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1 Kristján Árnason/Höskuldur Þráinsson: Phonological dialects in Icelandic: Generations and geographic areas.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Kristján Árnason/Höskuldur Þráinsson: Phonological dialects in Icelandic: Generations and geographic areas."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Kristján Árnason/Höskuldur Þráinsson: Phonological dialects in Icelandic: Generations and geographic areas

2 2 The structure of the talk 1. Icelandic as a nordic dialect 1.1 The beginning 1.2 The conservatism 2. Phonological dialects in Iceland in the 1940’s 2.1Björn Guðfinnsson’s (BG’s) study: motivation and methodology 2.2 BG’s main results 3. Our “Rannsókn á íslensku nútímamáli” (RÍN) 3.1 Our methdology and main results 3.2 Some questions raised by the RÍN-results 4. Structural considerations 4.1 Change, diffusion and the phonological system 4.2 Variation and accommodation from a structural perspective 5. Sociolinguistic considerations 5.1 Social factors 5.2 Language planning and language policy 6.The varying resistance of dialectal features 6.1 Northern features 6.2 South-eastern features 6.3 The flámæli (“slack-jawed speech”) 7. Conclusion

3 3 Ísland

4 4 1 Icelandic as a Nordic dialect The beginning: The beginning:  “Mixture of Norwegian dialects” (Hreinn Benediktsson 1964:26, Helgi Guðmundsson 1977:316-17).  Paradox (Kristján Árnason 2002): The “mixture” was exported back to Norway as a literary language.

5 5 Alternative The norm had a history and had undergone elaboration (Ausbau) as an oral medium, and as used in skaldic (and eddic) poetry and runes. The First Grammarian is in no doubt about norm selection.

6 6 The Origin of the Norm “Skáld eru höfundar allrar rýni” Legal tradition Runic standard (younger Fuþark)

7 7 The Conservatism and “perennial purism”  Translation of the Bible (1584): Guðbrandur Þorláksson: “Móðurmðáli voru til dýrðar” Arngrímur Jónsson ( ): Not to imitate the Danes or the Germans

8 8 Hallgrímur Pétursson ( ):  But if the old Norwegians have composed poetry about [Christianity] and written it up in their old Norwegian tongue, I do not think that they have mixed other languages into it, as we now do with shame and humiliation for our rich mother tongue

9 9 The Enlightenment The Enlightenment  Eggert Ólafsson ( ): The language is purest in the countryside  Lærdómslistafélagið (1780). “Skal félagið geyma og varðveita Norræna tungu... smíða ný orð... No loan words younger than 13th or 14th century

10 10 19th and 20th century purism and málrækt The people of Iceland have set themselves the goal of preserving their language and to strengthen it. Preserving the Icelandic tongue means keeping up the linguistic tradition from one generation to another, particularly taking care that the relation that has prevailed, and continues to do so, between language and literature from the beginning of writing, will not be jeopardized

11 11 Íslendingar hafa sett sér það mark að varðveita tungu sína og efla hana. Með varðveislu íslenskrar tungu er átt við að halda órofnu samhengi í máli frá kynslóð til kynslóðar, einkum að gæta þess að ekki fari forgörðum þau tengsl sem verið hafa og eru enn milli máls og bókmennta allt frá upphafi ritaldar (Baldur Jónsson, Guðmundur B Kristmundsson, Höskuldur Þráinsson og Indriði Gíslason)

12 12 Björn Guðfinnsson (BG) and his study BG was a lecturer at the university (later professor) BG was a lecturer at the university (later professor) Got a grant to make a survey of Icelandic dialects in the early 1940’s (the survey formed the basis of his doctoral dissertation 1946) Got a grant to make a survey of Icelandic dialects in the early 1940’s (the survey formed the basis of his doctoral dissertation 1946)

13 13 BG’s motivation To make a survey of Icelandic dialects to a. help determine what kind of Icelandic should be used on radio b. help determine what kind of Icelandic should be taught in schools

14 14 The methodology and scope of BG’s investigation a. Children (around 12 years of age) read selected passages and the investigator checked off on a specially pepared card as the children read (see the next slide) b. BG and his assistants travelled all over Iceland and reached some 90% of the 12 year olds (6520 children – about 30% of these from Reykjavík)

15 15 BG’s card

16 16 The regional features investigated by BG Northern features A. “Hard” pronunciation of /p,t,k/ B. Voiced pronunciation of /l,m,n/ before /p,t,k/ C. Stops (labial, velar) before [ð] D. ngl-pronunciation A southern feature E. hv-pronunciation South-eastern features F. Monophthongs before /gi/ [jI] G. rn-, rl-pronunciation A north-western feature H. Monophthongs before /ng, nk/ A sporadic feature (East, South-West, western North) I. “Slack-jawed speech” (“flámæli”)

17 17 What determines the viability of a regional phonological variant? a. How common it is on a national basis? b.How strong it is in its core area? c.Structural considerations (relation to the phonological system)? d. Sociolinguistic considerations (other than mere frequency)?

18 18 The strength of the regional features in the 1940’s on a national basis (and in Reykjavík) regionalmajority mixed variantvariant pron. A hard pron. of /p,t,k/18% (1%)72% (91%) 10% (8%) B voiced pron. of /l,m,n/9% ( 4%) C stop before [ð]3% ( 1%) D ngl-pronunciation ≤5% (≤1%)≥90% (≥95%) ≈5%? (?) E hv-pronunciation15% (9%)74% (77%) 11% (14%) F monophth. bef. /gi/ ([j I] )≤10% (0%)≥80% (94%) ≈10%? (6%) G rn-,rl-pronunciation≤2%(≤1%)≥95%? (≥95%) ≈3%? (?) H monophth. bef. ng/nk≤2% (1%)≥95%? (98%) ≈3%? (1%) I slack-jawed speech 27% (39%)64% (48%) 9% (13%)

19 19 The strenght of the local variants in their core areas regionalmajority mixed variantvariantpron. A hard pron. of /p,t,k/ in Eyjafj. 96% 1% 3% B voiced pron. of /l,m,n/ in Eyjafj 74% 3% 23% C stop before [ð] in S-Þing. 37% 28% 38% D ngl-pronunciation in Húsavík 50% 10%40% E hv-pronunciation in V-Skaft. 91% 1% 8% F monophth. bef. /gi/ in A-Skaft. 68% 0% 32% G rn-,rl-pronunciation in A-Skaft. 41% 56%3% H monophth. bef. /ng,nk/ in N-Ísafj. 36% 4% 60% I slack-jawed speech in S-Múl. 74% 15% 11%

20 20 Regional variants that might have been predicted to do relatively well AThe hard pronunciation of /p,t,k/ (relatively common nationally, strong in its core area – but note that it is weak in Reykjavík) EThe hv-pronunciation (relatively common nationally, strong in its core area – and not unknown in Reykjavík) IThe slack-jawed speech (relatively common nationally, rather strong in its core area – and quite common in Reykjavík)

21 21 Regional variants that might have been predicted to do rather poorly CStops before [ð] (very rare nationally and in Reykjavík, not so strong in its core area) DThe ngl-pronunciation (very rare nationally and in Reykjavík, not particularly strong in its core area, high % of mixed) GThe rn-,rl-pronunciation (very rare nationally and in Reykjavík, not so strong in its core area) HMonophthongs before /ng,nk/ (very rare nationally, not particularly strong in its core area, high % of mixed )

22 22 Regional variants whose fate might have seemed doubtful BThe voiced pronunciation of /l,m,n/ (non uncommon nationally, although it is rare in Reykjavík, quite strong in its core area – but note the high % of “mixed”) FMonophthongs before /gi/ (not uncommon nationally, although it is rare in Reykjavík, but it is not particularly strong in its core area (high % mixed))

23 23 The RÍN methodology a. Interviews (w. the pretense of investigating variable lexical usage) b. Folders with pictures including some to facilitate discussion of lexical variation (see next slide) c. Texts, both general and specialized

24 24 Some RÍN pictures

25 25 Distribution of “hard” pronunciation of /p,t,k/

26 26 Distribution of “voiced” pronunciation of /l,m,n/

27 27 Distribution of stop pronunciation before [ð]

28 28 Distribution of the ngl- pronunciation

29 29 Distribution of the hv- pronunciation

30 30 Distribution of monophthongal pron. before /gi/

31 31 Distribution of monophthongal pron. before /ng, nk/

32 32 Preliminary conclusion Most of the regional variants from the 1940’s can still be found in the same regions. Exceptions: a. The rn-,rl-pronunciation (G) has virtually disappeared b. The “slack-jawed speech” (“flámæli”, I)) is disappearing (cf. below).

33 33 Slowly receding hard pronunciation of /p,t,k/ nationally

34 34 Slowly receding hard prounciation of /p,t,k/ in Northern Iceland

35 35 (Very) fast receding hv-pronunciation and slack-jawed speech (“flámæli”)

36 36 Fast receding stops before [ð] in Northern Iceland

37 37 ngl-pronunciation holding its ground in Northern Iceland

38 38 Very fast receding rn-, rl-pronunciation in the South-East

39 39 Fast receding monophthongs before /ng, nk/ in the North-West (only /a, ö/ considered)

40 40 Fast receding voiced /l,m,n/ in Northern Iceland

41 41 Slowly receding monophthongs before /gi/ in the South-East

42 42 Interim conclusion Simple “majority” does not tell the whole story. Consider also innovations like the ks-pronunciation: vaxa [vaksa] vs. [vaxsa] (see next slide)

43 43 ks-pronunciation

44 44 Questions raised by the RÍN-results a.What determines the varying fate of the regional variants? b.b. Do the changes involve “innovations” by new generations or accommodation?

45 45 Acquiring and accommodating to hv- pronunciation Acquiring hv-pronunciation – and accommodating to it – may be quite complicated (cf. handout). Acquiring kv-pronunciation – and accommodating to it – is much simpler (cf. handout).

46 46 Paradigmatic alternations Paradigmatic alternations may support some regional variants but not others: ngl -pronunciation: engill ‘angel’ and köngull ‘cone’ … have a /g/ [k, c] which may support the ngl-pronunciation of englar, könglar monophthongs before /gi/: haga ‘field(A)’, boga ‘bow(A)’ … have monophthongs which may support the monophthongal pronunciation of forms like hagi, bogi … No such alternation exists to support hv-pronunciation, for instance

47 47 5.Sociolinguistic considerations Social variables: Social variables:  Sex, age, habitation, education...  Markers vs. indicators (Chambers & Trudgill 1980:82ff).

48 Total Education Hard - soft dn / rdn Some correlation with education

49 to 2021 to 4546 to 5556 to 70>70 Harðmæli Harðmæli in Reykjavík

50 50 Possible Social Forces Prestige (e.g. Reykjavík vs. “landsbyggðin”) Prestige (e.g. Reykjavík vs. “landsbyggðin”) Nostalgia vs. innovation Nostalgia vs. innovation Majority vs. minority Majority vs. minority Official recommendation vs. stigmatisation Official recommendation vs. stigmatisation Levelling vs. standardisation (see later) Levelling vs. standardisation (see later)

51 Language planning Narrow sense: Narrow sense: “deliberate, conscious and future-oriented activities aimed at influencing the linguistic repertoire and behavior of speech communities” (Deumert 2001) Broader sense: Broader sense: “as [speakers] communicate in specific settings, they must ‘plan’ their use of language... [I]ndividuals … plan for, and in some cases, plan, the language behaviour of others” (Ager 2001:4) Standardisation vs. dialect levelling, but is there a clear difference? Standardisation vs. dialect levelling, but is there a clear difference?

52 52 Standardisation of Icelandic pronunciation Avoid levelling in favour of less desirable, variants. Avoid levelling in favour of less desirable, variants. Simplify the relation between spelling and pronunciation; make the teaching of reading and writing easier. Simplify the relation between spelling and pronunciation; make the teaching of reading and writing easier. Reference (codex): The written standard. Reference (codex): The written standard.

53 53 Stigmatisation Overtly stigmatised: the flámæli; involves a phonemic merger which would cause problems for retaining the spelling standard Overtly stigmatised: the flámæli; involves a phonemic merger which would cause problems for retaining the spelling standard Less overtly stigmatised (not recommended): [ hapDI ]; The other option [ havDI] is closer to the spelling hafði Less overtly stigmatised (not recommended): [ hapDI ]; The other option [ havDI] is closer to the spelling hafði

54 54 BG’s recommendations (discussion of a directive) I Icelandic pronunciation is to be standardized with a selection of living dialects. I Icelandic pronunciation is to be standardized with a selection of living dialects. IIAt the outset the following variants are recommended: 1) „Correct pronunciation” of vowels 2) hv-pronunciation 3) Hard pronunciation III“Pretty” variables are recommended and could be adopted later: rn/rl-pronunciation, voiced pronunciation. III“Pretty” variables are recommended and could be adopted later: rn/rl-pronunciation, voiced pronunciation.

55 55 6. The varying gains of majority features

56 56 Northern features (Skagafjörður – Norður Þingeyjarsýsla)

57 57 Possible structural effect on the relation of hard and voiced pronunciation Voiced pronunciation and soft pronunciation are incompatible Voiced pronunciation and soft pronunciation are incompatible Soft pron: *Hard stop medially Soft pron: *Hard stop medially Voiced pron: Voiced sonorant + hard stop medially: [vantHa] Voiced pron: Voiced sonorant + hard stop medially: [vantHa]

58 58 Social effects Voicing is weak in northern towns and villages BG mentions hints of stigmatisation of voicing

59 59 Hard pron. and voicing according to BG Strand Skag Siglufj. Eyjafj. Akkureyri Neskaupst A-Skaft Hard Voiced

60 60 More social effects Ngl pronunciation is an indicator (low awareness) Ngl pronunciation is an indicator (low awareness) Stop pronunciation seems to have been frowned upon (inconsistent with spelling) Stop pronunciation seems to have been frowned upon (inconsistent with spelling)

61 61 South-eastern variables

62 62 Structural effects Kv-pronunciation involves a merger, and is therefore “harder” to correct Kv-pronunciation involves a merger, and is therefore “harder” to correct Paradigm levelling: Paradigm levelling: bogi - bogar

63 63 The effects of paradigm levelling? Monophth +gi in the north to 2021 to 4546 to 5556 to 70>71

64 64 Social effects Hv-pronunciation was clearly a marker, whereas monophthong pron. was more neutral. Hv-pronunciation was clearly a marker, whereas monophthong pron. was more neutral. The wrong effect from the point of view of planning The wrong effect from the point of view of planning

65 65 The fate of flámæli

66 66 The reversal of a phonemic merger  /i/ /i//u/ /u/ /I/ /U/ /e/ /e//ö/ /ö/  /i/ /i//u/ /u/ /I/ /U/ /e/ /e//ö/ /ö/

67 67 “Status planning (broad sense)” The flámæli is ousted by the correct dialect in the area

68 68 General conclusion The majority wins (most of the time) The majority wins (most of the time) Structural conditions have some effect Structural conditions have some effect Social forces have a major effect Social forces have a major effect Overt language planning recommendations can have an effect, but not necessarily the intended one. Overt language planning recommendations can have an effect, but not necessarily the intended one.


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