About me

I am a Lecturer in Theoretical Phonology in the department of Linguistics and English Language, School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. I received my PhD from the University of Tromsø, following a specialist degree at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Moscow State University. Previously I was Lecturer in Language and Linguistics at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland.

I specialize in theoretical phonology. My main areas of interest concern the nature of phonological features and the division of labour in phonological theory. Recently I have also been working on the interaction between segmental and suprasegmental phonology, particularly on the proper analysis of so-called ‘pitch accent’ systems. My other interests are morphology-phonology interaction (in particular stratal/cyclic models), historical phonology, and historical language contact.

Most of my work is on Celtic languages — particularly Welsh and Irish, and more recently also Scottish Gaelic (chan eil ach beagan Gàidhlig agam an-dràsta). My PhD thesis provides a comparison of selected aspects of the phonology of two Brythonic Celtic varieties (I am currently working on a book manuscript based on parts of the thesis, to appear in the series Edinburgh Studies in Theoretical Linguistics). My other particular interest is in Germanic — particularly North Germanic — languages. I have also worked on Slavic and Romance varieties.


Latest blog posts

This question, asked by the STV journalist Stephen Daisley, caused a bit of a stooshie on Twitter a couple of days back: Is there a strong, non-heritage case for spending taxpayers' money promoting Gaelic instead of thriving, globally-spoken languages? — Stephen Daisley (@JournoStephen) March 24, 2015 This is an important debate, and no points for guessing where I stand on this. I’m not going to rehearse why I think minority languages are important – check some of the replies for good ideas. Read more →

(Koen Sebregts points out that the title of my post is misleading, since the authors explicitly state they do not predict humidity to cause complex tones. I’ll leave it unchanged as a warning to myself.)

There is a new ‘geophonetics’ paper out at PNAS this morning Climate, vocal folds, and tonal languages: Connecting the physiological and geographic dots by Caleb Everett, Damián Blasi, and Seán Roberts. In a nutshell, the claim, as I understand it, is that since low humidity is inimical to precise manipulation of vocal folds, languages with ‘complex tone’ (understood as having a more than two-way pitch-based contrast) are unlikely to thrive in regions with low humidity (i.e. hot and arid, and all types of cold). This hypothesis appears to explain the areal patterns in the prevalence of tone.

Read more →
This past semester I taught a new course entitled Phonological Theory. Apart from the content, I decided to experiment a bit with the technical details, specifically using pandoc and reveal.js to do the slides and lecture notes. I’m a pretty consistent LaTeX user, so to the extent I do slides I do them in beamer. There is nothing inherently problematic with this, and AUCTeX saves typing a lot of the boilerplate, but writing two–three presentations per week is still time-consuming. Read more →

Curriculum vitae



  • Linguistics and English Language
    The University of Edinburgh
    Dugald Stewart Building
    3 Charles Street
    Edinburgh EH8 9AD
    United Kingdom
  • pavel.iosad@ed.ac.uk
  • +44 (0)131 650 3948
  • Dugald Stewart Building, 3.08

Latest & upcoming presentations


Latest papers

  • Iosad, Pavel. 2015. ‘Pitch accent’ and prosodic structure in Scottish Gaelic: Reassessing the role of contact. In Martin Hilpert, Jan-Ola Östman, Christine Mertzlufft, Michael Rießler, and Janet Duke (ed.), New trends in Nordic and general linguistics, 28–54. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter. Abstract  pdf
  • Iosad, Pavel. 2014. The phonology and morphosyntax of Breton mutation. In Lingue e linguaggio 13(1), 23–42 Abstract  pdf
  • Rhys, Catrin S., Pavel Iosad and Alison Henry (ed.). 2013. Minority languages, microvariation, minimalism and meaning: Proceedings of the Irish Network in Formal Linguistics. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Abstract

Before you ask, anghyflawn is Welsh for ‘incomplete’. I also get asked about my name a lot, so here is a brief explanation.

This website was created with Hugo, on the basis of the great design by Greg Restall.

About me

I’m Pavel Iosad, and I'm a Lecturer in Theoretical Phonology in the department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. ¶ You can always go to the start page to learn more.



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