A new Welsh consonant shift, description and implications


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A new Welsh consonant shift, description and implications
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x, 302 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Griffen, Toby David, 1946-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Welsh language -- Consonants   ( lcsh )
Alternation   ( swd )
Konsonant   ( swd )
Kymrisch   ( swd )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 291-301).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Toby D. Griffen.
General Note:
General Note:

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Full Text










I Dduwies Gobaith


I would like to thank the members of my supervisory committee,

Professors Bohdan Saciuk, Chauncey Chu, Donald Dew, Eileen Sullivan,

and William Sullivan, for the help and enthusiasm they have shown me

in the preparation of this dissertation. I would also like to thank

Dr. T. Arwyn Watkins of the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth

for the comments he has given me and the interest he has shown in this

work. For their patience and cooperation, I owe a debt of gratitude

to my informants, Dr. Bedwyr Jones, Mr. Merfyn Morgan, and Mr. Idris

Roberts of Bangor; Mr. Hugh Jones of Bettws Garmon; and Mrs. Mona

Pringle of Gainesville. Unfortunately, space does not permit me to

thank by name the many professors both here and in Wales who have

given me invaluable guidance in my research in linguistics and in the

Welsh language. Nor could I list in this short space the names of my

fellow students who have given me advice and ideas which have added

greatly to the depth of my work. I would like to thank my wife, Donna,

and my relatives and friends whose confidence in me has made my work

considerably easier. This dissertation could not have been written

without the help of my parents,who gave me the foundations of my

education in sending me to The Citadel.


The purpose of this work is twofold--to describe certain consonant

phenomena in Welsh which may be indicative of a consonant shift in

progress, and to introduce a nonsegmental phonology, termed hierarchical

phonology. In describing the consonant phenomena, I use the trans-

formational generative approach to synchronic and historical descrip-

tion, as this approach is perhaps the most widely used model in lin-

guistics today.

The proposed hierarchical phonology is presently in the initial

stages of development. In order to maintain the flexibility necessary

to allow the model to develop freely, I use the basic functional/struc-

tural theoretical approach characteristic of the Prague school, especially

as it is found in the works of Trubetzkoy and Jakobson, To this basic

structure, I add the findings of experimental phoneticians, such as

Mermelstein and bhman, who have recently developed dynamic phonetic

models for the study of speech production,

In order to describe the consonant phenomena in Welsh, I first

must describe the phonology of the consonant subsystem, especially as

regards the 'mutation system', a system of initial consonant gradation.

Chapter 1 describes the phonological aspects of the system, while

Chapter 2 treats the grammatical motivation associated with the muta-

tions. Chapter 3 then introduces an area in which the otherwise

regular system appears to become highly irregular. The irregularity

of the system in the 'deviation' is attributed in Chapter 4 to a case

of historical change in which voiceless aspirated stops appear to be

changing to voiced unaspirated stops. Further examination of these and

related phenomena in Chapter 5 gives strong indications that the changes

exhibited in the mutation system are indicative of a consonant shift and

that the shift is presently in progress in the Welsh language. In

Chapter 6, however, we find that the conclusion that a consonant shift

is in progress in Welsh is based upon the acceptability of the generative

description and that the generative description is in many ways faulty.

The hierarchical model is then proposed in an attempt to provide

a more reliable description of Welsh and to incorporate recent evidence

from phonetics into phonology. The notion that aspiration, a prosodic

opposition, forms the basis of the Welsh consonant subsystem is intro-

duced in Chapter 7 and supported by data from the spoken and written

language. Using this prosodic gradual opposition as a base raises

doubts as to the validity of a segmental phonology. Coupling these

doubts with the phonetic dynamic models in which speech sound is described

without recourse to segmentation, I then construct a basic nonsegmental

model, or hierarchical phonology, in Chapter 8. This model is applied

to the phenomena in Welsh in Chapter 9. Thus, Chapter 9 is the conclusion

of the work, combining the hierarchical phonology with the consonant


At the center of this hierarchical phonology is the notion that the

phonology must reflect the evidence of phonetics. In keeping with this

notion, Chapter 10 examines the evidence from acoustic and physiological

phonetics supporting the prosodic gradual opposition of aspiration, upon

which the consonant subsystem of Welsh is based, at least as it is

presented in Chapter 9. The importance of establishing the phonological


structure of phonetic evidence cannot be overemphasized. By a carefully

controlled procedure of abstracting only justifiable phonetic charac-

teristics as opposition, we canmaintain a structure which is not only

consistent but also reliable, at least as far as our current knowledge

of phonetics will allow.

In order to facilitate understanding in the midst of frequent

cross-references, I use a reference system for rules, figures, tables,

etc., based upon the section numbers, For example, a rule referred to

as rule 1.3 is the rule found in section 1.3. Where more than onesuch

rule is found in a section, I use letters, such as rule 1.1.a, rule

1.1.b, etc. This system will hopefully prove more helpful than one

using simply numbers in sequence.


Acknowledgments iv

Preface v

Abstract x

Chapter 1, The Phonology of Mutation 1
1.0 The Mutation System 1
1.1 Soft Mutation 7
1.2 Nasal Mutation 13
1.3 Spirant Mutation 16
1.4 Aspirate Mutation 16
1.5 Functionality and Redundancy 17
1.6 The Phonology of Mutation 20
Notes to Chapter 1 22

Chapter 2, The Grammar of Mutation 24
2.0 Grammatical Motivation for Mutation 24
2.1 Environment I 28
2.2 Environment II 31
2.3 Environment III 46
2.4 Environment IV 49
2.5 Environment V 54
2.6 Overlapping Environments 55
2.7 Constituent Environments 57
2.8 The Totality of the Environments 60
Notes to Chapter 2 63

Chapter 3, The Deviation--Synchronic Analysis 65
3.0 Exceptions and Counter-Examples 65
3.1 The Problem of gan 69
3.2 The Minor Rule Based upon Iganl 71
3.3 The Minor Rule Based upon JkanJ 76
3.4 Evidence for the Minor Rule 80
3.5 The Synchronic Description 83
Notes to Chapter 3 85

Chapter 4, The Deviation--Historical Analysis 86
4.0 The Generalization of the Minor Rule 86
4.1 The Historical Development of the Minor Rule 89
4.2 The Generalization to the Natural Class 95
Notes to Chapter 4 98


Chapter 5, A New Welsh Consonant Shift 99
5.0 Sound Change and Consonant Shifts 99
5.1 The Position of Neutralization 104
5.2 Medial Positions and Clusters 111
5.3 Initial Position 118
5.4 Quod Erat Demonstrandum 124
Notes to Chapter 5 127

Chapter 6, Problems of Description 128
6.0 Problems in the Generative Description 128
6.1 The Inconsistencies of Soft Mutation 134
6.2 Markedness and the Minor Rule 140
6.3 Directions for Phonological Inquiry 148
Notes to Chapter 6 151

Chapter 7, Aspiration in Welsh 152
7.0 The Basic Opposition of Welsh Consonants 152
7.1 The Prosodic Nature of Aspiration 157
7.2 Aspiration in the Phonological System 165
7.3 The Implications of a Prosodic Base 182
Notes to Chapter 7 185

Chapter 8, An Hierarchical Phonology 186
8.0 The Phonetic Basis of Oppositions 186
8.1 The Organization of Oppositions 192
8.2 An Hierarchical Structure in Phonology 204
8.3 Toward an Hierarchical Phonology 211
Notes to Chapter 8 217

Chapter 9, An Hierarchical Description 218
9.0 Theoretical Implications in the Application
of the Model 218
9.1 The Welsh Consonant Subsystem 222
9.2 Mutation, Lenition, and Provection 233
9.3 The Deviation 245
9.4 The New Welsh Consonant Shift 250
Notes to Chapter 9 263

Chapter 10, The Phonetic Basis 265
10.0 Phonetic Justification 265
10.1 Acoustic Basis of Aspiration 268
10.2 Physiological Basis of Aspiration 280
10.3 Behavioral Justification of Aspiration 284
Notes to Chapter 10 290

References 291

Biographical Sketch


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Toby D. Griffen

June, 1975

Chairman Bohdan Saciuk
Major Departments Linguistics

In a generative description of the Welsh consonant subsystem,

including the 'mutation system' (a system of initial consonant gradation),

some irregularities in an otherwise regular system indicate that there may

be a consonant shift in progress in which voiceless aspirated stops are

changing to their voiced unaspirated cognates. In examining the evidence,

however, several problems are found in the description, problems stemming

from the nature of the generative description. Developments in phonetics,

especially the recent physiological and acoustic dynamic models which

describe speech without segmentation, are then combined with a reanalysis

of Welsh based upon the prosodic gradual opposition of aspiration, in

order to create a nonsegmental approach to phonological description,

termed hierarchical phonology. This hierarchical phonology is used to

provide a more regular description of the Welsh consonant subsystem, a

description more closely based upon findings of experimental phonetics.



1.0 The Mutation System. It is a property characteristic of Celtic

languages that the initial consonant of a word will vary depending upon

the grammatical, that is, morphological and syntactic, context affecting

the word (compare Lewis and Pederson 1937). This system of initial con-

sonant gradation is termed the 'mutation system',

Through its relationship with grammatical contexts, the mutation

systems of the Celtic languages function in much the same way as the

inflectional systems of languages such as Latin, For example, in

Latin an adjective modifying a first declension feminine noun in the

nominative case will have to agree in number, case, and gender with

that noun. In Modern Welsh, on the other hand, the adjective modifying

a feminine noun will undergo a particular mutation--a change in the

initial consonant. Furthermore, in Latin a noun which is the object of

the verb will be marked by a particular inflectional ending, usually the

accusative, In Welsh, however, the object of an inflected verb will

undergo a particular mutation of the initial consonant.

Throughout the Celtic languages, the changes of initial consonants

reflect a certain systematicity, One type of mutation may be thought

of as exhibiting a process of lenition, another of nasalization, and

another of frication. As I demonstrate below, these changes are indeed

regular applications of processes representing certain phonetic charac-

teristics (or, at least, they can be described in this manner). These

mutations are, then, as Hamp 1951 points out, morphophonological.

In Modern Welsh, the mutations are dependent upon the grammatical

context. Although the system is now morphophonological, it developed

from phonological alternations that existed during the transition from
Brythonic to Old Welsh (up to about the end of the eighth century--

Morris Jones 191316). For example, when Brythonic*/m/ occurred between
vowels, it was realized in Old Welsh as /A/, a voiced bilabial nasal

fricative, in Modern Welsh as /v/. At the same time that these phono-
logical alternations were taking place, the final syllables of Brythonic

words were being lost, including the feminine ending */a/. Thus, the

*/m/ in Brythonic *oinos markos */oinos markos/ 'one horse' is realized

as /a/ in Modern Welsh un march /in marx/, as there is no vowel before

the */m/ to cause the phonological change in the Brythonic words while,

on the other hand, the */m/ in Brythonic *oing maam */oinaa mamans/

'one mother' is realized as /v/ in Modern Welsh un fan / n vaa/, as

there is a vowel before the */m/ which caused Brythonic */m/ to be
realized as Old Welsh /0/, Modern Welsh /v/ (see Morris Jones 1913:161).

Although the phonological context was sufficient to bring about
alternations in the Brythonic-to-Old Welsh period, it is not sufficient

(nor even necessary) to cause alternations now. The examples above
should show that there is no phonological motivation for the change in

Modern Welsh.
The usual way of depicting the mutation system in Modern Welsh in
the standard orthography (see Bwrdd Gwybodau Celtaidd 1942), is presented

in Table 1.O.a. The phonological segments corresponding to the ortho-

graphy in Table 1.O.a can be found in Table 1.O.b.i
The left-hand column in the tables contains the segments known as

'radicals', The radical segment is the one listed in the dictionary.

For example, the word 'mother' in the example above would be entered

as maa, regardless of the fact that it is realized in that particular

phrase as faa.

Whenever none of the mutation rules apply, the radical is the

segment realized. Moreover, where a blank space occurs in the tables,

the radical is realized. For example, in the grammatical context of

spirant mutation, man /mam/ would simply be realized as man /maa/,

there being no spirant nutation form of /a/.

Within these initial chapters (1 through 5), in which I describe

the new Welsh consonant shift and present arguments for it, I utilize

basically the transformational-generative framework, as found in Chomsky

and Halle 1968. The notation which I use, however, is that of Schane

1973, as this notation is compatible with the notations of most other

schools of linguistics and it allows us to differentiate between a

phonological segment (in slashbes-/ /) and a phonetic segment (in

brackets--, 1) The underlying segment is enclosed in vertical bars

(I I).2
In the generative framework, the mutation system of Modern Welsh

is expressed as a series of rules which derive a phonetic segment from

an underlying segment. This ita -and-process framework (see Hockett

1954) assumes, then, that there is an item at an abstract 'deep' level
which is transformed through orderly processes into an item at the

'surface' level. Thus, for every line in the mutation tables, there

is an uderlying segment (not to be confused with the morphophoneme of

Hamp 1951, which is an abstraction of surface oppositions, and this

underlying segment undergoes various process rules in order to generate

the surface phonetic segments.









a/*/ is a voiceless lateral fricative.
b/,/ is a voiceless trill.
CThese are voiceless aspirated nasals,

Table 1.0.a
The Mutation Systea--Othography

soft mutation nasal mutation spirant mutation

b mh ph

d nh th

g ngh ch

f m

dd n

(deletes) ng




Table 1.O.b
The Mutation System--Phonological Transcription

soft mutation nasal mutation spiraht mutation

b hC f

d nhC e

g hc x

v a

6 n













In the case of the mutation system, I consider the underlying

segment to correspond to the radical. There are several reasons for

positing the radical as the underlying segment. First of all, the

radical is the dictionary form, considered by the native speaker to

be the basic form. It is the Welshman's intuition (and the traditional

way of teaching the system) that the mutation forms are derived (via

'mutation') from the basic radical. In fact, according to Professor

Ceinwen Thomas of the University of Wales at Cardiff (personal comaunica-

tion), when a Welshman is shown the word phen /fen/ spirantt mutation

form of pen /pen/ 'head')3 without the grammatical context, he is

generally at a loss as to how to translate or define it, until it is

put in its radical form.

In addition to the intuition of the native speaker, there are

also distributional considerations for treating the radical as the

underlying form. As stated above, where there is no nasal or spirant

mutation form, it is the radical which is realized. Moreover, the

radical is realized in the absence of a rule within the system itself.

Thus, it wold appear that the radical is the underlying form, as it

is the neutral segment (unmarked in the Prague sense of the term--see

Trubetzkoy 1969).

As we turn our attention to considerations more closely associated

with generative methodology, we can see that the various mutations

can be derived from the radical with fewer feature changes than they

can from any other mutation form. For example, the nasal and spirant

mutations share more features (per line in the tables) with the radical

than they do with the corresponding soft mutation segment. Thus,

greater simplicity in phonological rules can be realized if we posit

the soft mutation forms as underlying.

Perhaps the best motivation for positing the radical as the under-

lying segment is the fact that all mutations can be predicted from the

radical, but the radical cannot be predicted from all mutation forms.

For example, there are two occurrences of /v/ in the soft mutation,

one of which corresponds to the radical /b/ and one to the radical /m/

(compare Fowkes 19491208; Griffen In press a). Given underlying Ivl,

then, we would be at a loss as to whether to derive /b/ or /m/ in the

radical environment. Given underlying I(b and jm|, however, we would

have no problem deriving /v/ in the soft mutation environment. This

is an important consideration, for the generative model has formal,

explicit rules operating from deep to surface structure, but not from

surface to deep, as shown in Chomsky and Halle 1968,294 (see also

Griffen In press a). As such, then, cases of diversification which

cannot be predicted in this formalism are to be avoided at all costs,

and only the radical can assure us of no diversification.

Temporarily leaving the generative framework, if we were to view

the phonology as a series of abstractions from the acoustic data, then

we might consider this underlying form to be the most basic segment.

In the terminology of Trubetzkoy (1969sChapter 4; compare also Venne-

mann 1972), it is the least marked segment with respect to the distinc-

tive opposition (such as voice, nasality, and continuance). In such

a framework, the underlying segment (the morphophoneme) would become

marked for various distinctive features in the p]rcess of the phonological

rules, Of course, the one feature (opposition) that is constant through-

out this process of marking the basic segment is the phonological

petition of articulation.4

This notion of abstraction is not a part of generative phonology

as found in Choasky and Halle 1968. Nevertheless, it is a useful way

of viewing the mutation system, Of course, in a rigorous generative

description, we can only use the analysis-by-synthesis methodology

developed in Halle and Stevens 1964 and Chonsky and Halle 1968.

As this is a generative description, the rules and segments used

herein must be specified by distinctive features. I therefore list the

features and their specifications for the consonants of Cyraeg Safonal

(that is, the Standard Welsh--see, for example, Watkins 1961) in Table

1.O.c, The features used are those found in Chomasky and Halle (19681

Chapter 7), Instead of heightened subglottal pressure, however, I

use aspiration. The justification for using aspiration as a distinctive

feature in addition to voice in Welsh is provided in Chapter 7. The

feature trill is necessary as a means of distinguishing /0/ from /r/.

I do not include the affricates, and I do not deal with them in this

study. These are, however, treated in Griffen 1974b (see also R.O.

Jones 1971,

1.1 Soft Mutation. As we can see in Table 1,O.b, the soft mutation,

also known as lenition, cannot be characterized by any one single

feature change using the binary features of Chomsky and Halle 1968.

In fact, the soft mutation cannot be described within the generative

framework as a single phonological rule.

Nevertheless, there is a degree of phonetic unity within this

process, because each rule in the soft mutation serves to create a

segment which is more lenis (or soft--see Malmberg 1963:52) than the

underlying segment. In strictly binary features, this lenition process

k I

i.' I I

t I+ +

r- I +

,m + +

44 + +

0C + +

> + +

x + +
+ +

0 + +

rB I +

I I +

: +I +

+ +
o o I +

e l> + +

S+ +

S+ +

+ +

P4 + +

I + I

S + +


+ I

+ I I


, I I

I + +




I + +



S + +

S I +

+ +

S+ +

+ +

+ +

* + +

+ +
S + S

* I I

I + I

+ +

+ I

I + I

I I +

+ I +

I + I

I I +

I i +

I + *

I + I

I I +

I i +

I + I

+ I

I + 1

+ I

I +

I I +

I I +

I I I I + I

SI I + +


I + +

+ I I


I + +


S + I


+ +

+ I

S+ +

I + I

t + i

I + I

I i +

1 I +

* I +

I +

* + I

I + I

I + 1 I I

I + 1 I I

I +


I -J

* .I


* V

* I


* I




0 0 4 3


O U >- U C~ <> z

must be described through other binary features comparee Cherry, Halle,

and Jakobson 19531 Vennemann and Ladefoged 1973). I return to this

issue in section 6.1.

The soft mutation can be divided into five generative phonological

rules. These are posited as follows:

a. Jp I /b/
-vcd +vcd +obs
Iti /d/ -asp t

Iki /g/

In other words, all voiceless aspirated stops become voiced and unas-

pirated. Of course, this rule assumes the proper graaaatical context,

which I posit in detail in the next chapter.5

The advantage of the feature specification notation in phonological

rules is that it allows us to capture a generalization. In this case,

voicing and deaspiration take place in this class of segments under

soft mutation regardless of the position of articulation. Moreover,

this rule demonstrates a change in an entire natural class.

The notion of a natural class is central to this description.

According to Harms (1968:26), there are two considerations involved

in the notion of a natural class 'First, it is a class of segments

that can be specified with fewer features than any individual member of

the class.... Second, the features shared by the class members should

be limited to those which have a certain degree of phonetic plausibility.'

Recall that in rule 1.1.a we do not specify any features of position of

articulation (such as back, anterior, and coronal), because the rule

affects all stops regardless of position. Thus, the first consideration

of a natural class is satisfied. As for the second condition, there

should be little argument as to the plausibility of the class of voice-

less aspirated stops within the phonetic system. This class has been

oneibf the traditional classes in linguistic description--the aspiratae

(as opposed to the tenues and mediae.

Within the generative framework, then, the voiceless aspirated

stops (aspiratae) function as a single class. In the remaining soft

mutation rules, however, we cannot form such a neat generalization

within this framework.

The voiced unaspirated stops undergo the following changes,

b. Ibt /v/ C
(+obq' &cny / +vcd
Idl /6/ L-kJ
c. IgI Jvcd

There are two aspects of rules 1.1.b-c which are somewhat dis-

concerting. The first (and more minor) is that there appears to be

a connection in this rule between continuance and nonbackness. That

is to say that we might want to find a relationship between the notion

of continuance and that of nonbackness. What relationship there may

be, however, is purely a negative one--nonbackness is introduced merely

as a means to bleck the rule from applying to Igl.

The other disconcerting aspect of these rules is that fact that

Ibl, idl, and j|g are members of a natural class but they do not

undergo a common rule. This problem has been approached by Zwicky 1974,

in which an intermediate /y/ is posited. This allows for the natural

class to undergo a common rule, but it adds another rule to the grammar--

/y/ must be deleted wherever it occurs. Now historically, there was

indeed a /y/ as the soft mutation form of )gI (Morris Jones 19131161).

Resurrecting such a segment merely for the purpose of deleting it,
however, is a questionable practice. We must bear in mind that in the
generative item-and-process framework, such an intermediate form is an
item in the derivation, not simply a place-holder to demonstrate the

incompatibility of certain features, and as an item its creation must
be fully justified.
Returning once more to the initial disconcerting aspect, the use
of nonbackness to block the application in one member of a natural

class, we can see a bothersome question in the absence of the historical

/y/. As the inclusion of the bilabial and the apico-dental voiced
stops in a single rule requires fewer features and the pair are clearly

to be classed together, is what we have truly a natural class? Is the
class of /b/ and /d/ without /g/ an entire natural class? Clearly the
segments represented in rule 1.1.b do not represent as much of a natural
class as those represented in rule 1.1.a.
The next soft mutation rule is as follows

d. Ii -* /v/
p+ns] rent +cd
L-voJ L-nas nt

As mentioned above, historically there was an intermediate stage

in which 0/ is used. Although we could gain simpler rules from a
stage using /0/ between Im( and /v/, such a stage would be as unmotivated
as the proposal for using /y/ in our synchronic description. Note
should be taken that through soft mutation, Jb| and Iml neutralize into

/v/. This fact could prompt us to write a rule whereby voiced labials,
regardless of nasality, become fricatives. This would, however, complicate

the rules, as a rule affecting Idl would have to be included separately

(unlike mla, |nI undergoes no mutation).

Finally, there is the following soft mutation rules

e. A( /1/ pla
,[+con] vo / tr
w. /r/ L+vcdl +cnt

Here again, there is a problem with natural classes. Although the

output of rule 1.1.e clearly forms a natural class, the class of liquids,

the input does not. It is difficult, then, to make any insightful

statement about the natural class involved in this rule.

Rule 1.1.e makes use of a notational device known as 'braces'.

The question needs to be asked as to whether this is one rule or two.

By leaving features unspecified, such as the position of articulation

features in 1.1.a, we collapse rules into a more general statement.

The braces, on the other hand, do not represent a generalization, but

stand for the logical exclusive 'or' relationship. As each application

of each rule is a singulary entity in a temporal (linear) plane, it

could be argued that the effect of rule 1.1.e is that of two rules,

and the method of collapsing the rules is merely a notational convenience

rather than a statement of generalization.

According to Chomsky and Halle (19681333). 'two partially identical

rules may be coalesced into a single rule by enclosing corresponding

nonidentieal parts in braces.' As the interpretation of Chomsky and

Halle is clearly that the braces collapse two rules into one, I treat

rule 1.1.e as a single rule. The objection, however, ought to be con-

sidered from a logical viewpoint.

Thus, given the notion that rules 1.i.b (in spite of the fact that

it implies a relationship between continuance and nonbackness and works

to exclude a natural class) and 1.i.e (in spite of the logical considera-

tions regarding the braces) each represent a single rule, the soft

mutation of Modern Welsh can be represented in five rules, I do not

believe that a credible argument could be made for collapsing the rules

any further, as any simplicity that could be gained from collapsing the

rules so as to create fewer rules would in turn be lost in the extreme

complexity of the rules themselves.

So far, I have not given any examples of the application of these

mutation rules. The rules are intricately connected with their gram-

matical contexts, and I give examples of them in Chapter 2, where I

address these contexts,

1.2 Nasal Mutation. The soft mutation is described in five generative

rules. Even if these could be collapsed further, the fact would remain

that in the feature system of Chomsky and Halle 1968, which is neces-

sarily binary, there are five processes involved--voicing, continuance,

deletion, continuance and denasalization, and vocalization and voicing.

The nasal mutation, on the other hand, can be described in only one

rule. This rule can be written as in 1,2.c, below.

We should notice that in rule 1.2.c, the voiceless aspirated stops

(aspiratae) and the voiced unaspirated stops mediaa) together form the

natural class of all stops. This is reflected in the notation by the

use of a minimum of features. Nonetheless, I split the rule into two

rules in order to maintain the notion that voiceless aspirated stops and

voiced unaspirated stops are indeed two different natural classes in

the operation of the mutation system (compare also section 1.3), and the

nasal mutation, according to Professor Robert Owen Jones of the Univer-

sity College of North Wales at Bangor (personal communication), can be

thought of as aspirated stops becoming aspirated nasals and unaspirated

stops becoming unaspirated nasals (see Griffen 1974bs159).

The two rules and the collapsed single rule are written as follows.

a. pl /h/ "I
jti /nh/ [-nas] -. [+-as] / -voc
jk| /ah/ .asw

b. |Ibi- /m/
Idl /n/ [-nas] [,+nas] / -voc

[-nas] -* [4nas] / +n

As Modern Welsh has no segments that are both nasal and continuant

(/0/ is found in Old Welsh but changes to /v/, as mentioned above),

there is no need to specify continuance in these rules (at least by the

feature criteria of Chomsky and Halle 1968).

As stated above, there is certainly a natural class of stops

(though it aust be subdivided into two classes in soft mutation), and

this natural class becomes nasal in the nasal mutation. In effect, then,

there is only one nasal mutation rule (1.2.c). On the other hand, the

voiceless aspirated stops and the voiced unaspirated stops act quite

differently in the other mutations. Now this fact does not make all stops

less of a natural class in the nasal mutation, but it does necessitate

our examining the two classes of stops separately in a number of operations

in which they could be considered a single class. Moreover, it becomes

necessary to refer to the aspiration of the nasal segments in 1,2.a

as distinct from the lack of aspiration in 1,2.b, especially as this

aspiration may be vital in the productive nature of certain mutations.

One other aspect of the nasal mutation which becomes important in

this study should be mentioned. The voiceless aspirated nasals are only

found as a result of mutation--they are nowhere found as underlying

segments. The aspiration involved, moreover, is not the same degree

as that found in the underlying voiceless stop. In fact, it is so

strong that R.O. Jones 1969 describes it as a glottal fricative, This

fact should be kept in mind, as it is particularly crucial to the argu-

ments presented (see Chapter 7).

This heightened aspiration is always realized as the pure [h]

fricative, even if the corresponding stops are (noncontrastively)

affricated. For example, Mrs. Mona Pringle of Gainesville, Florida, is

a native speaker of the Colwyn Bay dialect of North Welsh. Although her

English /t/ is aspirated [th],her Welsh /t/ is affricated [ts]. None-

theless, this affrication has no effect upon her nasal mutation forms,

which are realized with the heightened aspiration [h].

As pointed out in Griffen 1975, the aspiration of the voiceless

stop is sufficient to devoice the following liquid but not the following

nasal. The heightened aspiration of the nasal mutation form, on the

other hand, is sufficient to devoice the following liquid or nasal, and

as shown in section 7.1, it continues into the vowel following the

liquid or nasal. Thus, for example, in the Bangor dialect penelin

[pnelin] 'elbow' is realized in nasal mutation as shenelin [nhelin]

(see Fynes-Clinton 1913sr36), and that of pleth [pjese] is [Chese]

(Fynes-Clinton 1913:432).

1.3 Spirant Mutation. The final mutation which affects consonants is

the spirant mutation. This mutation also has the most restricted range

of application, affecting only voiceless aspirated stops. The spirant

mutation rule is posited as follows

Ip|l- /f/
Iti- /e/ [+obs] [cnt] / I d

Iki /x/

At this point, I should stress the regularity with which the

voiceless aspirated stops have been treated in the mutation system,

Whereas the voiced unaspirated stops do not operate as an entire

natural class in the soft mutation and are not even affected by the

spirant mutation, the voiceless aspirated stops always operate as a

natural class--in rules 1.1,a, 1.2.a (and 1.2.c), and 1.3. As a result

of this regularity, the class of voiceless aspirated stops is described

within the generative phonological framework with the maximum economy

and generality, as each change affects one and only one feature in one

natural class, and every mutation affects the class,

1.4 Aspirate Mutation. In Standard Welsh, the aspirate mutation is not

commonly considered to be a part of the consonant mutation system, as

it does not affect consonants. Under the conditions of aspirate mutation,

an initial vowel undergoes preaspiration. In the generative framework,

the only way to describe such a phenomenon as preaspiration of an initial

vowel is to posit a rule whereby the glottal fricative /h/ is inserted in

initial position, as follows

-j ns

Although not in Standard Welsh, as Fynes-Clinton (1913,xviii)

points out, the aspirate mutation does in fact affect /a/, /y/, and

/w/ in the Bangor dialect.7 The extension of aspirate mutation to

consonants is treated further in Chapter 7.

1.5 Functionality and Redundancy. As stated in section 1.0, the

mutation system of Modern Welsh corresponds roughly to an inflectional

system in such languages as Latin. As is true with many inflectional

systems, such as that of Latin, the elements of the system can reflect

various degrees of functionality and various degrees of redundancy.

The functionality of the soft mutation rules may sometimes be of

a relatively low degree. For instance, a sentence may be preceded by a

sentence marker fe /ve/ or mi /mi/ (the choice being largely determined

by dialect). When this happens, the initial segment of the following

verb undergoes soft mutation. Thus, a sentence such asagalodd ef dad

/gwelo6 ev dad/ 'he saw a father' may optionally be preceded by the

indicative sentence marker fe /ve/, in which case, through the soft

mutation rule 1.c, above, we obtain fe welodd ef dad /ve welo6 ef dad/.

The functionality of the rule in this case can only be considered

minimal, as the sentence conveys exactly the same meaning with or with-

out the addition of the fe /ve/ and its subsequent triggering of the

soft mutation rule.

On the other hand, the functionality of the soft mutation may be

of a relatively high degree. For example, a noun which is the direct

object of an inflected verb undergoes the soft mutation of its initial

consonant. In the sentence gwelodd ef dad /gwelo6 ev dad/, introduced

above, the initial segment of dad /dad/ is derived by way of the soft

mutation rule 1,.,a from underlying ItI in tad /tad/ 'father'. Thus,

in this sentence the soft mutation functions to designate the direct


As far as redundancy is concerned, in the sentence gwelodd ef dad,

there is a high degree of redundancy in the soft mutation form of the

initial segment in dad /dad/. The information that dad /dad/ is the

direct object of the inflected verb is not only conveyed by the soft

mutation form, but it is also conveyed by the position of the word in

the sentence. On the other hand, if we were to delete the redundant ef

/ev/ (redundant because of the third person singular ending on the verb),

we would be left with the sentence gwelodd dad /gwelo6 dad/. In this

latter sentence, the soft mutation of the initial segment in dad.,/dad/

is the only indication that the noun is the direct object of the inflected

verb ('he saw a father') rather than the subject of the verb ('a father

saw (something)'). Thus, in this latter sentence, the functionality is

of a high degree.

Moreover, the third person singular possessive pronouns for masculine

and for feminine gender are identical in phonological shape. The only

way that the speaker has to tell them apart (other things being equal) is

by the fact that the masculine gender governs the soft mutation in such

instances and the feminine gender governs the spirant mutation. For

example, ei dad /it dad/ means 'his father', and ei thad /it 8ad/ means

'her father'.

Usually, the mutation forms are redundant to some degree, Because

not all segments undergo mutation rules (for example, /s/ takes no part

in any mutation), it would necessarily have to be the case that some

other grammatical means should also be able to convey the information

conveyed by mutation. For example, the nasal mutation rules are

motivated by the first person singular possessive pronoun. Thus, f

nhad /ve nhad/ 'my father' is derived by rule 1.2.a (1.2.c) above. The

same graamatical information (that is, first person singular possessive)

conveyed by the nasal mutation of the initial segment is also conveyed

by the pronoun itself. Now in this case, the pronoun may be deleted,

reducing the redundancy of the nasal mutation form. However, when the

possessed word does not begin with a segment that undergoes nasal muta-

tion, the pronoun cannot be deleted without the loss of meaning (other

things being equal). For example, in f nan /ve man/ 'my mother', the

initial segment of the noun does not undergo nasal mutation. Thus, the

pronoun cannot be deleted without losing the information of the first

person singular possessive.

In the case of the third person singular possessive pronouns,

where both masculine and feminine have the same phonological shape and

differ only in their mutations, there are other ways of telling the two

pronouns apart when the initial segment of the possessed noun does not

undergo either soft or spirant mutation. For example, the noun chwaer

/xwasir/ 'sister' does not undergo any mutation. When this word is

possessed by either the third person singular possessive masculine or

feminine pronoun, a form of the pronoun follows, as in ei chwaer ef

/is xwas&r ev/ 'his sister' and ei chwaer hi /it xwaitr his/ 'her sister'.

1,6 The Phonology of Mutation. There are two sides to the notion of

the Welsh mutation system--a phonological side and a grammatical side.

In this chapter, we are only concerned with the phonological considera-

tions inherent in the mutation system.

Phonology, in the generative use of the term, is systematic

(morphophonological in the Prague sense). By systematic, I mean that

the surface phonological segment (or string of segments) is related in

a manner making the fullest possible use of generalization to an under-

lying segment (or string of segments). Moreover, the manner in which

the two levels are related is a dynamic one. That is, processes actively

transform the underlying segmaet into a surface phonological segment.

As we review the mutation rules offered in this chapter, we should

be able to see that these rules fulfill the notions of systematicity

and dynamism (through process). The surface phonological forms are

derived from the underlying segments by processes of lenition (realized

through various other processes), nasalization, and frication. These

active processes are expressed in terms of phonetic feature changes.

In order to maintain the highest degree of systematicity, it is

necessary to strive toward the greatest amount of generalization in the

phonological rules consistent with the organization of the phonological

system. Herein lies a danger, if we restrict our view only to the

phonological side without giving due consideration to the grammatical

side of the mutation system.

It is apparent that the process of frication is noted not once

but twice in the rules--once in rule 1.1.b and once in rule 1.3. At

first glance, it would appear that rule 1.1.b and rule 1,3 should some-

how be collapsed into a single rule in order to reflect the fact that

they represent a single dynamic process. If we restrict our view to

the phonological considerations of the system, such a notion that the

rule 1.1.b in fact represents spirant mutation (becuase of the frication

process) might appear to be justified.

To combine rules 1.1,b and 1.3 into a single rule, however, would

be ignoring the second half of the mutation system, the grammatical

considerations. As the soft mutation has one set of grammatical contexts

and tne spirant mutation has a completely different set (as I show in

Chapter 2), the two rules cannot be combined without creating a rule of

such complexity as to make it unworkable. Moreover, as I demonstrate in

section 6.1, the frication process in rule 1.1.b is actually just a

notational device through which lenition can be realized. As stated in

section 1.1, the soft mutation is a process of lenition that cannot

be rendered in one single rule in binary features; rather, it must be

rendered through a combination of other, binary features due to the

demands placed upon generative phonology. Thus, the frication in rule

1.l.b is just a means to another, more general process, while the frica-

tion in rule 1.3 is the ultimate process involved.


1The terminology used with respect to the mutation system is the
traditional terminology used in the field of Welsh linguistics (see,
for example, Morris Jones 1913; Jackson 1953; Watkins 1961; etc.).
I maintain the traditional terminology in this study because it is
clear to those working within the field, and I believe that the creation
of new terms for the mutation system would serve no useful purpose. Of
course, in the final analysis, the precise term used is only a con-
venient device for designating a linguistic relationship.

2This practice of using three distinct categories of segment
from the underlying to the phonetic segment is established in Schane
1973. As mentioned in section 6.2, this practice is at variance:with
the system used in Chomsky and Halle 1968 as well as in most other
generative theoretical works. According to the system of Schane 1973,
the underlying segment (representation) becomes a phonological segment
through the application of systematic phonemic rules (or morphophono-
logical rules). The phonological segment created by these systematic
phonemic rules then becomes a phonetic segment through the application
of systematic phonetic rules (or allophonic rules). Thus, the t of
tad /tad/ 'father' becomes /d/ through the application of a systematic
phonemic mutation rule, while the /g/ of ysgol /sgol/ 'school' becomes
L1 (the voiceless unaspirated dorso-velar stop) through the applica-
tion of a systematic phonetic rule. The systematic phonetic relation-
ships are dealt with in greater detail in Chapter 7.

3The initial ph /f/ in the standard orthography is reserved for
the spirant mutation of p /p/ only. Elsewhere the sound is rendered
in the orthography by the letter ff. Thus, the reader, when confronted
with an initial ph spelled in a word should have some indication that
the word is in the environment of the spirant mutation.

4Note that this is the phonological position of articulation,
not the precise phonetic point of articulation. The fact that the
labial stops are bilabial and not labio-dental while the labial frica-
tives are labio-dental and not bilabial indicates that the two points
of articulation are in complementary distribution. Thus, in the phono-
logy, we consider this to be only one position of articulation.

5I am assuming implicitly a set of redundancy rules based upon
the specifications in Table 1.O.c. These redundancy rules apply with
each phonological rule. Thus, for example, if a segment is specified
[+continuantj, it need not be specified [-nasal] as in the Welsh
phonological system, there are no segments which would be both
continuantt] and [+nasal] (no nasal fricatives).


6This is shown in the example of phen /fen/ in note 3, above.

?According to Mr. Hugh Jones of Bettws Garmon, Gwynedd, the
extension of aspirate mutation is found in other districts in North
Wales as well.


2.0 Grammatical Motivation for Mutation. As stated in section 1.6,

there are two sides to the mutation system--the phonological side and

the grammatical side. In treating the latter side of mutation, it is

necessary to consider the nature of generative phonology as a struc-

turally based method.

In saying that generative phonology is a structurally based system,

I mean that the motivation for the application of any phonological rule

is based upon notions of structural relationships. These structural

relationships are of two types: paradigmatic and syntagmatic (compare

de Saussure 1959). The paradigmatic relationship in the mutation

system is the various phonological feature changes described in the rules

in Chapter 1. These changes in effect reflect the alternation of par-

ticular segments.

For example, the lexical item tad Itad) 'father' can undergo rule

1.1.a in order for dad /dad/ to be derived, or it can undergo rule

1.2.a (1.2.c) in order for nhad /nhad/ to be derived, or it can undergo

rule 1.3 in order for thad /gad/ to be derived. Of course, it may not

undergo any of these rules, in which case tad /tad/ will be derived.

Now the segments /t/, /d, /nh/, and /I/ alternate with one another in

what is known as a paradigmatic relationship. As shown below, however,

it is not a simple paradigmatic relationship.

A paradigmatic relationship does not exist in a vaccumt it has a

particular context, or environment. If the environment remains constant,

then what we have in the environment is a syntagmatic relationship, or

syntaga. For example, we can change the initial consonant of the word

te /te/ 'tea' such that it acquires voice and loses aspiration. The

resulting word is de /de/ 'south', which we recognize as a wotd with a

different meaning from the word te /te/. On the other hand, we could

shift the position of articulation of the initial consonant of te /te/

from apico-dental to bilabial, in which case we would have the word

pe /pe/ 'if', which we also recognize as a word with a meaning quite
different from te /te/. In these cases, only one consonant has been

changed, and the consonants involved are in a paradigmatic relationship,

The environment of this paradigm, however, has remained constant, -e /e/.

This environment is a syntagm. The only things that have changed in

this exercise are the phonological segments in initial position and the

meaning of the resulting words. The phonological syntagm has not changed.

The Welsh mutation system, however, represents a far more complex

set of relationships. When an initial segment of a word changes due to

mutation, the environment of the word itself forms the syntagm. But

the phonological word is usually the highest point in the grammar at

which we can talk of a syntagm for phonological items without intro-

ducing grammatical relations. The reason why we cannot include the other

words to which the mutated word relates in the syntaga is that the

grammatical relationships that obtain between the affected word and the

other words of the phrase or clause also change in the course of mutation.

This notion of a syntagm within a grammatically well-formed string

of words is crucial to the operation of the mutation system. This can be

illustrated with the above-mentioned minimal pairs, te /te/ and de /de/.

A speaker could utter the sentence ble mae'r te? /ble aasar te/ 'where

is the tea?' By changing the initial consonant of te /te/ so that it

is voiced and unaspirated, the sentence becomes ble sae'r de /ble maoir de/

'where is the south?' Of course, the sentences represent quite different

meanings semantically, but the grammatical relationships that hold

between the rest of the clause and te /te/ in the first sentence and

de /de/ in the second sentence are identical. Thus, in this simple case

of paradigmatic and syntagmatic relationships, the entire sentence

can act as the syntagm.

On the other hand, when a grammatical paradigm in which /t/ and /d/

alternate in the mutation system is set into a grammatically well-formed

string of words, the result is quite different. To illustrate this, I

use the example from section 1.5. In the sentence gwelodd tad /gwelo6

tad/ 'a father saw (something)', the word tad /tad/ is the subject of

the sentence. Now if we were to apply rule 1.1.a in order to derive

the form dad /dad/, as we have done above, the result would be gwelodd

dad/ 'he saw a father', in which the word dad /dad/ is the direct object

of the verb. Thus, the application of the mutation rules does not

change the lexical meaning of the word, but it does reflect a change in

grammatical relationships.

Because the change in the phonological paradigm in the mutation

system actually reflects a change in the grammatical relationships, we

do not have a simple set of paradigmatic relationships existing among

phonological items. Instead, we have two paradigms which are complexly

interrelated--a phonological paradigm and a grammatical paradigm.

In the transformational-generative mode of description, the

syntactic component precedes the phonologicalcomponent (see Chomsky 1965;

Chomsky and Halle 1968). Thus, the grammatical relationships are

derived (transformationally) before the phonological rules are applied.

In the dynamic and directional process of derivation, then, the particular

item in the grammatical paradigm is established and presented to the

(interpretive) phonological component. Because a particular grammatical

relationship is presented to the phonological component, we apply a

particular phonological mutation rule--the rule which corresponds to

the grammatical relationship. It can be said, then, that these gram-

matical relationships form the motivating environment of the mutation

rules of Chapter 1.

There are several pertinent considerations in the environment of

the mutation rules. First of all, the segment to be affected must be

in the proper position in the word--usually initial position. Further-

more, the grammatical environment pertinent to the application of the

rule must be present. The grammatical environment consists of two

factors. The first of these is the morphological factor. The word

must be of a particular class (noun, verb, etc.) and a particular gender

and number. The second factor is the syntactic relationships into which

the word enters (subject, object, possessed, etc.).

Once all of the pertinent considerations for the application of

the mutation rules are met, we can say that the motivation of the

application of the rule lies in the environment. If the environment

is appropriate and the segment in question is indeed covered by the

given mutation rule, then this rule must apply. If, however, any single

factor is absent, then the mutation rule cannot apply. Thus, each factor

is necessary for mutation to apply, but only the sum of all the factors is

sufficient for mutation to apply.

The particular grammatical factors involved in mutation vary from

dialect to dialect. As can be seen in Griffen 1974b, even the phono-

logical factors tend to be dependent upon dialect. In Standard Welsh,

however, they are fairly consistent. A complete description of them can

be found in Morgan 1952 along with perUnent exceptions (counter-examples

in the sense of Hjelmslev 1970:30-1) and the historical development

of various forms in Modern Welsh. Short but usually adequate summations

are often given in textbooks (such as Bowen and Rhys Jones 1960; James

19661 etc.).

In the following sections, I describe the grammatical environments

of the various mutation rules. This is only intended to be a short

summation in generative terminology. I use the classifications and order

of James (96641-3)because of its accessibility, organization, and


2.1 Environment I. Before treating those environments in which a

mutation rule does apply, I should first clarify what takes place when

the environment of a word does not in fact satisfy the conditions of

the mutation rules. When the environment does not meet any of the

mutation rules, the underlying segment (the radical) is realized as

the phonological segment. Whenever the environment does not specify

the application of any mutation, it is termed environment I. To specify

the exact description of environment I, as well as the exact description

of environments which cause the mutation rules to apply, would be very

redundant in the description (compare the practice of Gleason 1961:


For example, the personal possessive pronouns motivate the environment

for all mutations in the system. The first person singular possessive

pronoun motivates the nasal mutation, the second person singular

motivates the soft mutation, the third person masculinealso motivates

the soft mutation, the third person feminine motivates the spirant

mutation and aspirate mutation, and the first and third person plural

motivate the aspirate mutation. Now as it happens, the second person

plural possessive pronoun has not been specified as being a motivating

factor for any of the mutation rules. By its complementary nature,

we can therefore assume that environment I obtains and that none of the

mutations apply. Thus, the radical is derived as the phonological seg-

ment, with no feature changes, So eich tad /eix tad/ 'your (plural)

father' does not reflect the application of any mutation rule.

This notion of environment I may appear to be fairly uninteresting

at this point, but it proves to be quite crucial. The point that must

be remembered is that when no mutation environment exists, the radical

is realized. Moreover, this radical, as shown in section 1.0, is to be

taken as the underlying form, the segment from which all of the mutation

forms are derived.

At first glance, there does appear to be a complication in our

handling of the radical as the underlying segment and of environme4tI

as the general environment. This complication centers around the

notion of 'hard mutation' (see Watkins 196166-7). According to the

traditional analysis of the system, hard mutation affects adjectives in

such a way that an adjective ending in a voiced unaspirated stop

'hardens' the stop to a voiceless aspirated one when an ending (equative,

comparative, or superlative) is added.

Hard mutation appears to have all of the elements of a normal

consonant mutation--a particular phonological class mediaa) and

grammatical considerations (the class of adjectives and particular

endings). For example, the adjective teg /teg/ 'fair' is realized as

teced /teked/ in the equative, tecach /tekax/ in the comparative, and

tecaf /tekav/ in the superlative. Likewise, tlawd /tlaud/ 'poor' is

realized as tloted /tloted/ in the equative, tlotach /tlotax/ in the

comparative, and tlotaf /tlotav/ in the superlative. Moreover, gwlyb

/gwlb/ 'wet' is realized as gwlyped /gwleped/ in the equative, gwlypach

/gwlepax/ in the comparative, and gwlypaf /gwlepav/ in the superlative.1

Thus, the entire natural class of voiced unaspirated tops is affected.

If we were to accept the traditional notion of hard mutation,

then we would have to state that in this one case environment I motivates

the application of a rule by which the underlying voiced unaspirated

stops become realized as voiceless and aspirated. For several reasons,

however, I do notaccept the traditional notion of hard mutation. First

of all, while the soft mutation is quite extensive in its range of

application, the hard mutation is restricted to this one type of instance.

by treating the voiceless aspirated stop as underlying and extending

the environment of the soft mutation rules to include segments in final

position at least in adjectives, we could simplify the system of rules

and simplify our description. Furthermore, as I show in section

5.1, there has been a general historical development whereby the final
stop in the Welsh word has become voiced and unaspirated (although, t6

be sure, voicing in final position is not frequent in languages). Taking

this development into account, the soft mutation would normally apply

to the final position, anyway, making the application of the soft muta-

tion rule 1.1.a in this case simply a reflection of a much larger

phenomenon. This analysis does not reflect a grammatical environment,

and this problem is also discussed in section 5.1.

One argument that could be used for the traditional interpretation

of the hard mutation is the fact that in Middle Welsh, an /h/ sometimes

preceded the adjective ending (see Evans 1960t23-4). This /h/, however,

is no longer productive. Although it is an important consideration in

an earlier phonology of Welsh, it is not pertinent to Modern Welsh--

especially not in a synchronic description of Modern Welsh. I return

to this relationship between /h/ and the stops in Chapter 7.

2.2 Environment II, Listed below are the structural descriptions of

most environments which, in Standard Welsh, are sufficient for the

application of the soft mutation rules. Unless otherwise stated, it

is understood that the segment in the critical position for mutation is

in fact any one of the affectable segments listed in section 1.1. For

each structural description, I first discuss the necessary elements

and then form these into the generative model (see, for example, Chomsky

19651 Jacobs and Rosenbaum 1968; R.M. Jones 1963). All descriptions

are based upon James (1966s41-3), and full descriptions are found in

Morgan 1952. Because of the large number of environments found in

environment II, it is usually necessary to list first those which affect

nouns (environments IIa-m), then those which affect adjectives (environ-

ments IIn-s), those which affect verbs (environments IIt-z), and finally

that which affects adverbs (environment IIaa). In any case, the word

affected by soft mutation is marked in the formal structural description

t*th the notation [+LM] (for lenis mutation).

a. Welsh has only one article--the definite article. This is

realized as y /a/ before words beginning with consonants, yr /er/

before words beginning with vowels (including the case in which 1 g is

deleted through soft mutation), and 'r /r/ after words ending in a

vowel (regardless of the following word). When any one of these forms

of the definite article precedes a noun which is both feminine in

gender and singular in number, the initial consonant of the noun is in

environment II. However, the environment IIa is only operative for the

mutation rules 1.1.a---rule 1.1.e (11 /1/ and rh /w/) does not apply

in this environment. For example, dafad /davad/ 'sheep' is a singular

feminine noun. When preceded by the definite article y /a/ the noun

phrase is realized as y ddafad /a 6avad/ 'the sheep'. The rule does

not apply, however in the case of llaw /lau/ 'hand', which is realized

SI aw /s lau/ 'the hand'.

The formal structural description for environment IIa can be

rendered as follows:


+LM 1
Lrule 1.1,e_

b. The second person singular familiar possessive pronoun is

realized as _d /de/ 'thy' or as 'th /9/ when it is contracted onto the

preceding word ending in a vowel (the actual words with which the

pronouns can be contracted are fairly restricted in number). The third

person singular masculine possessive pronoun is realized as ei /iI/

'his' or as the contracted forms 'i /i/ or 'w /u/ (the latter when the

preceding word ends in /i/ or /&/). These pronouns always precede

a verb-noun,2 which in this case operates in the mutation system as a

noun, as the direct object of the verb-noun. The noun or verb-noun is

thus in environment IIb, and the initial consonant undergoes any applic-

able soft mutation rule. For example, tad /tad/ 'father' can be realized

as dy dad /de dad/ 'thy father' or ei dad /it dad/ 'his father'. The

periphrasic verbal phrasefor 'I see him' would be wyf I fn ei weld

/uiv i en is weld/ with the verb-noun derived from gwld /gweld/ 'to


The formal structural descriptionfor environment IIb can be

rendered as follows


possessive [+LM]
S-feminine ,

c, Twelve of the more common prepositions are am /am/ 'for', ar

/ar/ 'on', at lat/ 'to', gan /gan/'with', tros /tros/ 'over', trw

/truti/ 'through', worth /urI/ 'at', dan /dan/ 'under', heb /heb/
'without', hyd /hid/ 'till', i /i 'to', and o /o/ 'from'. These

constitute an element of environment IIc. If a noun follows any one of

these, the initial consonant of the noun will undergo soft mutation.

This group of prepositions, moreover, with two exceptions represents

the class of prepositions which are conjugated.3 For example, the

preposition ar /ar/ can precede the noun cae /cas&/ 'field' for the

prepositional phrase ar gae /ar gai&/ 'on a field'.

By marking the exceptions in the lexicon, we can render the above

environment as follows t


[+conjugatable] [+LM]

d. A noun phrase can be constructed with a numeral and a noun,
The noun in this case is always singular. The noun is in environment
IId, if the numeral is un /An/ 'one' (which precedes both masculine and
feminine words) and the noun is feminine in gender or the numeral is
either dau /da&/ 'two (masculine)' or dwy /duti/ 'two (feminine)'.
For example, merch /merx/ 'girl' is feminine. 'One girl' would be
un ferx /Ln verx/, and 'two girls' would be dwy ferch /dusi verx/.
The formal structural description for environment IId can be
rendered as follows


One E+LM]
t[ Two )

e. Usually, an adjective follows the noun it modifies. Some
adjectives, however, regularly precede the noun, and for special
emphasis any adjective can precede the noun it modifies. When an
adjective does precede the noun, the noun is in environment IIe, and
the initial segment is subject to soft mutation. For example, dyn
/din/ 'man' usually follows the adjective hen /hen/ 'old', resulting
in hen ddyn /hen 6in/ 'old man'. Compare mab unig /mab inig/ 'lonely
son (mab)' with unig fab /Lnig vab/ 'only son'.
The formal structural description for environment IIe can be
rendered as follows



f. A predicate noun in Welsh always follows the predicator n

/an/. When this occurs, the noun (but not a verb-noun) is in environ-

ment IIf, and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. For

example, Cypro /kemro/ 'Welshman' undergoes rule 1.1.a in the sentence

mae ef yn G~ ro /masl ev n gemro/ 'he is a Welshman'. As in environment

IIa, environment IIf does not effect rule 1.1.e.

The formal structural description for environment IIf can be

rendered as follows



[rule 1.1.e]

g. In Welsh, either an inflected form of the verb may be used or

a periphrastic verbal phrase (verb 'to be' + predicator + verb-noun).

When the inflected form of the verb is used, any noun which serves as

direct object to the verb is in the environment IIg, and its initial

consonant undergoes soft mutation. For example, wyf I y gweld dyn

/ustI i en gweld din/ 'I am seeing a man (djy)' can be rendered with an

inflected verb form as gwelaf ddyn /gwelav 6 n/.

The formal structural description for environment IIg can be

rendered as follows:



This notation is in accord with R.M. Jones 1963. The second

noun phrase in this system is the direct object.

h. Normally, the noun subject follows the verb 'to be' in a

periphrastic verbal construction or with an inflected verb, and the noun

object follows the verb-noun in a periphrastic verbal construction (see

the previous section). Whenever this pattern is interrupted by an

adverbial element (for example, a sentential adverb or prepositional

phrase), the noun affected is in environment IIh, and its initial con-

sonant undergoes soft mutation. For example, the sentence 'there were

people (pobl) there (no) on vacation' can be rendered without interrup-

tion as oedd pobl n gwylio yno /osL6 pobl an gusilio eno/ or with

interruption oedd yno bobl yn gwylio /osa6 eno bobl en gustlio/.

The formal structural description for environment IIh can be

rendered as follows i



In the case of periphrastic verbal constructions (for example, oedd

no bobl y dawnsio /oe6 eno bobl en daunsio/ 'there were people there

dancing'), following R.M. Jones 1963, the following structural descrip-

tion, derived from a transformation, would apply

r Bod a [+L] L [+L
[TO bej

1. When a title or a term in apposition follows a noun, the title

is in environment IIi, and the initial consonant undergoes soft mutation.

For example, in the phrase Llewelyn Frenin /leuelLn vrenin/ 'Llewelyn

the King', brenin /brenin/ 'king' undergoes soft mutation because it

is used as a title. In the phrase Llewelyn Fawr /leuelin vaur/

'Llewelyn the Great', mawr /maur/ undergoes soft mutation even though

it is an adjective normally, because it is functioning as a noun in

apposition in this phrase. (Compare Llewelyn mawr /euelLn maur/

'great Llewelyn', in which it is used as an adjective.)

The formal structural description for environment IIi can be

rendered as follows



j. The vocative in Welsh is marked such that a noun used in a

greeting is in environment IIj, and its initial consonant undergoes

soft mutation. For example, the greeting '0 God' is rendered as 0

Dduw /I 6iu/, a soft mutation form of Duw /diu/ 'God'.

The formal structural description for environment IIj can be

rendered as follows


evocative ]

k. Compound words are often formed by joining two nouns into a

single noun. When this is done, the second noun-morpheme is in environ-

ment IIk, and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. (Compare

this with environment IIi, above.) For example, the noun gwaith /gwaiQ/

'work' joins with the noun t /tit/ 'house' in order to produce the

noun gweithdy /gweiQdi/ 'workshop'.

The formal structural description for environment IIk can be

rendered as follows


1. When the conjunction neu /neL/ 'or' joins two nouns, the noun

following the conjunction is in environment II, and its initial con-

sonant undergoes soft mutation. For example, bachgen /baxgen/ 'boy'

and merch /merx/ 'girl' can be joined as bachgen neu ferch /baxgen noi

verx/ 'a boy or a girl'.

The formal structural description for environment III can be

rendered as follows


[Neul] [C+M]

a. In Welsh, there are a number of deictic words which function

as nonconjugatable verbs. The most common of these are dy /dema/

'here is', dyna /dena/ 'there is', and dacw /daku/ 'yonder is'. They

can be used either in the singular or in the plural. When one of these

deictic verbal is used, the noun to which it refers is in the environ-

ment IIm, and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. For example,

long /log/ 'ship' can be the object of dacw /daku/ to yield the sen-

tence daew long /daku log/ 'yonder is a ship'.

The formal structural description for environment IIm can be

rendered as follows


[4deictic] [+LM]

n. As stated in reference to environment IIe, the adjective

usually follows the noun it modifies. If the noun is both feminine

in gender and singular in number, then the adjective following the

noun is in the environment IIn, and its initial consonant undergoes

soft mutation., For example, when da /da/ 'good' follows bchgen /baxgen/

'boy' the result is bachgen da /baxgen da/ 'a good boy', but when it

follows merch /merx/ 'girl' the result is merch dda /merx 6a/ 'a good


The formal structural descriptionfor environment IIn can be

rendered as follows


+ingular [+LM]

o. An adjective can be used as an adverb by placing it after the

predicative yn /on/. When this is done, the adjective is in the environ-

ment IIo, and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. For example,

the adjective da /da/ means 'good', but the phrase y dda /on 6a/

means 'well'.

The formal structural description for environment IIo can be

rendered as follows



p. The comparison of adjectives in the equative (as.,.as) is

accomplished in Welsh by placing mor /mor/ before the adjective and

I /a / after it or by placing cy /kin/ before the adjective and a

/a,/ after it. The adjective following either mor /mor/ or yn /kin/

is in the environment IIp, and its initial consonant undergoes soft

mutation. The comparison of adjectives in the comparative, moreover,

is accomplished by placing y /on/ before the adjective and na /na/

after it. The adjective following y /on/ is also in environment IIp,

and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. For example, gwyn

/gwAi/ 'white' undergoes rule 1.1.c in the phrase nor gyn a'r eira

/mor win air eira/.'as white as snow'. However, when the adjective is

preceded by cyn, rule 1.1.e (1 /1/ and rh /i/) is not effected.

The formal structural description for environment lip can be

rendered as follows


Yn LM a
{Nor 2w -rule el..> I 4a

The angled brackets (< >)can be read 'only if cyn /kin/ is used, the

rule will not effect rule 1.1.e'.

q. There are certain adverbs that often precede and modify adjec-

tives. These include rhy /wA/ 'too', pur /pr/ 'pure', lied /ed/

'almost', gweddol /gwe6ol/ 'fairly', go /go/ 'quite', and hollol

/holol/ 'completely'. Whenever one of these adverbs precedes an adjec-

tive, the adjective is in environment IIq, and its initial consonant

undergoes soft mutation. For example, tenau /tenaL/ 'thin' can be

preceded by rhy //, and the resulting phrase is ry denau /ap denai/

'too thin'.
These adverbs can be marked in the lexicon, and the formal struc-

tural description for environment IIq rendered as follows:



r. As we see in environment IIg, when a noun is the direct object

of an inflected verb, its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation.
If an adjective precedes the noun, it is in environment IIr, and its

initial consonant undergoes soft mutation.5 For example, the periphras-

tic construction wyf i wedi clywed rhyw fr /uriv i wedi klLued i&u
usr/ 'I heard some (rhyw) man' can be rendered with the inflected verb

as clywais yw r /kliuais rLu u:r/.

The formal structural description for environment IIr can be

rendered as follows



s. In environment III, we see that when two nouns are conjoined

by neu /nea/ 'or', the noun following the conjunction is in environ-

ment III. When two adjectives are conjoined by neu /neL/, the second

adjective is in environment IIs, and its initial consonant undergoes

soft mutation. For example, when gwyn /gwtn/ 'white' is conjoined with

du /dL/ 'black' by neu /net/, the result is gwn neuddu /gwLn nei 6L/

'white or black'.

The formal structural description for environment IIs can be

rendered as follows


[Neu] C+L]

t. When the inflected form of the verb is used in a relative

clause, the relative pronoun (either subject or object) is realized

as a /a/ in the affirmative and na /na/ in the negative. The inflected

form of the verb must follow the relative pronoun, and the verb is in

the environment IIt, its initial consonant undergoing soft mutation,

For example, we find the phrase y bachgen na welodd y fair /a baxgen

na wele6 e fair/ 'the boy who did not see (gwelodd) the fair'. When

na /na/, the negative relative pronoun, is used, this rule does not

effect rule .1.1a (p /p/, t /t/, c /k/) (see environment IVf).

The formal structural description for environment lit can be

rendered as follows a



<+negative> +LM
<-rule 1.1.a>

u. The conjunction pan /pan/ 'when' always precedes the verb.

When it is used, the verb following pan /pan/ is in the environment

IIu, and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. For example,

there is a phrase pan ddeuthum /pan 69eLAm/ 'when I cane(deuthum)'.

The formal structural description for environment IIu can be

rendered as follows


[Pan] [+Lm]

v. There are several sentential affirmative particles that may

optionally introduce the sentence. These precede the verb and include

fe /ve/, mi /mi/, and t /ti/. When these are used, the verb is in

environment IIv, and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation.

For example, the sentence cefais i afal /kevais i aval/ 'I got an apple'

can alternatively be realized as fe gefais i afal /ve gevais i aval/.

The formal structural description for environment IIv can be

rendered as follows



w. The usual way of asking a question is by placing the inter-
rogative a /a/ in front of the sentence, In this position, it precedes
the verb, which is in environment IIw, and the initial consonant of the
verb undergoes soft mutation. For example, the sentence llwyddodd ef
/Aus6o6 ev/ 'he succeeded' can be turned into a question with a /a/,
a lwyddodd ef? /a luia6o6 ev/ 'did he succeed?' The environment IIw
is not sufficient to effect rule 1..ia (p /p/, t /t/, c /k/).
The formal structural description for environment IIw can be
rendered as follows

A] -rule .1.aj

x. Sentences are rendered in the negative by placing a negative
word at the beginning of the sentence, such as ni /ni/, na /na/, and
oni /oni/ (negative interrogative). The verb which follows such a
negative is in environment IIx, and its initial consonant undergoes
soft mutation. For example, daeth y bws /date& a bus/ 'the bus ciae' is
negated as ni ddaeth y bws /ni 6as&Q a bus/ 'the bus did not come'.
Eironment IIx is not sufficient to effect rule 11.a (z( /p/, t /t/,
c /k/) (see environment IVd).

The formal structural description for environment IIx can be

rendered as follows



-rule 1.a

y. An indirect question is introduced by the particle a /a/.

The verb form following the particle is in environment IIy, and its

initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. For example, we find the

sentence gofy a gyrhaeddodd hi /govtn a gerhaiS6o6 hi/ 'he asks whether

she has arrived (cyrhaeddodd).

The formal structural description for environment IIy can be

rendered as follows:



[+interrogativel [A] [+LM]

z. The contracted form of the possessive pronoun can be infixed

between the affirmative sentential particle (see environment IIv) and

the verb. As such, it functions as the pronominal direct object. When

this pronoun is that of the second person singular (familiar), the following

form of the verb is in environment IIz, and its initial consonant under-

goes soft mutation. For example, there is the sentence fe'th welais

/veQ welais/ 'I saw (gwelais) thee'.

The formal structural description for environment IIz can be

rendered as follows


risingularl [+LM]
S+second J

aa. Any sentential adverb or adverbial phrase is in environment

IIaa, and its initial consonant undergoes soft mutation. This applies

no matter where in the sentence it may appear. For example, we have

the sentence gwelais ef ddoe /gwelais ev 6oiL/ 'I saw him yesterday


The formal structural description for environment IIaa can be

rendered as follows



2.3 Environment III, The following is a list of the structural descrip-

tions of most environments which are sufficient for the application of

the nasal mutation rules in Standard Welsh. As with the soft mutation,

I adhere to the list and order found in James(1966141-3), the full

descriptions for which are found in Morgan 1952. The word affected by

nasal mutation is marked in the formal structural description with the

notation [+NM],

a, The first person singular possessive pronoun in Standard Welsh

is _f /v9/ 'my'.6 The noun which follows this pronoun is in the environ-

ment IIIa, and its initial consonant undergoes nasal mutation. For

example, cartref /kartrev/ 'home' when possessed by the first person

singular pronoun is realized as fy nghartref /ve ghartrev/ 'my home'.
The formal structural description for environment IIIa can be

rendered as follows


Rpossessivel [WM]
+first J

As in environment IIb, the pronoun can also precede the verb-noun in

the periphrastic verbal construction, as in the sentence mae ef yn y

ngwrld /main ev en vs wweld/ 'he sees (gweld) me'. In this case, the
first person singular possessive pronoun functions as the direct object,

b. In Standard Welsh,there is a preposition y /en/ 'in'. When

this preposition precedes a noun, the noun is in environment IIIb, and

its initial consonant undergoes nasal mutation. For example, 'Wales'

is Cyaru /kemrL/, but 'in Wales' is yg Nghyaru /e~ gheamr/. As can be
0 0
seen from this example, the preposition is actually /eN/, where /N/ is

an archiphoneme in which position of articulation is predictable and

takes on the value of the following consonant or /n/ (see Griffen 1974a).

The formal structural description for environment IIIb can be

rendered as follows:


[Yn] [eNM]

c. In reckoning time, there are three words of particular importance--

blwydd /blutL6/ 'year (of age)', blynedd /bleneb/ 'year', and diwrnod

/diurnod/ 'day', As stated in section 2.2.d, when a noun follows a numeral

it is realized in the singular. When any of these three nouns follows

puI /pia/ 'five', saith /saig/ 'seven', wyth /ueO/ 'eight', naw /nau/

'nine', deg /deg/ 'ten', deuddeg /dei6eg/ 'twelve', pymtheg /pemQeg/

'fifteen', deunaw /deInau/ 'eighteen', ugain /gain/ 'twenty', or can

/kan/ 'hundred', it is in the environment IIc and its initial consonant

undergoes nasal mutation. For example, 'seven years' is saith mlynedd

/saie mlene6/, and 'eight days' is yth niwrnod /ui:& niurnod/.

The formal structural description for environment IIIc can be

rendered as follows


Pum Blwydd
Saith Blynedd
yth Diwrnod
Naw +NM

Those numbers not listed in the description either cause no mutation or

cause soft mutation environmentt lid) or spirant mutation (environment IVa).

d. There is a morpheme prefix yn- /an/, not to be confused with

the preposition of the same phonological shape, which has various

meanings depending upon the word to which it is prefixed. When the

prefix is unstressed, the word to which it is prefixed is in environment

IIId, and its initial consonant undergoes nasal mutation. Examples

are found in ynghylch /eOhtlx/ 'about' (from ly /on/ plus cylch /ktlx/
'circle'), qyhle /.ehle/ 'in what place' (from yn /en/ plus pie /ple/

'place'), and ynghyd /ephLd/ 'together' (from yn /on/ plus /kid/

The formal structural description for environment IId can be

rendered as follows


I Yn s [-wM]

2.4 Environment IV. Below are the structural descriptions of most

environments which are sufficient for the application of the spirant

mutation rule in Standard Welsh. Again, I adhere to the list and order

found in James (1966,41-3), the full descriptions for which are in

Morgan 1952. The word affected by spirant mutation is marked in the

formal structural description with the notation [+SM].

a. As in sections 2.2.d (environment lid) and 2.3.c (environment

IIIc), when a numeral precedes a noun, the noun is realized in the

singular. Now if the numeral preceding the noun is either tri /tri/

'three' or chwe /xwe/ 'six', then the noun following the numeral is in

environment IVa, and its initial consonant undergoes spirant mutation,

For example, when the word ceffyl /kef1/ 'horse' is preceded by chwe

/xwe/, the resulting phrase is chwe cheffyl /xwe xefil/ 'six horses'.

The formal structural description for environment IVa can be

rendered as follows


FTri [+SM]

b. The third person singular feminine possessive pronoun is ei

/I,/ 'her'. It can also be realized as the contracted forms 'i /i/

and 'w /u/, the latter when the preceding word ends in /i/ or /i/.

As in section 2.2.b (environment lib), the contracted forms, identical

with the masculine (as is the neutral form), can be added to the end

of a few words ending in vowels. When any form of the third person

singular feminine possessive pronoun precedes a noun, the noun is in

environment IVb, and its initial consonant undergoes spirant mutation,

As with all possessive pronouns, these can precede the verb-noun of a

periphrastic construction and operate as the direct object of the

verb-noun, in which case the verb-noun is also in environment IVb.

For example, pen /pen/ means 'head', and ei phen /is fen/ is 'her head'.

Likewise, we find the sentence wyf i wedi ei chlywed /usiv i wedi ii

xlAued/ 'I heard (clywed) her'.

The formal structural description for environment IVa can be

rendered as follows:


Fpossessiver [+M]

c. Three prepositions often found in Standard Welsh are I /a3/

'with', gyda /gada/ 'along with', and tua /tla/ 'towards', Whenever

one of these prepositions precedes a noun, the noun is in environment

IVc, and its initial consonant undergoes spirant mutation. For example,

we find the phrase gyda chyfeillion /geda xaveilion/ 'along with

friends (cyfeillion)'.

The formal structural description for environment IVc can be

rendered as follows


A [+M]

d. It was pointed out in section 2.2.x (environment IIx) that

sentences are negated by preceding them with negative markers including

ni /ni/, na /na/, and oni /oni/ (negative interrogative). Although

environment IIx does not affect the voiceless aspirated stops, environment

IVd does. Thus, the verb form following a negative in the sentence is

in the environment IVd, and its initial consonant undergoes spirant

mutation, For example, there is the question oni thalodd hi?/oni

Qalo6 hi/ 'did she not pay (talodd)?' I address the peculiarities of

the environments as regards environment II and environment IV in

section 2.6,

The formal structural description for environment IVd can be

rendered as follows a


e. As pointed out in section 2.2.q (environment IIq), some adverbs

marked in the lexicon cause a following modified adjective to undergo

soft mutation, In the case of tra /tra/ 'very', however, the following

adjective is in environment IVe, and its initial consonant undergoes

spirant mutation. For example, caredig /karedig/ 'dear' can be preceded

by tra /tra/ to yield the phrase tra charedig /tra xaredig/ 'very dear'.7
The formal structural description for environment IVe can be

rendered as follows


[Tra] [+SM]

f. The three most common sentence conjunctions are a /a/ 'and',

na /na/ 'nor', and oni /oni/ 'until' (not to be confused with the

negative interrogative). Any word following one of these conjunctions,

whether noun or verb, is in environment IVf, and its initial consonant

undergoes spirant mutation. For example, we find ci a chath /ci a xaQ/
'a dog and a cat (oath)', and oni chyrhaeddodd y trn /oni xerhasi6o6

9 treln/ 'until (unless) he caught (cyrhaeddodd) the train',

The formal structural description for environment IVf can be

rendered as follows

(A [C+M]
ANa t

g. As shown in section 2.2.t, the negative form of the relative

pronoun na /na/ is not sufficient to effect rule 1.1.a in environment

lit. However, when the negative relative pronoun precedes a form of

the verb, the verb is in environment IVg, and its initial consonant

undergoes spirant mutation. For example, there is the sentence dyma'r

gr na chafodd arian /damar guir na xavo6 arian/ 'here is the man who

did not get (cafodd) money'. As in section 2.4.d, I return to the

matter of the apparent conflict in environments in section 2.6.

The formal structural description for environment IVg can be

rendered as follows:



negativev] [C+M]

Before leaving the spirant mutation (environment IV), I should

like to address the matter brought out in section 1.6. Now that the

environments for the soft mutation and the spirant mutation have been

examined, it should be fairly obvious why we cannot combine the

Ibl /v/ and Idl /6/ rule (1.1.b) with rule 1.3, in spite of the

fact that /v/ and /6/ are, after all, spirants, or fricatives. If we

were to combine rules 1.1,b and 1.3, we would have to mark twenty-five

environments (considering that two overlap) so that part of the spirant

mutation rule could apply and part could not, and we would have to mark

five more environments so that the latter part could apply and the former

part could not. This would make it virtually impossible to combine the

two phonological rules.

2.5 Environment V. The final environment that concerns us is the

environment which motivates rule 1.4, the aspirate mutation. As

pointed out in section 1.4, the aspirate mutation is not exactly a

part of the consonant mutation system, as it does not affect consonants

(at least in Standard Welsh), though it does affect initial position.

Nonetheless, the same considerations affect the environment of aspirate

mutation as affect the environments of the various consonant mutations.

Although James 1966 does not list aspirate mutation among the

consonant mutations, Bowen and Rhys Jones (19601167) does list it,

and Morgan 1952 also treats it. The word affected by aspirate mutation

in the formal structural description is marked [+AM].

The one environment involved in aspirate mutation has to do with

the possessive pronouns. When the noun or the verb-noun (in the case of

periphrastic verbal constructions) follows the first person singular

possessive pronoun contraction 'm /m/ 'my', the third person singular

femiinie possessive pronoun ei /it/ or its contractions 'i /i/ or
'w /u/ 'her', the first person plural possessive pronoun ein /sin/

or its contraction 'n /n/ 'our', or the third person plural possessive

pronoun eu /oi/ or its contractions 'u /i/ or 'w /u/ 'their', then

the noun is in environment V, and its initial vowel undergoes aspirate

mutation. For example, 'name' is enw /enu/, and 'her name' is ei henw

/ii henu/.

The formal structural description for environment V can be

rendered as follows:


+possessive [+AM]
F +first 1
+third l
: +plural
L -second

2.6 Overlapping Environments. In section 2.2.t we find that the

negative relative pronoun is not sufficient to effect rule 1.1.a, and

in section 2.2.x we find that the same is true of all negative sentence

markers. By using notation, we can describe the phenomenon in which

rule 1.1,a is excluded from the environments while rules 1.1.b-e are


As we shift our attention to sections 2,4.d and 2.4.g, we wee that

the spirant mutation is effected in precisely those environments in

which the negative relative pronoun and negative sentence markers are

found. Thus, it would appear that environments lit and IIx overlap

with environments IVg and IVd. That is to say thatthe grammatical

specifications are identical.

The notational device which we can use in order to determine when

one mutation applies and when the other applies is known as rule

ordering. In the generative approach to grammar, the surface (real)

level is derived by rules from the deep (abstract) level. Each rule

application creates its own intermediate stage with its own item, upon

which further processes work in order to derive the ultimate surface

forms. These rules must, then, apply in a particular order, and the

order used is determined by the generality of one particular order over

another (for examples of such rule ordering, see S. Anderson 19691

Koutsoudas, Sanders, and Noll 1974).

If, once all environments are established, we order the soft

mutation rules first, then, in accordance with the [-rule 1.1.a]

notation in environments lit and IIx, we must make sure that the soft

mutation rule 1.1,a is not effected. So long as the voiceless aspirated

stops do not undergo rule 1.1.a in environments IIt or IIx, then they

will be present for the application of rule 1.3 in environments IVg or IVd.

On the other hand, if we were to order the spirant mutation rule

before the soft mutation rules, then the spirant mutation rule 1.3

would eliminate all occurrences of the voiceless aspirated sops in

environments IVg and IVd. Once the voiceless aspirated stops in environ-

ments IVg and IVd are eliminated, there is no reason for specifying in

the environments IIt and IIx that the soft mutation rule 1.1.a is not

effected, for there are no longer any segments which the rule can

affect. Thus, we can allow rule 1.1.a to apply, as it applies vacuously.

For example, we can consider the two sentences dyma'r dyn na

chlywais dearr din na xliuais/ 'here is the man whom I did not hear'

and dyma'r dyn na welais /demar din na welais/ 'here is the man whom I

did not see'. The verb in the first relative clause is clywais /kliwais/,

and that in the second is gwelais /gwelais/. As it stands now, environ-

ments lit and IIx are specified in such a way as to prohibit the underlying

Jk| from undergoing rule 1.1.a and deriving an inadmissable */gliuais/.

If, however, we apply the spirant mutation first, the underlying IkI is

rewritten /x/, to yield the correct form /xlLuais/. If the spitant

mutation applies first, nothing happens to the underlying IgJ of

/gwelais/, as rule 1.3 only applies to voiceless aspirated stops. If

we apply the soft mutation rules now, there is no /k/ upon which rule

1,1.a can act, and so there is no reason to specify that 1..a does not

apply. Thus, the spirant mutation 'bleeds' (see Kiparsky 1968) the

environment of the soft mutation rules.

In this manner, the overlapping of environments can lead to a more

economical description. By taking the bleeding relationship into

account, we can reduce the specification in environments IIt and IIx,

yielding simpler rules.

Moreover, we now find that environment IIt is identical to environ-

ment IVg and environment IIx is identical to environment IVd, except

for the marking of the particular mutation. Thus, the two pairs can be

combined with the mutation markings in braces. Of course, [+SM] must

be entered above [+LM], as spirant mutation must precede soft mutation.

We can refer, then, to such overlapping environments withthe notation

'environment IV/II'.

2.7 Constituent Environments. A close examination of the environments

put forth in this chapter should reveal some potential conflicts. For

example, in environment IVa, we see that a noun possessed by the third

person singular feminine possessive pronoun is in a spirant mutation

environment. Moreover, in environment IIg, we see that a noun which

functions as the direct object of an inflected verb is in a soft muta-

tion environment. What happens if the noun functioning as the direct

object of an inflected verb (environment IIg) happens to be preceded

by the third person singular possessive pronoun (environment IVa)?

Let us take, for example, the word cath /kaQ/ 'cat' with an

underlying initial Ikt. The initial segment undergoes rule 1.1.a in

the sentence gwelais gath /gwelais gag/ 'I saw a oat', and it undergoes

rmle 1.3 in the phrase ei chath /it xa9/ 'her cat'. When the phrase is

embedded within the sentence, the result is gwelais ei chath /gwelais

is xag/ 'I saw her cat', in which the spirant mutation prevails. This

is not a situation, as we find in the previous section, in which the

more restricted environment applies first, for we can also find the phrase

ei hen gath /is hen ga@/ 'her old cat', in which environments lIe and

IVa conflict and environment lie prevails.

The choice of which environment prevails is dependent upon the

immediate constituents of the sentence (as adapted from Wells 1947;

Postal 1964; etc.). An immediate constituent analysis of the above

example would yield the following tree diagrams


Under NOUN PHRASE2, NOUN is an immediate constituent of DETERMINER, and

the entire NOUN PHRASE2 is an immediate contituent of VERB under


Thus, we can form a generalization as to the application of the

various environments. A word can only be affected by the environment

of its immediate constituency. This forms an important element in the

description of the mutation system, for it limits the effective range

of dominance of the mutation rules.

An interesting example of this phenomenon is found in section

2,2.r. In the sentence clywais ryw ir /kliuais riu usr/ 'I heard some

man', an immediate constituent analysis yields the following tree




clywais ryw wr

As I point out in section 2.2.r, gwr /guar/ 'man' undergoes soft muta-

tion because of environment lie. Now if a noun had been the only

element of NOUN PHRASE2, the noun would have undergone soft mutation

because of environment IIg. Taking this into consideration, we can say

that environment IIr is merely a subset of environment IIg, which

should read as follows 'When the inflected form of the verb is used,

any noun phrase which serves as direct object to the verb is in the

environment IIg.' Accordingly, the initial segment of the entire

phrase (if it is one of the affectable segments as shown in section 1.1)

undergoes soft mutation.

Such a revision contains a further generalization which serves to

lend a greater economy to the description. The mutation environments

do not affect words, as such; rather, they affect entire constituents.

The rules, then, do not apply to individual words that occur in the

environment, but to the initial segment of the constituent.

The notion that the rules apply to constituents and not to individual

words is supported by the treatment of words in series. According to

Morgan (1952:182), when a series of words occurs in a mutation environment,

only the first word undergoes the mutation. In Morgan's example, there

are three verb-nouns, canu /kani/ 'sing', dawnsio /daunsio/ 'dance',

and rhedeg /redeg/ 'run', in a series in the sentence gallaf gnu,

dawnsio, rhedeg /galav gani daunsio wedeg/ 'I can sing, dance, run',

As the entire noun phrase, which includes the three verb-nouns, is in

environment IIg, the initial consonant of the entire phrase undergoes

soft mutation.

The relationship of environment I as a real environment can be seen

in this phenomenon of embedded constituencies. In the sentence gwelais

y dyn /gwelais a din/ 'I saw the man', the fact that the definite article

preceding a masculine noun constitutes an occurrence of environment I

determines that no mutation can be effected. This lack of mutation

cannot be reversed, no matter what mutating environment the word may

enter at a higher level of constituency.

In the generative framework, the constituency relationships shown

in the application of mutation environments can be adequately handled

through the transformational cycle (see Fillmore 1963). By cyclical

application of rules, environments of embedded structures are established

and rules applied, before the environments of the embedding structures

are established. The mutation rules of Modern Welsh, then, undergo

cyclical application.

2.8 The Totality of the Environments. As stated in section 2.0, the

mutation environments are both necessary and sufficient for the applica-

tion of the mutation rules on affectable segments, as outlined in Chapter

1. In the generative framework, these environments are established

before the application of the rules. Thus, the environments have a

decisive effect upon the segments which undergo mutation, but the seg-

ments have no effect whatever upon the establishment of the environments.

For example, in environment IV, the underlying initial segment

Itl is realized as /9/, as in the word thad /gad/ 'father spirantt

mutation form)'. The realization of underlying ItI as /O/, moreover,

is a clear indication on the surface that the affected word is in

environment IV. If, on the other hand, we place the word ama /maa/

'mother' in the same environment, the underlying mja is realized /a/,

giving us no outward indication (phonologically) that the word is in

environment IV. Just because the result gives no outward phonological

indication of environment IV, however, is no reason to suppose that

environment IV is not present. Environment IV and all environments are

syntagms which exist, in the generative model, prior to any phonological


This point is particularly crucial to the description of the con-

sonant shift and to the arguments presented in the next chapter. Each

and every initial segment in the Welsh sentence is under one of the five

environments at all times. These environments are the motivation for

the realization of the underlying segments as surface (or intermediate)

segments, and each environment may cause some segments to be changed and

other segments to be realized in the radical form. Whether or not we

see any change in the phonological specifications of a segment, the

environment is present.

The notion that every initial segment (at least) is in one environ-

ment at any one time can be graphically illustrated as in Table 2.8.

Environments II, III, IV, and V are specified in the grammar and occupy

a restricted place in the universe. Environments II and IV overlap

(see section 2.7), as do environments IV and V (see sections 2.4.b

and 2.5). The rest of the universe is occupied by environment I.

Environment I is, then, liaiitless, so that any grammatical string which

does not meet the specifications of environments II, III, IV, or V

must be included in environment I. There are no possible grammatical

strings which exist outside the universe.

Table 2.8
Distribution of Mutation Environments


II am using here phonological segments which are reflected fairly
closely in the standard orthography. Although w is written in the
orthography, it is not a separate segmental 'sound' but is realized
as rounding throughout the initial cluster of the word.

2The verb-noun in Welsh has no English equivalent. It functions
in many ways as a nonfinite form of the verb, but it enters into
grammatical relationships as a noun. For example, in the periphrastic
verbal construction, in conjunction with the predicator yn /en/ it
is roughly equivalent to the English participle in the English peri-
phrastic verbal construction, but when the object is a pronoun, the
verb-noun is 'possessed' by the pronoun in the same manner in which
a noun is possessed.

3The exceptions are hyd /hd/, which (as cited) belongs to that
class of prepositions governing the soft mutation but does not undergo
a conjugation, and rhwng /rj/ 'between', which does not belong to
the class of prepositions governing the soft mutation but does undergo
a conjugation.

There are, however, some exceptions. Chief among these are
adjectives following the feminine noun nos /nos/ 'night'. These
adjectives do not undergo mutation. Hence, we find the phrase
nos da /nos da/ 'good night' (rather than *nos dda */nos 6a/), in
which the adjective does not undergo soft mutation. For a more
complete discussion of such phenomena, see section 3.0.

5Note that in this case, the noun follows the adjective in
environment HIe. This special type of relationship is treated further
in section 2.7.

6As is the case throughout the language, there are several dialect
variants in use in different parts of Wales. For some examples of
some of these, see R.O. Jones 1971.

7At this point, I deviate from the order presented in James
(1966:43). I do this in order to separate tra /tra/ from the nega-
tives, as together they do not really constitute a single grammatical

8Again, as in section 2.2.b and section 2.3.b, the contracted
form of the possessive pronoun is added ont the vowel ending in a
limited number of words. Compare the distribution of 'w /u/ as a


third person singular feminine possessive pronoun contraction and as
a third person plural possessive pronoun contraction with the dis-
tribution of the masculine pronoun contraction in 2.2.b and the feminine
pronoun contraction governing the spirant mutation in 2.3.b.


3.0 Exceptions and Counter-Examples. The environments which I posit

in Chapter 2 for the various mutation rules include the most common

of the mutation environments. The few which remain, however, do not

constitute any particular problem for the description and can simply

be added to the list (compare, for example, Evans and Thomas 1968s451-21

Morgan 1952). There are no additional environments which can cause any

discrepancies in the relationship which holds between the phonological

side and the grammatical side of Welsh mutation.

Notwithstanding the fact that no particular problems would be

generated by the addition of other environments, there are indeed some

problems which exist within the environments themselves. Most of these

problems can be treated as belonging to one of two classifications--excep-

tions and counter-examples (in the manner they are used in Hjelmslev


When a word would 'normally' form part of a mutation environment,

either as a conditioning element or the item to be affected, and the

mutation rule is not applied because of some arbitrary and idiosyncratic

nature of this word, then the word is an exception to the mutation. In

order for this to be a true exception, the fact that the word does not

undergo mutation cannot be predicted from any morphological or syntactic

(or, indeed, semantic) class to which the word may belong.

I mention an example of one such exception in section 2,2.n.

Although nos /night/ 'night' is a feminine singular noun and da /da/

'good' is an adjective, when da /da/ follows nos /nos/, environment

IIn does not apply. Thus we find nos da /nos da/ 'good night', but not

*nos dda~nos 6a/, in spite of the fact that the latter is what one

would expect.

Neither nos /nos/ nor da /da/ belongs to any grammatical or semantic

class which regularly violates the conditions of environment IIn. We

can say, then, that nos /nos/ (at least) in this case constitutes an

exception to the nutation rules. It is not enough merely to point this

out, however. In a generative description, this exception must be

described within the system.

The manner in which the exception is accounted for within the

generative model is neither phonlogical nor grammatical, Rather, the

exception is noted in the lexicon that is, it is marked for the

particular word in the base component of the grammar (see Chonsky

1965). Now the uaw of all grammatical features that determine the

manner of lexical insertion and permissible transformations for each

word in the lexicon is found in the complex symbol of that word. Thus,

nos /nos/ would be designated as [+Noun, 4Coanon, 4Count,...].

Assuming that it is this noun that forms the exception to environment

IIn, we would add the feature [-environment IIn] to the complex symbol

of this word.

It is important for our description that we appreciate the implica-

tions of our including a blocking feature in the complex symbol. The

lexical subcomponent is found, as noted above, in the base component

of the grammar. As the transforeational-generative model is directional,

we thus insure that the necessary information is noted in the gra nar

before the application of transformational rules in the syntactic

component. This is necessary, for the transfoerational rules estab-

lish the various environments noted in Chapter 2. Now that the blocking

feature is specified, as soon as the transformations yield environment

IIn, it is known that the mutation rules in the phonology (in this case,

rule ,1.,b) will not be effected.

At least in the approach to transformational grammar in which

lexical items are inserted before transformational rules take place

(see Choasky 1972), the matter of exceptions to the mutation rules

presents no problem. Exceptions are simply lexical items with particular

blocking features in their complex symbols, A similar situation can

be found in New High German, in which the word Nacht /naxt/ 'night',

which is marked [+feminine], in certain grammatical conditions (the

indefinite time adverbial) is marked [-feminine] in order to derive the

phrase eines Nachtes /aines naxtes/ 'one (indefinite) night'. Indeed,

the effect of blocking environment IIn in the case of the Welsh nos

/nos/ would be the same as we find in the German example.

Whereas an exception is idiosyncratic in nature, a counter-example

represents a particular pattern. When a delimited class of items

regularly fails to activate the mutation rules, then the class forms a

counter-example to these rules. Now the basis of classification can be

grammatical or seaantic, but a basis that can be defined must exist.

Perhaps the most common example of a counter-example in Welsh

mutation is the proper noun. Although a proper noun nay, in some

instances, undergo mutation (compare Morgan 1952s3), it usually does

not, when the proper noun is the name of an individual. Thus, a sentence

such as l Mair /gwelo6 mair/ 'he saw Mary' is grammatical in spite

of environment IIg.

As in the case of the exception, the counter-example is marked in

the lexicon. Rather than marking every personal name, however, we can

mark the entire class by a lexical redundancy rule by which the features

[-Coanon] and [+Personal] imply the feature [-Mutation] in the complex

symbol. Although we thus accommodate an entire class rather than a

single item, the implications inherent in the counter-example for the

operation of the transformational-generative model are the same as those

inherent in the exception. The only difference in our description

between an exception and a counter-example is that one entails the

marking of a particular complex symbol while the other entails the

marking of a class of complex symbols.

Leaving aside the currently uncertain position of semantics, the

present description makes use of (1) a base component, which supplies

the lexical items with their particular markings and which supplies

the basic string| (2) a syntactic component, which arranges the basic

string of marked lexical entries into the various environmental and (3)

a phonological component, which interprets the lexical entries relative

to the syntactic arrangement and applies the mutation rules wherever

applicable. Regardless of any exceptions and counter-examples, then,

the basic relationships between the phonological half and the grammatical

half of mutation can be described through rules which are regular.

The regularity of the mutation system from base component to

phonological component hinges upon the maintenance of the relationships

that obtain between the syntax and the phonology. This is to say that

all other problems which may arise can be handled by greater or less

specificity in the lexical entry or by transformations, so long as the

problems do not affect the basic relationships between grammatical

environment and phonological rule.

As stated at the outset of this chapter, most of the problems

(such as personal nouns) which seem to exist in the mutation system

can be treated as exceptions or as counter-examples. There is one

other situation, however, which cannot be so treated. This case, in

fact, appears to affect the basic relationships between grammar and

phonology. Because the word gan /gan/ 'with' exemplifies this, I call

this situation the problem of a /gan/.

3.1 The Problem of gan. The word gan /gan/ can function either as a

preposition, with the meaning 'with' or 'by', or as a conjunction

introducing an adverbial clause, with the meaning 'as' or 'while'.

New it is often the case that an adverbial clause will be introduced

by the conjunction a /a/ 'and' or by its negative na /na/ 'and not'.

As we see in section 2.4.f, this conjunction (and its negative) is

sufficient motivation for environment IVf and the application of the

spirant mutation rule, if the initial consonant of the following word

is a voiceless aspirated stop (or aspirata).

Thus, when the conjunction a /a/ precedes the word gan /gan/,

we should expect the resulting construction to be *a gan */a gan/,

because, although one necessary factor in the mutation is present (the

conjunction a /a/), ga /gan/ does not have a voiceless aspirated stop

in initial position. The fact is that Igi does not undergo spirant

mutation and should be realized here as the radical /g/. However,

a gan */a gan/ is not the grammatical construction. The acceptable form

in Standard Welsh is a chan /a xan/.

The problem in the relationship between gan /gan/ and a chan

/a xan/ is a fairly obvious one. An element of nutation environment

IVf causes a segment which normally does not have a different spirant

mutation foray either to create a special spirant mutation foray or to

borrow the spirant nutation form of some other segment. Throughout

Chapters 1 and 2, we see that it is a basic principle of operation that

the nutation system consists of regular phonological rules motivated

by distinct environmental factors. The exceptions and counter-exaaples

of section 3.0, moreover, do nothing to weaken the relationship between

grammatical environments and regular phonological rules--they merely

demand a greater amount of lexical marking. Now this situation brings

about a problem in the basic relationship between grammar and phonology,

and even within the phonology itself.

As we attempt to find a solution to this problem which will allow

us to include the phenomenon in an explicit generative description of

Welsh, we ought to realize that a simple lexical specification cannot

provide us with the solution. In the cases of exceptions and counter-

examples, all that is necessary is some mark which blocks the application

of the phonological rule. In this case, on the other hand, we do not

find an exception or a counter-example, but we find a deviation. It

is first necessary for us to determine just what it is that is deviating

and how it is deviating, before we can add any specifying mark to the


There are two other prepositions that undergo the same deviation,

and I would like to mention them here. Gyda /geda/ 'along with' and

ger /ger/ 'at' are realized in environment IVf as a chyd /a xada/ and

a cher /a xer/, respectively. It is not, then, a simple case of one

isolated word, but a case of several words which may form a sub-class of

the function words. The fact that function wordswords of high incidence,

are involved, of course, heightens the necessity of accounting for the

deviation in a generative description.

3.2 The Minor Rule Based upon Igani. At the center of the problem of

gan /gan/, we do not find a grammatical deviation in and of itself.

The grammatical considerations inherent in environment IVf have not

changed--only the phonological rules effected by the environment have

changed from their specifications in Chapter 1. Thus, any lexical

feature added to the item IganI will have to refer to a specific phono-

logical rule to be invoked in these particular instances. The problem

is to determine what rule to posit.

As we observe the surface phenomena, we can see that a phonological

/g/ alternates with a phonological /x/. As I demonstrate in section
1.0, the first phonological segment of /gan/ is the radical segment,

the segment which appears in environment I, and because it is the

radical, it is by definition the underlying segment J g from which both

/g/ and /x/ are derived. Thus, quite simply, the phonological rule to
be marked in the lexical entry is one which derives /x/ from I g in

environment IV.

However, there appears to be a major complication. According to

the mutation rules, only /g/ can be derived from igl in environment IV

(compare section 2.8). Thus, we have one environment for one underlying

segment, but two phonological rules applying in that one environment.

This creates a complication, for we must now find some way of telling

when to use one rule and when to use the other. In order to overcome

this complication in our phonology, we can make use of the notion of a

'minor rule'.

A minor rule is a rule with limited range of application which is

applied in place of a (major) phonological rule when the lexical entry

of the particular item specifies that the minor rule be used. Thus,

the lexical entry for Igani could be marked [+Minor rule] so that the

normal mutation rule deriving /gan/ would be superseded by the minor

rule deriving /xan/.

This minor rule can be posited as follows

ShL-asp :n fcrtenfbok] IV

From the outset, this minor rule appears suspect. As we can see

from the mutation rules in Chapter 1, the tendency in mutation is for

voiceless aspirated segments to become voiced unaspirated segments, not

for voiced segments to become voiceless. In section 2.1, moreover,

the hard mutation, which is also allegedly a case of voiced becoming

voiceless, is discounted because of this very tendency. As voiced

segments do not regularly become voiceless obstruents, the minor rule,

as it is found in rule 3.2,a, does not appear to be consistent with

the system.

orIeove in this minor rule, we find two major feature changes--

voiced to voiceless, noncontinuant to continuant. Although this is not

without precedent (compare rules l1.d and l.i.e), most phonological

rules treated thus far in the literature change only one feature specifica-

tion at one time.

This latter point may give rise to an intermediate stage hypothesis.

By using an intermediate level in our derivation, we can first derive /y/

fromigl, a process which would maintain the frication process of

spirant mutation. As this /y/ is not in the inventory of Welsh sounds,

it can be realized as the closest segment to it--/x/. This would result

in the following minor rules

b. gl / /x/ / IV

pvcd v -vcd +obs
-asp cnt Lnt L+bckJ IV

As mentioned in section 1.1, however, the intermediate level makes

use of a 'false step', the positing of a segment which never appears

on the surface. As we see in that section, the process by which a

voiced unaspirated stop is realized as a voiced fricative is not at
all indicative of spirant mutation, but it is indicative of soft muta-

tion. Were we to allow the false step derivation of intermediate /y/

in this instance, moreover, there would be no reason to disallow it in

a more general form of mutation rule 1.1.b. Such a situation would

have us derive null from /y/ in the one case and /x/ from /y/ in the


I should like to leave environment IV momentarily in order to

examine the behavior of gan /gan/ in environment II. Morgan (19521385)

mentions the string y gan /e gan/.1 Assuming that the minor rule

necessary to prohibit the derivation of *r an (by rule 1.1.c, as in

y gan /a gan/) acts upon the underlying Igani, then we adt posit a

minor rule such as the following:

c. Igl /g/ /II

This minor rule looks suspect, for the soft mutation rules are

the broadest of the mutation rules in scope (see also Griffen 1974b).

It seems irregular that a minor rule would be needed in effect to block

the application of a soft mutation rule. By using the intermediate

stage of rule 3.2.b, however, we can invoke a change in soft mutation,
as follows a

d. g1 y/ /g / I

Of course, such a minor rule as 3.2.d is clearly absurd. It takes

the premise of the false step beyond reason, and it certainly destroys

the intermediate /y/ hypothesis. However, if we observe rules 3.2.b

and 3.2.d, an alternative intermediate stage hypothesis suggests itself,

The alternative intermediate level contains the phonological segment /k/.

The use of the intermediate /k/ should eliminate the unnatural

nature of the intermediate /y/, for we know that /x/ is in fact derived

from underlying Ik and that /g/ is in fact derived from underlying

Iki in the regular application of mutation rules 1.3 and 1.1.a. All

that is needed in the new minor rule is the following

e. Igl /k / IIIV
;4pv / M-cnt
L+bck II,IV

Such an hypothesis, however, is not credible because there is no

rule relationship between the Igi and the /k/. Instead, what credibility

there may be in minor rule 3.2.e lies in the fact that, when it is

ordered before the mutation rules, we need only apply rule 1.3 in environ-

ment IV and rule 1,1.a in environment II. Thus, we find the following

systematic distribution.

/g / II

gl /k/<

/x/ / IV

In spite of the credibility lent to it by the subsequent mutation
of the intermediate /k/, the minor rule 3.2.e runs counter to the
tendencies of the mutation system by deriving a voiceless aspirated
stop from a voiced unaspiratedstop.
Moreover, as I show in the next chapter, if one of these words
were to be found in environment III, the resulting phonological seg-
ment would also be formed from the intermediate /k/ (compare the form
ghyd /a.hid/ 'together', related to gda /goda/), Of course, such a
development would also require minor rule 3.2.e and produce the follow-
ing systematic distribution:

/g/ /II
Ig /k/ h/ / III
// / iv

At first glance, the systematic distribution 3.2.g looks fairly
regular. However, only three of the four environments which affect
initial consonants are incorporated into this statement, In environment
I, the minor rule does not apply, so that /g/ can be derived directly
from Ig I. Taking this into account, our distribution statement may be
written as follows:

h. /g/ / I

/ /g/ / II
l /h/ / III
// / IV

This distribution statement should render one fact obvious. By

itself, the underlying I g without the intermediate /k/ can account

for only one phonological segment. The intermediate /k/, on the

other hand, can account for three of the four phonological segments.
A much simpler solution would derive the /g/ in environment I also

from the /k/, a practice which I investigate in the next section.

3.3 The Minor Rule Based upon Ikanl. As we see in section 3.2, by
using the seemingly obvious assumption that the initial consonant

found in environment I corresponds to the underlying segment in all

instances (an assumption valid throughout the mutation system to this
point), we arrive at a solution to the problem of gan /gan/ which is
so complex as to be unnatural. Implicit Inthe analysis of section

3.2 is the notion that the grammatical considerations of station
can bring about the change of an underlying segment so that the muta-
tion rules can produce certain distinctions in the output of the

phonological component. Such a notion represents a departure from the

regular relationships between grammar and phonology which is so great
as to render this analysis (section 3.2) at best suspect, unless there
is further strong corroboration.
As stated at the end of the last section, only one of the four

ultimate phonological segments cannot be predicted from the intermediate
/k/ using the already-existing rules in Chapter 1. This point raises

the possibility of using the underlying segment Ik( and then a minor

rule deriving /g/ from IkI in environment I. Such a solution would

increase the simplicity of our description considerably.

Of course, one area of the description that can be simplified by

using underlying Ik is the systematic distribution. Statement 3.2.h

represents a complex distribution requiring two rules for the derivation

of each of three phonological segments. A minor rule such as 3.3,

below, however, would have two rules deriving only one of the four

segments, if any.

Of far greater importance to our description is the impact of such

a minor rule on the mutation system itself. The mutation rules are

morphophonological in the sense that they are motivated by grammatical

considerations, irrespective of phonological considerations, A minor

rule of the type found in 3.2.e would have mutation rules operating

on an intermediate segment--not on the underlying segment, as we find

elsewhere throughout the system. A minor rule operating on underlying

Ikl, on the other hand, would maintain the notion that the nutation rules

operate directly on the underlying segment. By thus allowing a greater

degree of conformity with the mutation system, this alternative solution

lends considerable simplicity to the system.

For these reasons, then, as well as for others considered later

in this section, we can posit the following minor rule

IkI /g/ / I

4aspJ t-asm r+bck
L-cntJ I

Although minor rule 3.3 is superior to minor rule 3.2.e, I include

the complicated arguments in section 3.2 in order to demonstrate two

areas of concern that might weaken minor rule 3.3. First of all, minor

rule 3.3 operates in environment I, the unspecified environment. It

is otherwise axiomatic that where environment I exists, no mutation is

effected. In section 3.2, however, we see the complexity of description

to which this supposed axiom would lead us. Furthermore, the minor rule

is not, strictly speaking, a mutation rule. Thus, we can still main-

tain that mutation is not effected in environment I.

The concern over the nature of environment I leads directly to

the second area of concern. This second area has to do with the notion

of 'absolute neutralization' (see Kiparsky 1973). By using an underlying

Igl, we maintain the 'alternation condition', avoiding absolute neutraliza-

tion. This is to say that the underlying 1gl is reflected in one of the

phonological segments on the surface, thereby maintaining some overt

justification for positing the underlying segment as Igl. An underlying

Ikl, on the other hand, is not realized on the surface as a /k/, thereby

failing to maintain this overt justification.

Of course, it is fairly easy for the linguist to posit an abstract

underlying segment which does not occur on the surface in the descrip-

tion of an 'exotic' language (for example, Hyman 1970). Yet, any

linguist who posits such an abstract segment in a well-known European

language had best prepare a good defense. Welsh with its earlier forms

boasts fourteen centuries of literary tradition, so this abstractness

creates a particular area of weakness for the minor rule, if only by

the fact that attacks against it will be strenuous.

I should point out that minor rule 3,2.e also makes use of an

abstract segment in the form of the intermediate stage. Minor rule

3.3, then, is not really any more abstract than 3.2.e--it merely makes

the neutralization into a more explicit statement. If we wish to

avoid abstractness, we will have to derive the phonological segments

/g/, /ph/, and /x/ directly from jgl.
As stated in section 1.2, voiceless aspirated nasals are only found

as a result of nasal mutation. Moreover, the voiceless aspirated

nasals can only be derived from their voiceless aspirated stop cognates.

Indeed, this is the origin of the aspiration in the nasals. An occur-

rence of /Uh/ can therefore only be derived from underlying lk, not
from underlying ) gi

Furthermore, as we direct our attention to the string a chan

/a xan/, we find a voiceless velar fricative. This segment is not

followed by an occurrence of /w/, Not it is extremely rare (if, indeed,

it is even possible in literary Standard Welsh) that we find an initial

/x/ which is not followed by /w/ except where that /x/ is the spirant

mutation form of /k/.2 Thus, the speaker would assume, given the

string a chan /a xan/, that the /x/ is derived from Ikl, not from Igl.

There is also direct historical evidence to support minor rule

3.3 and the underlying Ikl, Although I do address this evidence in
section 4.1, I do not believe it proper to introduce historical evidence

at this point, as we are involved in these first three chapters with a

synchronic description of the Welsh mutation system, and such a syn-

chronic description should be able to stand on its own merits. On the

other hand, there is some historical evidence which may be relevant to

the synchronic description, for it pertains to a tendency which may very

well exist in Modern Welsh. This tendency is lenition (see section 1.1).

According to Jackson (1953:23), the process of lenition is found in the

fifth century A.D. in both Brythenic (>Welsh) and Goidelic (>Irish)

due to some phonological 'nuance' inherited by both languages from

Common Celtic. Indeed, both Welsh and Irish still maintain remarkably

similar lenition. If this tendency, which was strong enough to affect

two languages after they had separated from a common source, still

exists in Modern Welsh, then a minor rule deriving /g/ from JkJ is

certainly not unexpected. I return to this tendency throughout the

following chapters.

In spite of the problems with absolute neutralization, the evidence

seems to support minor rule 3.3. Clearly, the alternatives create more

problems than they solve. However, there is still need for some strong

corroboration--some evidence which supports the notion that rule 3.3

adequately describes the deviation in the mutation system.

3.4 Evidence for the Minor Rule. The analysis of the deviation through

minor rule 3.3 in the previous section certainly leads to a simple,

concise description of the phenomena involved. This description affords

maximum generality and conformity with the mutation system. Finally,

the description by way of a minor rule is explicit and adheres to the

generative methods of description.

In spite of the fact that this analysis provides a simple, general,

generative solution to the deviation, the phenomena which are involved

in minor rule 3.3 still constitute a deviation. A deviation must have

corroboration--some further evidence from some other point in the

linguistic system which supports the proposed solution to the deviation.

By corroboration, I do not mean simple recitations of data which mirror

exactly the deviation examined above. Instead, we need some evidence

which more closely ties the phonological voiced unaspirated stop in

environment I to the underlying voiceless aspirated stop, further

justifying our analysis.

In order to find corroboration for our minor rule, we need go no

further than the class of prepositions itself. There are two pairs of

prepositions cz=cial to this analysis. They are tros,dros /tros,dros/

'over' and trwy,drwg /trust,drusl/ 'through'.

In environment I, both members of each pair may be used in free

variation. For example, the phrase tros y cae /tros a ka:L/ 'over the

field' may be found in the same text as the phrase dros y cae /dros

a kaIi/ 'over the field'. Moreover, the phrase trwy'r drws /truair

drus/ 'through the door' may exist along side of the phrase drwy'r

drws /drusir drus/ 'through the door'. At this point, there is not any

motivation for deriving the second member of each pair from the first,

as a soft mutation environment is lacking. And there is certainly no

motivation for deriving the first from the second, as this would contra-

dict the 'normal' tendency found in the mutation system.3

It is in environment IV that we find the needed corroborating

evidence. If the prepositional phrases mentioned above are preceded

by the conjunction a /a/ 'and', then the preposition enters environ-

ment IVf. We might expect, then, to derive the phrases a thros y cae

/a Gros a kaiL/ 'and over the field' and *a dros Z caeoa dros a kai/

from the first pair, and the phrases a thry'r drws /a Orullr drugs/

'and through the door' and *a drwy'r drws */a drulir drus/ from the

second pair. The second member of each pair, however, is not found.

When either member of the two pairs enters environment IV, the spirant

mutation form from the first member is derived, regardless of which

member of the pair is used in environment I.

The fact that only the spirant mutation form of underlying Itl

is permissible in environment IV indicates that the underlying form

of both members of the first pair is Itros and of both members of the

second pair is trutij. In order to derive the optional second member

of each pair, the underlying form must undergo a minor rule of the form
found in rule 3.3 in environment I.
The alternation of /t/ and /d/ both derived from Itl in environ-

ment I is evidence that a voiced unaspirated stop can indeed be derived
from a voiceless aspirated stop in the unspecified environment. More-
over, the existence of /t/ along side of /d/ satisfies the alternation

Perhaps a more interesting pair of this type is found in tan

/tan/ and dan /dan/. Like gan /gan/, this pair represents a preposition
meaning 'under' and a conjunction introducing an adverbial clause with

the meaning 'while (in the past)'. The use of tan /tan/ as a preposition
is fairly rare except in certain compound prepositions, such as oddi tan

/o6i tan/ 'from under'. Tan /tan/ is more often used in the adverbial

construction, where (as noted above) the conjunction a /a/ is often

found with its environment IVf. Of course, when a /a/ does precede
either tan /tan/ or dan /dan/, the resulting string is a than /a Gan/.

The close grammatical and semantic relationship adverbiallyy) between
tan,dan /tan,dan/ and gan /gan/ adds further credence to the minor

rule hypothesis.
Thus, the pairs tros,dros /tros,dros/, tw,dry /trui,dru i/,

and tan,dan /tan,dan/ supply the evidence needed to show that gan

/gan/, gyda /geda/, and ger /ger/ all have an initial underlying Ikl
and undergo a now-more-general minor rule in environment I.
This analysis is, in fact, suggested by Morgan (1952s452), who

claims that in these words the t /t/ and c /k/ are resurrected (cael

eu hadfer) after the conjunction a /a/ in order for the spirant mutation

to be effected. Now Morgan is speaking in historical terms, but clearly

the application of this 'resurrection' can be seen in the synchronic


The minor rule now must be made more general in order to include

the dental as well as the velars. Moreover, the minor rule also

affects labials, as shown in the next chapter. Thus the rule in its

most general form can be written as follows

PVCcdl / Ldh9bsJ
+I- basi -cntj I

This minor rule 3.4 can now be incorporated into the grammar of

Welsh. The rule itself is in the phonological component, but the lexical

items which undergo the rule are marked in the lexicon with the feature

[+Minor rule 3.4]. Thus, the deviation can be accounted for in a
generative description.

3.5 The Synchronic Description. These first three chapters present

a synchronic description of the Welsh consonant mutation system.

Chapter 1 notes the regular phonological rules inherent in the system

Chapter 2 mentions the grammatical categories and constructions which

motivate the systems and Chapter 3 deals with the exceptions, counter-

examples, and deviations of the system and how these can be accounted

for in a generative description.

This description is explicit, in that the rules are posited and

the methods for incorporating the rules are treated. On the other hand,

this description is not intended to be exhaustive. However, additional

information needed to describe the mutation system will not change the

methods used here. Any additional environments need only be added to

the existing classifications. Moreover, exceptions and counter-examples

can be marked in the lexicon just as they are in section 3.0. Even if

any other deviations may be found (which is doubtful) they can be

handled in the same way as is the problem of gan /gan/ in this chapter.

Phonological additions can also be incorporated if necessary. For

example, as showntn Griffen 1974b, the inclusion of the affricates in

the mutation system can be accomplished with the existing phonological


As this has been a synchronic description, it has not been my

concern how these rules and these environments have come into being in

the Welsh language. I have only been concerned with how this system

can be described at this point in time. With the deviation, however,

we find a set of phenomena which demonstrates some degree of instability--

two rules operating on the same form in the same environment. This

instability of the deviation appears to be an indication of linguistic


As the deviation supplies us with the element of historical lin-

quistics, I leave the purely synchronic nature of the system and consider

the historical aspects in the next chapter. It is this deviation which

leads most directly into the matter of the new Welsh consonant shift.


1This form is only found in written Welsh based upon earlier
texts. It becomes clear by the end of this chapter that the article
y /a/ in this case brings about environment II--as opposed to other
cases in which it does not--for example, the preposition y tu mewn i
/e ti moun i/ 'outside of'.

2In fact, it can be argued that we should add a separate phono-
logical segment /xw/ with the feature [+round] to Table 1.0.c, to
handle con-mutation forms of the voiceless velar fricative in
initial position.

3To be sure, there is the matter of hard mutation, which I discuss
further in section 5.1.


4.0 The Generalization of the Minor Rule. Up to this point, we have been

concerned with a synchronic analysis. In such an analysis, it does not

matter where the deviation found in the problem of gan /gan/ (in the

previous chapter) originated, Nor does it matter how this deviation has

come into existence, nor where it may be leading. It is enough in a

synchronic analysis to show that the minor rule 3.4 offers the best

resolution of the deviation.

It is pointed out in section 3.4 that Morgan(1952s452) attributes

the deviation of such words as gan /gan/ and dan /dan/ to the 'res-

surection' (adfer) of c /k/ and t /t/, respectively, as radicals, from

which we may posit the underlying segments. Apart from the fact that

this reference to the single most authoritative work on mutation converges

upon the minor rule hypothesis, in our synchronic analysis the opinion of

Morgan is of limited application.

The deviation characterized by minor rule 3.4, however, is not of

particular interest in the synchronic description of Welsh, except for

its effect upon some generative phonological points of theory (see

section 3.3). Primarily, the deviation is of historical interest. As

stated in section 3.5, the very fact that we have a minor rule operating

in Welsh is an indication that there may be some historical developments

taking place. This connection between the minor rule as an entity of

description and historical change is a central part of historical

linguistics as it is described through the generative school,

Sound change comes about as a result of the reinterpretation of

the acoustic signal by the language learner (compare Anttila 1972t198),

This is to say that the learner creates a phonology which is different

from that created by the linguistic source. The difference between the

learner's phonology and the source's phonology can be described in the

generative mode through the existing theoretical devices.

In phonological theory, as found in Chomsky and Halle 1968, Schane

1973, and so forth, we begin with a 'deep' representation and apply

rules to this representation and to subsequent intermediate representa-

tions in order to derive the 'surface' forms, Thus, the generative

method must always start with an item. In historical linguistics, this

item is the underlying 'deep' form of the older dialect. An historical

change involves a deviation from the derivation used in the older dialect.

The change, then, in historical forms can be described through

newer rules applying to older forms. According to King 1969, there are

four classifications of change, as seen through the generative framework.

The first is restructuring--the underlying form of the older dialect

changes, without affecting the rules which derive surface forms. The

other three classifications maintain the older dialect's underlying forms

but change the rules that derive the surface forms from them. We may

find rule addition (a new rule added to the derivation), rule deletion

(an old rule becoming obsolete), or rule reordering (a rule which had

appeared before another rule coming after it, thus changing the output


It should be fairly clear that in this framework a rule cannot

be gradually added or gradually deleted or gradually reordered. The

change must be abrupt. Yet, as we look at past sound changes, we can

see that the language does not abruptly change from, for instance,

Brythonic to Old Welsh. The change itself comes about gradually through-

out the language community. The gradualness of the change throughout

the language community is explained by the notion that although the

restructuring or rule change occurs abruptly, the spread of this change

through the community is gradual. This abrupt change-gradual spread

hypothesis is a major tenet of generative theory (sea King 1969:119).

A language at one stage can be differentiated from the same language

at another stage through a description using restructuring and rule change.

But what of the period between the two stages? Indeed, the heterogeneity

of the language community is an indication that the language is continually

undergoing change (see Weinreich, Labov, and Herzog 1968).

It is in this period of on-going change that the notion of the

minor rule is invoked. In the case of rule addition, for example, we

find during the gradual spread of the added rule that the older rule

is still in effect in some dialects. As there is no restructuring, we

find two rules (assuming that derivation from one stage to the next

involves a rule) both operating upon the same underlying segment in the

language community. In order to account for this situation, we say that

the newer rule is a minor rule which is in competition within the

language community. This minor rule then spreads, by becoming the more

prestigious form, until it displaces the dder rule. (Compare also H.

Anderson 1973.)

Thus, within the generative approach to language change, the minor

rule nay be syatomatic of on-going linguistic change. On the other hand,

it may very well be that a minor rule enters the language (by change, to

be sure) but remains a simple exception to rules of the grammar. As

an exception, such a rule would be entered for a limited number of words

in the lexicon. As we see in section 3.0, for example, the fact that

the phrase nos da /nos da/ 'good night' does not bring about the muta-

tion rule 1.1.b because of environment IIn is not an indication of a

change in the language by which environment IIn may be eliminated. It

is simply an exception of no historical consequence.

In order for a minor rule to be indicative of linguistic change,

it must satisfy a crucial requisite of historical development--it

must spread. So long as a minor rule is spreading, no matter how

gradual that spreading may be, a linguistic change is occurring by


The spreading of a minor rule is known as 'rule generalization'.

There are two ways in which generalization can take place in generative

phonology. On the one hand, generalization is said to occur when a

rule applies to more environments. This is central to linguistic

change. On the other hand, a rule may generalize so as to affect an

entire natural class (see section 1.1). This is also an important

aspect of synchronic description as well as historical change. As we

see in this chapter, both types of generalization affect the minor rule

3.4, indicating that this is, indeed, a case of linguistic change.

4,1 The Historical Development of the Minor Rule. In order to show

that the minor rule represents a current process of linguistic change,

it is necessary to demonstrate that the rule is indeed generalizing to

more and more words, That is to say that it must be shown that the

minor rule is a growing phenomenon, not simply a relic surviving from

a now-unproductive historical accident.

As I mention above, Morgan (1952:452) attributes the deviation of

gan /gan/, for example, to the 'resurrection' of the radical c /k/.
Likewise, the deviations of the other function words with initial

velars can also be traced to this 'resurrection'. As we turn our

attention to the historical development of the deviation, it becomes

proper and necessary to consider where this 'resurrected' c /k/ comes

In Old Welsh, gn /gan/ is found spelled as can or cant (see Morris

Jones 1913:405! Jackson 1953s496; Evans 1960s124). Thus, in the Old

Welsh period (ninth through eleventh century) the radical c /k/ was

used exclusively in environment I. There is therefore no reason to

assume that the minor rule was in existence at this point in history,
In Middle Welsh (twelfth through fourteenth century), on the other

hand, both can (or kan) and gan can be found in environment I (see

Morris Jones 1913s405; Evans 1960:124). The introduction, then, of the

minor rule for the velars occurred during the Middle Ages. Even in

the Early Modern Welsh poetry, moreover, the radical c /k/ is sometimes

found (Morris Jones 1913s405).
This history of gan /gan/ (and the others) indicates that the

minor rule came into existence in the Middle Ages and competed with

the major derivation into the Early Modern Welsh period (fifteenth

through sixteenth century), at least in the more conservative verse.

In Modern Welsh, however, the minor rule has totally eclipsed the older

forms such that *can is not even listed in Evans and Thomas 1968, in

spite of the fact that many obsolete forms are included with asterisks

in that work.