Celtic influence on Old English vowels: A review of the phonological and phonetic evidence

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Abstract

Debate continues over what was spoken in Britain before, during and after it was settled by the Anglo-Saxons in the middle of the first millennium ad. Schrijver (2009) argues that phonological and phonetic developments in Old English provide vital clues. Accordingly, Old English changed in different ways from other Germanic languages due to contact with an early British Celtic variety that resembled Old Irish. Aspects of this proposal have been greeted with a degree of interest and approval by linguists but have escaped detailed review. This article argues instead that the Old English developments are closely aligned to those found in other Germanic languages. It also includes novel research results which explain the variation in late Northumbrian Old English <eo> and <ea> spellings on (morpho)phonological grounds, showing that this alternation too provides no evidence for Celtic influence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalEnglish Language and Linguistics
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jan 14 2018

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phonetics
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title = "Celtic influence on Old English vowels: A review of the phonological and phonetic evidence",
abstract = "Debate continues over what was spoken in Britain before, during and after it was settled by the Anglo-Saxons in the middle of the first millennium ad. Schrijver (2009) argues that phonological and phonetic developments in Old English provide vital clues. Accordingly, Old English changed in different ways from other Germanic languages due to contact with an early British Celtic variety that resembled Old Irish. Aspects of this proposal have been greeted with a degree of interest and approval by linguists but have escaped detailed review. This article argues instead that the Old English developments are closely aligned to those found in other Germanic languages. It also includes novel research results which explain the variation in late Northumbrian Old English and spellings on (morpho)phonological grounds, showing that this alternation too provides no evidence for Celtic influence.",
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