McIntosh-Patterson PhD Studentship beneficiaries


The first McIntosh-Patterson PhD Studentship recipient, Jade Sandstedt

2015-2018 Studentship

The first McIntosh-Patterson PhD Studentship was awarded to Jade (Jørgen) Michael Sandstedt.

Jade holds an M.A. in Norse philology from the Universities of Oslo and Iceland, and a B.A. in linguistics and Nordic languages from the University of Minnesota.  He is taking up his studies here at Edinburgh in Autumn, 2015.

Jade is undertaking a corpus study of the development and variation of vowel harmony in Old Norwegian.

Here is a brief overview of his research project:

Vowel harmony is a phenomenon in which the vowels within a word or other domain show systematic agreement for some property. From the earliest centuries with documented writing on parchment (ca. 12th century) to around the end of the 14th century, typologically rare forms of vowel harmony are attested in Old Norwegian texts (Sandstedt 2014; Parkinson 1996; Paster 2004). The orthographic patterns of vowel harmonic processes in Old Norwegian texts have been frequently studied in the traditional descriptive philological literature (Keyser & Unger 1849; Hægstad 1899; Seip 1955; Hødnebø 1977; among others), while thorough linguistic investigations of the phenomena have been far more limited (Hagland 1978; Rajić 1980; Majors 1998).

The conditions during and following the evolution and dissolution of Norwegian vowel harmony are well attested in an increasingly digitized corpus of manuscript material, and this material provides a unique opportunity for studying phonological changes in progress over the course of many generations. However, precise phonological elicitations from medieval text material remain challenging due to variable inaccuracies and inconsistencies in Old Norwegian orthography, and the vowel harmony systems’ development, dialectal variation, and decay in medieval Norway are still not adequately documented or understood. The goal of this current project is to provide more accurate quantitative methods for obtaining and confirming reliable phonological data from historical texts, and to use these methods to model the geographic and historical variation exhibited in the corpus. Using these models, the trajectory of changes which led to the development of Old Norwegian’s rare vowel harmony patterns will be investigated.


Hagland, Jan Ragnar. 1978. A note on Old Norwegian vowel harmony. Nordic Journal of Linguistics 1, 141–47.

Hægstad, Marius. 1899. Gamalt trøndermaal: Upplysningar um maalet i Trønderlag fyrr 1350 og ei utgreiding um vokalverket. Kristiania: Dybwad.

Hødnebø, Finn. 1977. Trykk – vokalharmoni – vokalbalanse. In Einar G. Pétursson, Jónas Kristjánsson (eds.), Sjötiu ritgerðir helgaðar Jakobi Benediktssyni. 20 júli 1977, 375–83. Fyrri hluti. Reykjavík: Stofnun Árna Magnússonar.

Keyser, Rudolf, and Carl Richard Unger. 1849. Olafs saga hins helga. En kort Saga om Kong Olaf den hellige fra anden Halvdeel af det tolfte Aarhundrede. Efter et gammelt Pergaments-Haandskrift i Universitets-Bibliotheket i Upsala, tilligemed et Anhang, indeholdende Brudstykker af et endnu ældre Haandskrift af samme Konges Saga i Det norske Rigsarkiv, samt Anmærkninger, Ord- og Navne-Register. Christiania: Feilberg & Landmarks Forlag.

Majors, Tivoli. 1998. A perceptually grounded OT analysis of stress-dependent harmony. In Proceedings of the 4th Annual Southwest Workshop on Optimality Theory: SWOT IV, 29–42. Tucson: University of Arizona.

Parkinson, Frederick. 1996. The Representation of Vowel Height in Phonology. Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University.

Paster, Mary. 2004. Vowel height harmony and blocking in Buchan Scots. Phonology, 21(3), 359–407.

Rajić, Ljubiša. 1980. Gammelnorsk vokalharmoni i språktypologisk belysning. In Even Hovdhaugen (ed.), The Nordic Languages and Modern Linguistics, 315–22. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Sandstedt, Jade Jørgen. 2014. Old Norwegian Vowel Harmony: A Quantitative Graphemic-Phonological Analysis. M.A. dissertation, University of Oslo.

Seip, Didrik Arup. 1955. Norsk språkhistorie til omkring 1370. 2nd edn. Oslo: Aschehoug.