Anna Laoide-Kemp

Thesis title: Initial consonant mutation in Irish


I have a diverse academic background, having initially studied theoretical physics and mathematics in university before moving into linguistics for my master's degree. While doing my master's, I became interested in the phenomenon of initial consonant mutation in the Celtic languages.  I wrote my MPhil dissertation on this topic, looking at how interactions between grammatical modules could be modelled within the framework of Optimality Theory. I am currently working towards a PhD, continuing my research into the theory of Celtic initial consonant mutation, but this time with a focus on whether it could be compatible with a modular approach to grammar.


MPhil Linguistics (Trinity College Dublin): An Optimality Theory Approach to Initial Consonant Mutation in Modern Irish

MASt Mathematics (University of Cambridge)

BA (Hons) Theoretical Physics (Trinity College Dublin): Nonlinear Electromagnetism in General Relativity

Responsibilities & affiliations

Co-chair of LELPGC22 (6th-8th June 2022)

General Secretary of Language Lunch @ Edinburgh (2021-2022)

Undergraduate teaching

In 2022/23 I am tutoring on the following courses:

  • LEL2A: Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (LASC08017)
  • PPLS Skills Centre: one-on-one academic writing appointments

In 2021/22 I tutored on the following courses:

  • LEL1B: Linguistics and English Language 1B (LASC08023)
  • LEL2D: Cross-Linguistic Variation: Limits and Theories (LASC08020)

Research summary

Linguistic theory, Celtic linguistics, phonology, morphology, modularity, interactions between grammatical modules

Current research interests

I am studying initial consonant mutation (ICM) in Irish and the other Celtic languages. ICM consists of the systematic phonological alternation of word-initial consonants in a range of morphosyntactically defined environments. It is of interest to theoretical linguistics because of its apparent incompatibility with a modular approach to grammar: that is, the view that components such as phonology, morphology and syntax operate without reference to one another. My PhD project begins with the most restrictive hypothesis - namely, that these modules are distinct and independent from one another - and investigates whether the Irish ICM data is consistent with this hypothesis. So far, the results of my analysis suggest that the Irish ICM is not necessarily incompatible with a strictly modular grammatical system, although some additional assumptions may need to be made.


I co-chaired the Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference 2022 (LELPGC22), which was held in the University of Edinburgh, 6th-8th June 2022.

Papers delivered

I presented a poster entitled "Irish initial consonant mutations: disentangling phonology from morphosyntax" at ACTL summer school 2022 in York.