pretonic lengthening of vowels

Sergey Lyosov sergelyosov at INBOX.RU
Mon Feb 20 19:12:21 UTC 2012

Dear typologists,
could somebody answer a question related to historical phonology?
The vocalism of the Hebrew Bible displays what is called “Vortondehnung,” lengthening of a short vowel in the pretonic open syllable. Admittedly, the language did so in order to “save” the respective vowel from the deletion that came about at a certain time point. Note that the pretonic [a] is usually lengthened, while the pretonic [i] and [u] are deleted. A simplified example is as follows: the Proto-Semitic *kabíd ‘heavy’ (the stress is on the last syllable) appears in Biblical Hebrew as kaabíd, while in Biblical Aramaic it is kbid.
     Do we know, cross-language, more cases of vowel lengthening meant to save a pretonic open-syllable short vowel from deletion?      
     With all best wishes,
             Sergey Loesov

Oriental Institute
Russian State University for the Humanities
6 Miusskaya pl. Moscow 125267, Russia.      

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