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Nordic Prosody

Proceedings of the XIIth Conference, Trondheim 2016

Edited By Jardar Eggesbö Abrahamsen, Jacques Koreman and Wim van Dommelen

This volume contains articles based on the presentations given at the Nordic Prosody XII conference, which was held at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim, Norway) in August 2016. The contributors investigate various prosodic aspects, including intonation, rhythm, speaking rate, intensity, and breathing, using approaches ranging from phonetic and phonological analysis to speech technology methods. While most of the studies examine read speech, some of them explore the prosodics of spontaneous speech. The languages that receive most attention are Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic as well as Estonian, Latgalian and Polish. In addition to the larger Nordic languages, several papers focus on regional languages spoken in these areas.

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Tonality in earlier Icelandic (Kristján Árnason / Haukur Thorgeirsson)


Kristján Árnason, Haukur Thorgeirsson

Tonality in earlier Icelandic

Abstract: The paper reports evidence from poetics and poetry that in pre-reformation Icelandic a boundary signal was present in words historically corresponding to accent 1 and stød-words in modern Scandinavian. This phenomenon disappeared in the 16th-century Icelandic, but its existence at earlier stages sheds light on the origin and even the synchronic characteristics of the Scandinavian phenomena.

1. Introduction

In the long history of research on the origin of the distinction between Scandinavian accent 1 and accent 2 and the stød-phenomenon in Danish two historical interpretations have been most prominent. One proposal traces the phenomenon back to Proto-Nordic times, the time of the syncope, and the other looks for the origins in Common Nordic times after the year 1000. According to the former hypothesis, the distinction arose as a side effect of the great syncope. Words that lost a syllable in the syncope supposedly developed accent 2 whereas accent 1 characterised words which were unaffected (cf. Oftedal, 1952; Riad, 2014: 235). In the other scenario, the distinction is seen as having arisen later, namely in connection with the development of new disyllables in Common Nordic (medieval) times, through epenthesis and the addition of the definite article.

In the following we adopt the second hypothesis, based among other things on arguments put forth by Oftedal (1952), who says:

“The Scand. dialects of the tenth century … probably had an...

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