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.
I will present our joint work on Argyll Gaelic preaspiration with Michael Ramsammy and Patrick Honeybone at the conference of the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster (University of the West of Scotland, Ayr).
I will present Pitch accent and preaspiration in Gaelic: Reconsidering contact origins at the 15th International Congress of Celtic Studies at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
My paper ‘Pitch accent’ and prosodic structure in Scottish Gaelic: Reassessing the role of contact has appeared in New trends in Nordic and general linguistics, edited by Martin Hilpert, Janet Duke, Christine Mertzlufft, Jan-Ola Östman, and Michael Rießler (Mouton de Gruyter). Read more and download a copy here.
I received a Small Research Grant in the Arts and Humanities from the Royal Society of Edinburgh for the project The phonetics and phonology of short vowels in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, with Máire Ní Chiosáin (University College Dublin).
As a user of LaTeX, R and Emacs, I naturally write up my research in
.Rnw files, using knitr to produce
.tex sources. With Emacs, this means I have access to both the awesome AUCTeX for writing LaTeX and the excellent ESS environment for the statistics at the same time. However, being the absent-minded academic that I am, I sometimes end up opening the woven
.tex file instead of the
.Rnw and make edits to that, which means it gets overwritten and lost the next time I run
knitr. This is suboptimal, but of course Emacs allows us to fix it.
(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 →