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Poster: Daniel

Language Contact and Transmission in the Welsh Language

Adam Daniel

My research examines the diachronic effects of English and Latin language contact with Welsh in the scope of van Coetsem’s Theory of the Transmission Process in Language Contact (van Coetsem: 2000). Analyzing phonological transfer through loanword adaptation and stratum effects, my work seeks to answer three main questions: how do shifts in linguistic dominance motivate loanword adaptation, how do these shifts impact change in the phonological profile of Welsh, and how might continued English contact influence future changes. The methodology for this project has involved investigating Welsh loanwords from the sixth century to the present and consulting works by Celtic language scholars Filppula (2008), Flohr (2013), Rhys (1877), and Schrijver (1995) to determine processes and types of change. Results from the data show that loanwords adapted to Welsh phonology prior to the twentieth century, for example Latin viridis ‘green’ modifies to gwyrdd in Welsh (Gregor: 1980). Furthermore, as Welsh speakers have become more linguistically dominant in English, patterns reflect that modern loanwords often ignore phonological standards and introduce new sounds into the language like the voiced postalveolar affricate in jîns for ‘jeans’. Overall, this concludes that source and recipient language agentivity greatly influence phonological adaptations in language. Although research regarding Welsh loanwords has been previously investigated by others, the innovation of this research incorporating a practical application of van Coetsem’s theory on a diachronic scale serves to expand comprehension of phonological transfer processes by elaborating the role of external language change as precipitated by individual speakers via contact situations.




Coetsem, Frans van. 2000. A general and unified theory of the transmission process in language contact. Heidelberg: Winter.

Filppula, Markku, Juhani Klemola, and Heli Paulasto. 2008. English and Celtic in contact. New York, NY: Routledge.

Flohr, Harald. 2013. The phenomenon of language contact – English influence on Irish and Welsh found in the translations of Rowling’s Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone. Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie. 60(1). 65-116

Gregor, Douglas Bartlett. 1980. Celtic: a comparative study of the six Celtic languages: Irish, Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, Breton seen against the background of their history, literature, and destiny. New York, NY: The Oleander Press.

Rhys, John. 1877. Lectures on Welsh philology. London, UK: Trübner & Co., Ludgate Hill.

Schrijver, Peter J. 1995. Studies in British Celtic historical phonology. 1st edn. by R S P Beekes, A Lubotsky, and J J S Weitenberg. Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi B V.