the pronunciation of the autonomous

We know from The Irish of West Muskerry that Amhlaoibh Ó Loinsigh pronounced the present and future autonomous endings broad and the conditional and imperfect autonomous endings slender:

glantar, buailtear: /glɑntər, buəlʹtər/
glanfar, buailfear: /glɑnfər, buəlʹfər/
glanfaí, buailfí: /glɑnfʹi:, buəlʹfʹi:/
glantaí, buailtí: /glɑntʹi:, buəlʹtʹi:/

However, it is likely that the original pronunciations were rather, those indicated by the spellings.

Some indication of the pronunciations preferred by PUL is shown by the spellings in this works. There is always a question of whether an editor has intervened and changed his preferences, but I notice this letter from PUL to Gearóid Ó Nualláin, quoted in his autobiography, Beatha Dhuine a Thoil (pages 137-138):

I have never heard, e.g., buailfear. What I have heard is buailfar, with the l slender and the f as broad as it is in ólfair. But I have always heard buailtear. I dare say some people have heard buailtar. If they have, then they ought to write buailtar, and then we should know that they have heard it.

Interestingly, PUL clearly does not have the same pronunciation as AÓL in the present autonomous. We may write PUL’s choices thus:

glantar, buailtear: /glɑntər, buəlʹtʹər/
glanfar, buailfear: /glɑnfər, buəlʹfər/

However, PUL consistently wrote curtar and curfar for what would nowadays be cuirtar and cuirfar. It seems clear that he did have a broad rt and rf in both of these words: /kurtər, kurfər/.

In the conditional autonomous PUL’s works are less consistent, with both -faí and -fí found in spelling. But the slender -fí in aithneófí /a’nʹho:fʹi:/ points to a slender pronunciation across the board. Note that he wrote both curfaí and curfí, but probably had a slender rf in this word, /kur’fʹi:/.

In the imperfect autonomous PUL consistently used a slender ending. Note the spellings curtí /kur’tʹi:/ and ceannaítí /kʹa’ni:tʹi:/ (ceannuightí in the original spelling).

So it seems that PUL had the following:

glanfaí, buailfí: /glɑnfʹi:, buəlʹfʹi:/
glantaí, buailtí: /glɑntʹi:, buəlʹtʹi:/


About dj1969

at the conservative end of the libertarian spectrum
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