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Centres and Peripheries in Celtic Linguistics

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Edited By Maria Bloch-Trojnar and Mark Ó Fionnáin

This book examines various aspects of Celtic linguistics from a general and more specific point of view. Amongst the topics investigated is the system of Irish initial mutations from both a linguistic universal and contrastive perspective. Other contributions analyse and cast new light on deverbal adjectives and assertive and declarative speech acts in Irish, communication and language transmission, change and policy, Breton and Sorbian grammars, as well as other issues of sociolinguistics in Irish, Welsh and Breton.

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Brittonic and Goidelic Word-Initial Consonantal Alterations – Facts and Figures (Krzysztof Jaskuła)

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Krzysztof Jaskuła

Brittonic and Goidelic Word-Initial Consonantal Alterations – Facts and Figures

Abstract: In this chapter a survey of word-initial consonant mutations occurring in the Q-Celtic (Goidelic) and P-Celtic (Brittonic) groups of languages is presented. Special attention is paid to non-plosive consonants (fricatives and sonorants) participating in these alterations with a view to discovering the ways in which they behave in the two branches of the Celtic languages and to comparing their behaviour to that of stops in analogical contexts. Both perspectives, synchronic and diachronic, are taken into consideration while examining the mutations of consonants. Consonantal prefixations to vowel-initial words are also included in this chapter.

Keywords: Word-initial mutation, Celtic, Lenition, Nasalisation, Prefixation

1 Introduction

The Brittonic and Goidelic languages, also referred to as P-Celtic and Q-Celtic, respectively, are characterised by numerous word-initial sound changes. These mutations differ from group to group and from language to language in that neither their type nor number are the same. Word-initial or morpheme-initial sounds change shape not only after function words, but also in other syntactic configurations. All of these sound alterations, viewed from both diachronic and synchronic perspectives, are widely described in the literature (e.g. Jackson 1953; Kortlandt 1981, 1997; Hickey 1995, 2011; Russell 1995; McCone 1996). As contemporary approaches to the interpretation of word-initial mutations suggest, their prehistorical phonological status is no longer kept, as their new role is to indicate case, gender or number. They still look...

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