A Sociolinguistic investigation into the use of mutations in Pembrokeshire Welsh
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: A feature of Celtic languages, mutations involve changes to the initial consonant of words, depending on grammatical contexts. There are three types of mutations: Soft Mutation (SM), Nasal Mutation (NM) and Aspirate Mutation (AM). This study examined the use of mutations by first Language Welsh speakers from Pembrokeshire. Aims and Hypothesis: The aims of the study were to investigate the whole mutation system spoken by Welsh speakers from Pembrokeshire in informal and natural conversation. More specifically, to investigate whether or not age had an influence on the amount and type of mutations used. The hypothesis was that the use and variation of all mutations would be weaker in the younger population. Methods and Procedures: Three age groups were tested to asses performance of mutations. A natural and informal conversation between 12 pairs of participants was recorded. Subsequently, mutation application or lack was identified and analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. Results: Results suggested that overall the younger group generally applied fewer mutations and there was variability between the performances of the middle and older age groups across all mutation types. These were in the triggering environments used and the application of mutation subject to these across the three age groups. There were instances where mutations were retained in the radical form, applied unexpectantly and where AM and NM were realised as SM. Conclusions: The study indicated that SM was the strongest mutation, although in decline with younger speakers. AM and NM are in decline amongst all speakers, iv particularly the younger age group. The results suggested that the mutation system is developing, although a change of progress is questionable. Some forms of mutations are used less amongst the speakers used in this study, which may be a result of regional or stylistic variation. The typical pattern of mutation usage regionally was that even educated individuals produced SM and tended not to produce AM and NM as often. Keywords: Welsh mutations, Welsh language, Celtic Languages, bilingualism, first Language acquisition, Pembrokeshire.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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