Abigail Cohn acc4 at
Sun Apr 9 11:49:11 UTC 2000

While some phonologists assume that geminates and long consonants are the
same thing, many others don't.  In fact there is both phonological and
phonetic evidence supporting a distinction.  In a recent dissertation,
Phonetic and Phonological Aspects of Geminate Timing, Bill Ham addresses
this question from both a phonological and phonetic point of view
(available from the Cornell Linguistic Circle publications at

Not only might the timing of the segments themselves be different, other
aspects of phonetic timing are organized in a different way in the case of
geminates. The dissertation is cross-linguistic in nature, but does include
a detailed acoustic study of the geminates in Madurese.

Abby Cohn
Cornell University

>>A recent controversy regarding geminates in Tausug (Southern Philippines)
>>has made me realize that some scholars seem to use the terms _geminate_and
>>_long consonant_ as though they were synonymous.
>>I am aware that in some theories (autosegmental phonology?)  both are
>>treated on equal footing.
>>Yet, a double /m/, for instance, is not a long /m/.
>>Has this problem been addressed in Austronesian languages?
>>Jean-Paul G. Potet
>With apologies for the late response.  I agree that _geminate_and _long
>consonant_  seem often to be taken to mean the same thing, when there is a
>fundamental difference between (for example) a) a sequence of two distinct,
>non-long segments, which happen to be identical, but which occupy
>respectively coda and onset of distinct syllables, and b) a truly long
>segment.  The two types could presumably be treated identically only at the
>level of feature sharing, but not at other levels.  Only the latter could
>logically occur in the onset of a syllable.  From memory, I think Korean,
>Hungarian and Pattani Malay may all have the latter.
>Some languages of the Baram (north Sarawak) are said to have phonemic long
>consonants, however the evidence in some cases at least suggests that they
>instead allow sequences of identical consonants, probably only
>hetero-syllabically.  I'm not aware of anything published on this as a
>descriptive/analyitical problem.  Do you have a reference for the Tausug
>(Parallel analytical problems involve truly long vowels vs sequences of
>identical vowels, prenasalised stops vs /N/+/C/ sequences, diphthongs vs
>vowel-vowel or vowel-glide sequences, and so on.)
>Adrian Clynes
>Adrian Clynes
>Department of English Language & Applied Linguistics
>Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam
>Please address mail for me to:  PO Box 594, MPC, BSB 3577, Brunei
>phone: 673-2-249923, wait 3 rings then dial 406;
>fax: 673-2-249528

More information about the An-lang mailing list