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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2017

Pavel Iosad*
University of Edinburgh


‘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.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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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


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