Date of Degree

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Linguistics

Advisor

Juliette Blevins

Subject Categories

First and Second Language Acquisition | Linguistics | Phonetics and Phonology

Keywords

Irish, Ireland, Palatalization, Velarization, Language change, L2 acquisition

Abstract

Irish is a Celtic language spoken in Ireland. It is currently endangered with only 73,803 people using the language on a daily basis as of 2016 (Official Office of Statistics, 2016). The reason for the decline is that English is the dominate language, pushing Irish to the periphery. Revitalization efforts have been put into place in an attempt to revitalize the language. There has been a growth in L2 speakers of Irish. The position of English as the dominate language, and high amounts of L2 speakers creates an environment where English is likely to influence the Irish language. The purpose of this thesis was to examine existing literature on the palatalization contrast and to add data of my own from L2 speakers of Irish in the United States to determine the influence English has on the palatalization contrast. L2 Irish speakers living in the United States have limited contact with native Irish and thus English would potentially have a stronger influence on the palatalization contrast. It was found that these speakers do exhibit control over the palatalization contrast in word initial position. However, there is reason to believe that there are differences in the phonetic realization of the L2 speakers production and native speaker production. It appears that the L2 speakers are producing palatalization as Cj clusters

rather than a palatal off-glide on the consonant. These results highlight that there is a certain level of competence in the language, dispelling myths that L2 speakers are not capable of communicating in Irish.

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