15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Modelling Intonation in Three Irish Dialects

Martha Dalton, Ailbhe Ní Chasaide

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

This paper provides a preliminary account of features of the intonation structure of three Irish dialects, Donegal (Ulster Irish), Mayo, and Aran Islands, using the IViE system (Grabe et al., 1998, 2000). The sentence types examined were declarative and interrogative sentences: for the latter yes/no questions and wh-questions. The picture that emerges suggests that in intonation terms we are dealing with two rather than three dialects. The first we broadly term Connaught Irish (to include Mayo and Aran Islands, which despite fairly striking segmental differences have very similar prosodic properties). These differ strikingly from the Donegal dialect in terms of the realisation of the pitch accent. For example in declarative sentences, whereas Connaught Irish is characterised by a predominantly H* pitch accent, with downstep, the Donegal pattern is predominantly L*+H. The questions arises as to whether such apparently dissimilar patterns might be regarded as similar at an underlying level, differing in terms of the time alignment of the tonal material relative to the syllabic nucleus. This potential analysis is modelled on the treatment by Bruce and Gårding (1978) of word tones in Swedish dialects. The similarities of the Donegal (Ulster) patterns with those described by Grabe et al. (2002) for Belfast English are also discussed, as well as the likelihood of language contact as an explanation for the latter.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Dalton, Martha / Ní Chasaide, Ailbhe (2003): "Modelling intonation in three Irish dialects", In ICPhS-15, 1073-1076.