ALEXANDER J. ELLIS ON MODERN ICELANDIC PRONUNCIATION
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The paper reviews the description of the pronunciation of Modern Icelandic as contained in Alexander J. Ellis' influential treatise on early English pronunciation. This description, first ever attempted in English, is shown to be remarkably accurate in recording phonetic detail even if the system of transcription devised by its author is, from today's perspective cumbersome and inefficient. The phonetic and phonological regularities contained in the description are reviewed and compared with the views found in contemporary studies of Icelandic. Flaws of the description are seen as basically due to the atomistic and letter-based nature of the approach. Ellis' concern with the relevance of the Modern Icelandic phonetics for Old English and the history of English in general is taken to reflect his conviction about the universality of the mechanisms of phonological change.
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