Dialect variation in Scottish Gaelic nominal morphology: A quantitative study

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This paper presents a dialectometric analysis of Scottish Gaelic morphology, with a focus on the noun phrase, using previously unpublished data from the Linguistic Survey of Scotland. Fifty-five morphological features were extracted across 201 survey points, and the data subjected to a variety of analyses, including cluster analysis, regression, and correlation analysis. We establish that the Gaelic noun system shows robust diatopic (i. e. geographical) variation; this challenges previous assertions in the literature, which describe Gaelic morphosyntax as geographically uniform. In addition, we argue that our dialectometric results provide an insight into the grammatical structure of the language that is not easily achievable through the analysis of individual varieties. In particular, we argue that the results highlight a dissociation between morphological categories such as case and gender and their morphophonological exponents, which are particularly complex in Scottish Gaelic. The paper thus serves as a proof of concept for the use of dialectometric findings in a theoretical context.
Original languageEnglish
Article number130
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalGlossa: A Journal of General Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020


  • Scottish Gaelic
  • morphology
  • dialectology
  • dialectometry
  • Celtic studies


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