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Auteur: Marina SNESAREVA

Stress Variation and its Development in Irish Dialects

Abstract/Résumé: Modern Irish is one of the living European languages that has several dialects but no standardised pronunciation. The absence of the pronunciation standard makes Irish an even more interesting case to study as there appear to be no obligatory rules that would constrain the language change and variation. Despite of the fact that dialectal variation in Modern Irish has already been described in minute detail (O’Rahilly 1976), there still remain some things to be further investigated, as the prosodic organization of the language is liable to change even within a life-span of one generation. Nowadays there exist three main Irish dialects, named after the region their native speakers live in – Connacht, Munster and Ulster Irish. The general tendency in all these dialects is to stress the initial syllable of the word, although there are several exceptions to the rule (ex. arís “again”, amárach “tomorrow”, inniu “today”). As for the stress variation in Irish dialects, first and foremost, it is connected with the words, having long vowels in non-initial syllables. In Ulster Irish, for example, such vowels are shortened or even reduced, the stress remaining on the first syllable of the word (Green 1997:74). Connacht Irish, on the contrary, more often than not maintains long vowels in non-initial syllables, which on the perception level equates to the weak secondary stress. In Munster Irish the situation is, however, drastically different: not infrequently it is the long vowel in the final syllable that becomes stressed in the flow of speech. In the present paper words of various length and with different stress patterns will be analysed in order to denote the existing differences (or their absence) among the dialects, the special attention being given to the comparison of Connacht and Munster Irish. For the computer analysis of speech samples the latest version of the programme Praat is used, and all the possible conclusions will be based on the derived data. Furthermore, a closer look at Ulster Irish seems to be necessary, especially due to the fact that the speakers of this dialect live not only in the Republic of Ireland, but also in Northern Ireland, and are thus subject to the greater influence of the English language. The main question that is bound to arise in this connection is: Is it possible that the stress pattern here was developed due to the constant contact of the two languages and if so, why is it different from the other Irish dialects? REFERENCES: Green, A.D., The Prosodic Structure of Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx. Diss., 1997. O’Rahilly, T., Irish Dialects Past and Present. With chapters on Scottish and Manx. Dublin Institute for advanced studies, 1976.