Phonological Quantity in Swedish Dialects : Typological Aspects, Phonetic Variation and Diachronic Change

by Schaeffler, Felix

Abstract (Summary)
This study investigates the realisation of phonological quantity in the dialects of Modern Swedish, based on a corpus containing recordings from 86 locations in Sweden and the Swedishspeaking parts of Finland. The corpus was recorded as part of the national SweDia project.The study is explorative in character. Quantity structures in Swedish dialects and their geographical distribution, as described in the dialectological literature, are compared to the results of a data-driven categorisation (cluster analysis). The results reveal an overall good correspondence of the data driven and the traditional categorisation, although with some deviations in the detail.The study is divided into two parts. The first part lays the foundation for the data-driven categorisation, which is then described in the second part. First, the phonology and phonetics of quantity in Swedish are described in terms of durational distinctions and vocalic quality differences that typically accompany the durational differences. Preaspiration, which appears to be a normative feature in some dialects, is covered as well. An overview of the historical development of the Swedish quantity system is provided, with special emphasis on a phonological interpretation of quantity changes. Thereafter, dialectological evidence is combined with phonological and typological considerations to develop a categorisation of Swedish dialects.The second part explains the methodology of cluster analysis and applies this method to vowel and consonant durations from one contrastive word pair, in order to obtain an alternative dialect categorisation. Analyses of vowel quality and preaspiration are performed in addition to the durational analyses. Hypotheses derived from the cluster analysis are then tested on one additional word pair recorded in 75 locations and on three additional word pairs recorded in four locations.The general pattern emerging from the cluster analysis is a categorisation of the dialects into three main types, a Finland-Swedish, a Northern and a Southern type. This categorisation shows a good geographical agreement with the categorisation that is derived from the analysis of the dialectological literature. Therefore, the durational patterns of the three types are interpreted as reflections of three different phonological systems: 4-way systems with vocalic and consonantal quantity, 3-way systems with vocalic quantity and with consonantal quantity only after short vowels, and 2-way systems with complementary quantity. From the historical perspective, the 4-way system constitutes the most conservative and the 2-way system the most recently developed system.Finally, it is argued that the historical development is one of the factors behind occasional mismatches between the data-driven and the dialectological categorisation. Data from one of the dialects, which has recently abandoned a 4-way system but has obviously retained the durational properties of the older system, is used as an example to illustrate this historical hypothesis.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Languages and linguistics; Linguistic subjects; Phonetics; Swedish dialects; phonological quantity; vowel and consonant duration; cluster analysis; linguistic typology; phonetic variation; diachronic change


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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