attention to identifying criteria for whether phonologisation has occurred. I argue for a model where phonologisation experiences bottom-up and top-down biases. From the bottom up, there is pressure to phonologise phenomena with a categorical distribution; from the top down, there exist formal constraints on featural specification. I focus on the requirement for featural specifications to obey the Contrastivist Hypothesis, which denies that redundant features can be involved in phonological computation, in the context of a framework with emergent features. I suggest that the Contrastivist Hypothesis provides a useful boundary condition for emergent-feature theories, whilst independent phonologisation criteria provide contrastivist approaches with a more solid conceptual underpinning.


Corresponding author


Hide All

Portions of this paper were presented at the 1st Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology, the Edinburgh P-workshop, the GLOW workshop on Phonological Specification and Interface Interpretation (Brussels), the 8th North American Phonology Conference (Montreal), the 21st and 22nd Welsh Linguistics Seminars (Gregynog), the 1st Conference on Linguistic Diversity in Wales (Aberystwyth) and the 24th Manchester Phonology Meeting. Thanks to the audiences at these forums for questions and comments, particularly Gwen Awbery, Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero, Josef Fruehwald, Daniel Currie Hall and Michaela Hejná. For help with fieldwork, thanks to Christine Jones and Mererid Hopwood (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) and Diarmuid Johnson (Menter Rhos-y-Gilwen). At Phonology, a huge thanks to three anonymous reviewers, an anonymous associate editor and the editors for numerous questions and suggestions that have immeasurably improved the paper. All errors of fact or interpretation remain entirely mine.

The appendices referred to in the paper are available as online supplementary materials at



Hide All
Adank, Patti, Smits, Roel & van Hout, Roeland (2004). A comparison of vowel normalization procedures for language variation research. JASA 116. 30993107.
Awbery, Gwenllian M. (1984). Phonotactic constraints in Welsh. In Ball, & Jones, (1984). 65–104.
Awbery, Gwenllian M. (1986). Pembrokeshire Welsh: a phonological study. Llandysul: Welsh Folk Museum.
Ball, Martin J. & Jones, Glyn E. (eds.) (1984). Welsh phonology: selected readings. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Ball, Martin J. & Williams, Briony (2001). Welsh phonetics. Lewiston: Mellen.
Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo (2012). The architecture of grammar and the division of labor in exponence. In Trommer, Jochen (ed.) The morphology and phonology of exponence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 883.
Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo (2015). Amphichronic explanation and the life cycle of phonological processes. In Honeybone, & Salmons, (2015). 374–399.
Blaho, Sylvia (2008). The syntax of phonology: a radically substance-free approach. PhD dissertation, University of Tromsø.
Bloomfield, Leonard (1939). Menomini morphophonemics. Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Prague 8. 105115.
Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David (2015). Praat: doing phonetics by computer (version 6.0.08).
Botma, Bert & van Oostendorp, Marc (2012). A propos of the Dutch vowel system 21 years on, 22 years on. In Botma, Bert & Noske, Roland (eds.) Phonological explorations: empirical, theoretical and diachronic issues. Berlin: de Gruyter. 135154.
Burnham, Kenneth P. & Anderson, David R. (2004). Multimodel inference: understanding AIC and BIC in model selection. Sociological Methods and Research 33. 261304.
Bye, Patrik & de Lacy, Paul (2008). Metrical influences on fortition and lenition. In de Carvalho, Joaquim Brandão, Scheer, Tobias & Ségéral, Philippe (eds.) Lenition and fortition. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 173206.
Chomsky, Noam & Halle, Morris (1968). The sound pattern of English. New York: Harper & Row.
Clements, G. N. & Hume, Elizabeth V. (1995). The internal organization of speech sounds. In Goldsmith, John A. (ed.) The handbook of phonological theory. Cambridge, Mass. & Oxford: Blackwell. 245306.
Cowper, Elizabeth & Currie Hall, Daniel (2014). ReductiË ad discr~men: where features come from. Nordlyd 41. 145164.
Crosswhite, Katherine M. (2000). Vowel reduction in Russian: a unified account of standard, dialectal, and ‘dissimilative’ patterns. University of Rochester Working Papers in the Language Sciences 1. 107171.
Dresher, B. Elan (2009). The contrastive hierarchy in phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dresher, B. Elan (2014). The arch not the stones: universal feature theory without universal features. Nordlyd 41. 165181.
Dresher, B. Elan, Piggott, Glyne & Rice, Keren (1994). Contrast in phonology: overview. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 13. iiixvii.
Dunbar, Ewan, Dillon, Brian & Idsardi, William J. (2013). A Bayesian evaluation of the cost of abstractness. In Sanz, Montserrat, Laka, Itziar & Tanenhaus, Michael K. (eds.) Language down the garden path: the cognitive and biological basis for linguistic structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 360384.
Durand, Jacques (2005). Tense/lax, the vowel system of English and phonological theory. In Carr, Philip, Durand, Jacques & Ewen, Colin J. (eds.) Headhood, elements, specification and contrastivity: phonological papers in honour of John Anderson. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. 7797.
Ellis, Nick C., O'Dochartaigh, Cathal, Hicks, William, Morgan, Menna & Laporte, Nadine (2001). Cronfa Electroneg o Gymraeg (CEG): a 1 million word lexical database and frequency count for Welsh.
Grawunder, Sven, Asmus, Sabine & Anderson, Cormac (2015). On the correlation of acoustic vowel and coda duration in modern Welsh C(C)VC monosyllables. In The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS 2015 (ed.) Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.
Hall, Daniel Currie (2007). The role and representation of contrast in phonological theory. PhD dissertation, University of Toronto.
Hall, Daniel Currie (2011). Phonological contrast and its phonetic enhancement: dispersedness without dispersion. Phonology 28. 154.
Hannahs, S. J. (2013). The phonology of Welsh. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Harris, John (1994). English sound structure. Oxford: Blackwell.
Honeybone, Patrick & Salmons, Joseph C. (eds.) (2015). The Oxford handbook of historical phonology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hyman, Larry M. (1976). Phonologization. In Juilland, Alphonse (ed.) Linguistic studies offered to Joseph Greenberg on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday. Vol. 2: Phonology. Saratoga: Anma Libri. 407418.
Hyman, Larry M. (2013). Enlarging the scope of phonologization. In Yu, Alan C. L. (ed.) Origins of sound change: approaches to phonologization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 328.
Iosad, Pavel (2012). Representation and variation in substance-free phonology: a case study in Celtic. PhD dissertation, University of Tromsø.
Iosad, Pavel (2017). Welsh vowels. Open Science Framework. Available (February 2017) at
Iosad, Pavel (forthcoming). The ATR/Laryngeal connection and emergent features. In Botma, Bert & van Oostendorp, Marc (eds.) Primitives of phonological structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jakobson, Roman, Fant, C. Gunnar M. & Halle, Morris (1952). Preliminaries to speech analysis: the distinctive features and their correlates. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Jones, Christine & Thorne, David (1992). Dyfed: blas ar ei thafodieithoedd. Llandysul: Gomer.
Jones, Glyn E. (1971). Hyd llafariaid yn y Gymraeg. Studia Celtica 6. 175188.
Jones, Glyn E. (1984). The distinctive vowels and consonants of Welsh. In Ball, & Jones, (1984). 4064.
Jones, Glyn E. (2000). Iaith lafar Brycheiniog: astudiaeth o'i ffonoleg a'i morffoleg. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Kiparsky, Paul (2015). Phonologization. In Honeybone, & Salmons, (2015). 563579.
Kiparsky, Paul (forthcoming). Formal and empirical issues in phonological typology. In Hyman, Larry M. & Plank, Frans (eds.) Phonological typology. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.
Kniazev, S. V. & Waul'skij, E. V. (2007). Genezis dissimiljativnogo jakan'ja (v svjazi s problemoj fonologizacii foneti∏eskix javlenij). Russkij jazyk v nau∏nom osveª∏enii 13. 210224.
Krämer, Martin (2012). Underlying representations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lewis, David Gerwyn (1960). Astudiaeth eirfaol o Gymraeg lafar gogledd-orllewin Ceredigion. MA thesis, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Lindblom, Björn (1963). Spectrographic study of vowel reduction. JASA 35. 17731781.
Mackenzie, Sara (2013). Laryngeal co-occurrence restrictions in Aymara: contrastive representations and constraint interaction. Phonology 30. 297345.
Mackenzie, Sara (2016). Consonant harmony in Nilotic: contrastive specifications and Stratal OT. Glossa 1(1):12. 138.
Mayr, Robert & Davies, Hannah (2011). A cross-dialectal acoustic study of the monophthongs and diphthongs of Welsh. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 41. 125.
Mielke, Jeff (2008). The emergence of distinctive features. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Morén, Bruce (2001). Distinctiveness, coercion and sonority: a unified theory of weight. New York & London: Routledge.
Morén, Bruce (2006). Consonant–vowel interactions in Serbian: features, representations and constraint interactions. Lingua 116. 11981244.
Morris, Jonathan (2010). Phonetic variation in North Wales: preaspiration. In Proceedings of the Summer School of Sociolinguistics 2010.
Myers, Scott (2000). Boundary disputes: the distinction between phonetic and phonological sound patterns. In Burton-Roberts, Noel, Carr, Philip & Docherty, Gerard (eds.) Phonological knowledge: conceptual and empirical issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 245272.
Odden, David (2013). Formal Phonology. Nordlyd 40. 249273.
Pearce, Mary (2007). ATR allophones or undershoot in Kera? UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 19. 3143.
Pilch, Herbert (1958). Das kymrische Lautsystem. Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der indogermanischen Sprachen 75. 2457.
Prince, Alan & Smolensky, Paul (1993). Optimality Theory: constraint interaction in generative grammar. Ms, Rutgers University & University of Colorado, Boulder. Published 2004, Malden, Mass. & Oxford: Blackwell.
R Core Team (2016). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Version 3.2.4. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Vienna, Austria.
Scheer, Tobias (2011). A guide to morphosyntax–phonology interface theories: how extra-phonological information is treated in phonology since Trubetzkoy's Grenzsignale. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Scobbie, James M. (2007). Interface and overlap in phonetics and phonology. In Ramchand, Gillian & Reiss, Charles (eds.) The Oxford handbook of linguistic interfaces. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1752.
Sommerfelt, Alf (1925). Studies in Cyfeiliog Welsh: a contribution to Welsh dialectology. Oslo: I Kommission hos Jacob Dybwad.
Strycharczuk, Patrycja (2012). Phonetics–phonology interaction in pre-sonorant voicing. PhD dissertation, University of Manchester.
Thomas, Alan R. (1960). Ffonemau llafarog tafodiaith Dyffryn Wysg. Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 18. 265270.
Thomas, Alan R. (1961). Ffonemau cytseiniol tafodiaith Dyffryn Wysg. Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies 19. 193201.
Thomas, Alan R. (1966). Systems in Welsh phonology. Studia Celtica 1. 93127.
Thomas, Ceinwen H. (1993). Tafodiaith Nantgarw: astudiaeth o Gymraeg llafar Nantgarw yng Nghwm Taf, Morgannwg. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Torres-Tamarit, Francesc (2015). Length and voicing in Friulian and Milanese: or why rule-free derivations are needed. NLLT 33. 13511386.
Watkins, Arwyn T. (1967). Some phonological features of the Welsh dialect of Llansamlet (West Glamorgan). In Meid, Wolfgang (ed.) Beiträge zur Indogermanistik und Keltologie: Julius Pokorny zum 80. Geburtstag gewidmet. Innsbruck: Sprachwissenschaftliches Institut der Universität Innsbruck. 315322.
Wells, John C. (1979). Final voicing and vowel length in Welsh. Phonetica 36. 344360.
Wmffre, Iwan (2003). Language and place-names in Wales: the evidence of toponymy in Cardiganshire. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Wmffre, Iwan (2007). Review of Ball & Williams (2001). Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 55. 301307.
Wood, Simon N. (2006). Generalized additive models: an introduction with R. Boca Raton: Chapman & Hall/CRC.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Iosad supplementary material
Iosad supplementary material

 PDF (465 KB)
465 KB

The phonologisation of redundancy: length and quality in Welsh vowels*

  • Pavel Iosad (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.