pretonic lengthening of vowels

gilzard gilzard at ORANGE.FR
Tue Feb 21 17:21:36 UTC 2012

I noticed that phenomenon 50 years ago in the local form of the  
Persian language spoken in Sistan. I mentioned it in the journal  
Studia Iranica, vol.3, 1974, p. 66 and 67 (G. Lazard, "Morphologie du  
verbe dans le parler persan du Sistan"), ex. mrāso "I arrive" (final  
accent, long  ā), but nmeraso "I do not arrive" (initial accent,  
short a). I have not seen it in any other Iranian language.

Gilbert Lazard
49 av. de l'Observatoire, F-15014 Paris

gilzard at

Le 21 févr. 12 à 10:21, David Gil a écrit :

> Henning's description of Standard Russian sounds rather like  
> western dialects of Colloquial Indonesian (even down to the  
> misperception by foreigners), as described in ...
> Gil, David (2006) "Intonation and Thematic Roles in Riau  
> Indonesian", in C.M. Lee, M. Gordon, and D. Büring eds., Topic and  
> Focus, Cross-Linguistic Perspectives on Meaning and Intonation,  
> Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy 82, Springer, Dordrecht, 41-68.
> .. though with the following qualifications:
> 1. the accent (which is always on the last syllable) is phrasal,  
> ie. it is on the last syllable of the phrase, not the word;
> 2. the lengthening of the penultimate syllable is optional, and  
> would seem to bear some kind of discourse function;
> 3. there is no vowel reduction in Indonesian, so the vowel  
> lengthening is not meant to "save" a syllable from reduction (which  
> is why I did not respond to the original query).
> David
>> Kaan'echn@! Standard Russian is a language that distributes its  
>> stress over accented and pretonic syllable, the latter typically  
>> being as long or longer than the accented syllable (and often  
>> heard as the accented syllable by foreigners), By being long(er)  
>> pretonic vowels escape the vowel reduction that affects all other  
>> unaccented syllables—with the exception of vowels in absolute  
>> initial position. Hence osnova [asn'ova], osnovnoj [asnavn'oj],  
>> obosoblenie [ab at sablenie], etc.
>> This iambic distribution of duration in feet is actually a  
>> commonplace. Your key word is metrical phonology.
>> Good luck with your work!
>> Henning Andersen
>> Quoting Sergey Lyosov <sergelyosov at>:
>>> 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.
> -- 
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistics
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
> Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
> Email: gil at
> Webpage:

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