Initial Consonant Mutation (definition)

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A phonological phenomena in which the first consonant in a word changes due to its surrounding phonological, morphological, or syntactic environment. In Gaelic, Lenition is the primary initial consonant mutation, though Eclipsis also occurs. Lenition is typically indicated by adding an orthographic <h> after the first consonant. The phonological effects of lenition are: coronals become debuccalized, stops become fricatives, /f/ deletes, slender sonorants become broad. For example, the adjective mòr /mo:r/ "big" becomes mhòr /vo:r/ after a feminine noun.

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  • Lamb, William (2003) Scottish Gaelic. 2nd edition. Munich: Lingcom Europa