Tomas Riad, waf 2015

Tomas Riad


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at The Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism
Telephone 08-16 36 38
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D
Room D 551
Postal address Inst. för svenska och flerspråkighet 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Tomas Riad

Professor of Nordic languages, Department of Swedish language and multilingualism at Stockholm University, since 2005, member of the Swedish Academy since 2011 (chair nr. 6).  


Ongoing projects

1. Intensive education in Swedish for school-age new arrivals (2016–2019) 

Intensive education in Swedish for new arrivals is a three-year long development project aimed as school and teaching. The purpose is to support integration of new arrivals in secondary and upper secondary school. We develop a teaching model which will support the path for newly arrived pupils to advance in education and professional life. 

Bild från Photo: Maria Lim Falk

Project management 

The project is managed by scholars at the Department of Swedish language and multilingualism, Stockholm University. The project leading group consists of Maria Lim Falk (project leader), Tomas Riad, Monica Karlsson, Helena Bani-ShorakaAnn Boglind and Gustav Westberg.

Grant givers and organisation

The project has come about as a cooperation between the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (main financier), the Swedish Academy (initiative, principal), Stockholm University (co-financier) and the Department of Swedish language and multilingualism, Stockholm University (co-financier).

The project is part of a larger educational program run by the Wallenberg foundations Utbildning för ökad integration, which includes also the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences​ (KVA) and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA).

2. Scanian and Danish intonation systems. The transition from North Germanic to West Germanic. (VR 2017–2019)

The project is led by Sara Myrberg, Lund University. We look at how the intonation of Swedish and Danish resemble each other, and at how they differ in order to better understand general similarities and differences between North and West Germanic languages. Scanian and Danish appear to form a transition area which should give us clues as to how the different intonation systems relate to one another.  


My main research interests are phonology, prosody, verse metrics, historical linguistics and morphology.

Prosody and morphology

In Swedish, prosody plays an important role in morphological structure. Many morphemes are lexically specified for prosodic information. They may be stressed (tonic), or require to be next to a stressed syllable (posttonic, pretonic). These properties determine how morphemes can combine with each other, to some extent. I've written about this in the monograph Prosodin i svenskans morfologi (2015, Morfem förlag) and in the article Culminativity, stress and tone accent in Central Swedish (Lingua 2012). Prosodic morphology is also important in nickname formation, cf. Svensk smeknamnsfonologi (2002) and Smeknamnet är redan givet (Språktidningen 2016).

Prosody and verse metrics

Verse metrics is usually described in other terms than the prosodic ones, but there is much to gain from looking at meter from a prosodic, linguistic perspective. My general approach to meter is to try and reduce as much as possible to regular grammar. The fact that grammar (phonology) is involved is obvious already in the observation that the metrics used in a language always has to obey the phonology of the language. A recent contribution in this area is The phonology of Tashlhiyt Berber songs (NLLT 2016). Other works include The phonology of Greek meter (with Chris Golston, Linguistics 2005), Accents left and right (2009) and Sköna och osköna ljud i skönlitteraturen (2013).

Prosody and language history

I first started out in this are as a graduate student. My doctoral dissertation, Structures in Germanic prosody (1992), is a reconstruction of the stress system at various stages of the Germanic language history and the sound changes that are prosodically motivated.

After finishing my PhD, I started working on the tone accent distinction that is characteristic of Swedish and Norwegian. This work resulted in a number of articles concerning the origin of accents in North Germanic and their historical development: The origin of Scandinavian tone accents (Diachronica 1998), Historien om tonaccenten (2005), and also a couple of articles regarding the origin of Danish stød and how it relates to the tone accent systems: Origin of Danish stød 2000a, Stöten som aldrig blev av 2000b.

I have also worked on the typology of tone accent, that is, how the various dialects realize the tone accent distinction. The tone accents is the main feature used to divide Swedish and Norwegian into major dialect areas (Remarks on the Scandinavian accent typology 1998, Scandinavian accent typology, STUF 2006, The phonological typology of North Germanic accent, in press).


I am the author of the monograph The phonology of Swedish (2014, Oxford University Press). In that book I go over the segmental and prosodic properties of the language. I've also written a couple of compendia for students on this subject: Svenskt fonologikompendium (1997) and Artikulatorisk fonetik (2002).


Within morphology proper, I have written the article Den dära och sånt därnt (2006) in the Festschrift for Staffan Hellberg (my advisor), and the compendium Ordbetydelser (2004).


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2016. Tomas Riad. Natural language and linguistic theory

    I present an analysis of Tashlhiyt Berber meter, based on the corpus of ‘straight’ meters collected and analyzed by Dell and Elmedlaoui (2008). There are 56 meters (35 independent, 21 dependent), which are systematically related to each other. Based on the many shared properties of all straight meters and their individual inflexibility, I suggest that they all derive from the same general metrical template, much in the same way as proposed by Deo (2007) for several Sanskrit meters. The individual meters are thus different realizations of the general meter, where the modulation of line length is part of the realizational variation (unlike the case in Sanskrit). I also argue that the generalizations pertaining to the system of meters can be better understood, and more broadly formulated, in terms of the phonology of the language, in three areas. First, the Tashlhiyt straight meters are rhythmic in a very specific sense: they all obey NO CLASH . Several previously unconnected facts—verse foot shapes, avoidance of two heavy syllables in sequence, and the regular alternation of verse feet—follow from this single fact. Second, the meters are pervasively binary, with a strong preference for tetrameter, a fact that is not predicted by models where line length is stipulated (e.g. Hanson and Kiparsky 1996; Fabb and Halle 2008). Line length tendencies follow from the linguistic constraints on binarity, under the assumption that metrical templates are derived from the prosodic hierarchy, rather than externally, e.g. from a specific meter-generating module (e.g. Kiparsky 1977; Blumenfeld 2015). This would indicate that meter is derived from grammar in just the same way as prosodic morphemes. Third, and related to the second point, the regular prosody and the meter are simultaneously present in a line of verse, a common assumption. However, the fact that both structures come out of the linguistic grammar means that grammar operates in both domains (like in root-and-pattern morphology), rather than there being a matching between them. Meter obeys some constraint to a higher degree than does regular prosody, instantiating overall improvement in the particular respect addressed by the chosen constraint. In the straight meters of Tashlhiyt Berber, this privileged constraint is NO CLASH  (as also in Tegnér’s Swedish hexameter), whereas in other systems the constraint may concern e.g. the alignment of prominence at some level (Darío’s Spanish alexandrines, Strindberg’s Swedish hexameter).

  • 2015. Tomas Riad.
  • 2015. Sara Myrberg, Tomas Riad. Nordic Journal of Linguistics 38 (2), 115-147

    We give an overview of the phonological properties and processes that define the categories of the prosodic hierarchy in Swedish: the PROSODIC WORD (omega), the PROSODIC PHRASE (phi) and the INTONATION PHRASE (iota). The separation of two types of tonal prominence, BIG ACCENTS versus SMALL ACCENTS (previously called FOCAL and WORD ACCENT, e.g. Bruce 1977, 2007), is crucial for our analysis. The omega in Swedish needs to be structured on two levels, which we refer to as the minimal omega and the maximal omega, respectively. The minimal omega contains one stress, whereas the maximal. contains one accent. We argue for a separate category phi that governs the distribution of big accents within clauses. The iota governs the distribution of clause-related edge phenomena like the INITIALITY ACCENT and right-edge boundary tones as well as the distribution of NUCLEAR BIG ACCENTS.

  • 2014. Tomas Riad. Fun and Puzzles in Modern Scandinavian Studies, 123-141
  • 2014. Tomas Riad.
  • 2013. Tomas Riad. Det sköna med skönlitteraturen, 131-165
  • 2013. Tomas Riad, Sara Myrberg. Nordic prosody, 255-264
  • 2014. Tomas Riad, José Ignacio Hualde. Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Speech Prosody, 668-672

    We examine the realization of word accent contrasts in Standard Latvian and East Aukštaitian Lithuanian across intonational contexts. In our Latvian data the contrast is manifested as level vs. falling pitch in most contexts, in addition to a durational difference. In Aukštaitian Lithuanian, instead, differences in vowel quality and duration cue the lexical contrast in the nuclei that we examine. While Latvian retains a tonal contrast, in Aukštaitian Lithuanian it has been replaced with a combined segmental/quantitative contrast, where the so-called circumflex tone corresponds to relatively shorter duration and, in the case of diphthongs, centralized quality in the first half. We discuss the implications of these findings for further typological work.

  • 2009. Tomas Riad. Proceedings Fonetik 2009 Stockholm, 12-17
  • 2009. Tomas Riad. Nordic Prosody
  • 2007. Tomas Riad.
  • 2006. Tomas Riad.
  • 2006. Tomas Riad. STUF -- Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 59 (1), 36-55
  • 2005. Chris Golston, Tomas Riad. Journal of Linguistics 41, 77-115
  • 2004. Tomas Riad. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 16 (2), 173–202
  • 2002. Tomas Riad. Studia Anthroponymica Scandinavica 20, 51–98
  • 2000. Chris Golston, Tomas Riad. Linguistics 38 (1), 99–167
Show all publications by Tomas Riad at Stockholm University

Last updated: May 28, 2019

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