Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Vowel insertion in Scottish Gaelic*

  • Michael Hammond (a1), Natasha Warner (a1), Andréa Davis (a1), Andrew Carnie (a1), Diana Archangeli (a1) and Muriel Fisher (a1)...

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.

Corresponding author
Hide All

This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0921685). Preliminary results for some of our studies were presented in Davis et al. (2011). We would like to thank Boyd Robertson, the staff at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in Teangue, Maoilios Caimbeul, the Columba 1400 Centre in Staffin for providing us with the facilities for doing this research, our 18 native speaker consultants for sharing their language with us, and Anna Bosch, Dan Brenner, Peter Brown, Ian Clayton, Micaya Clymer, Julia Fisher, Colin Gorrie, Heidi Harley, Lionel Mathieu, Chelsea Milburn, Diane Ohala, Jessamyn Schertz, Jae-Hyun Sung, Brenna Ward and audiences at the 6th Celtic Linguistics Conference and the 14th International Congress of Celtic Studies for their helpful comments and input. Thanks also to the editors, associate editor and three anonymous reviewers for very helpful feedback. All errors are our own.

Hide All
Dale J. Barr , Roger Levy , Christoph Scheepers & Harry J. Tily (2013). Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language 68. 255278.

Alain Content , Ruth K. Kearns & Uli H. Frauenfelder (2001). Boundaries versus onsets in syllabic segmentation. Journal of Memory and Language 45. 177199.

T. Florian Jaeger (2008). Categorical data analysis: away from ANOVAs (transformation or not) and towards logit mixed models. Journal of Memory and Language 59. 434446.

Rebecca Treiman & Catalina Danis (1988). Syllabification of intervocalic consonants. Journal of Memory and Language 27. 87104.

Rebecca Treiman & Andrea Zukowski (1990). Toward an understanding of English syllabification. Journal of Memory and Language 29. 6685.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0952-6757
  • EISSN: 1469-8188
  • URL: /core/journals/phonology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 91 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 204 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.