Geoff Davis mixcoatl at gmail.com
Sat May 24 03:06:07 UTC 2008

On 5/23/08, Kier Salmon <k_salmon at ipinc.net> wrote:
> I'm finding "long" and "short" confusing, I think
> because I   instinctively pronounce nahuatl in
> spanish.  And I have no sound model  to use.

Based upon your examples, I'm assuming you're
comparing long English vowels (ay vs. ah) to, for
example, Spanish vowels.

The length distinction has mostly disappeared
from English, now, and previously long vowels have
changed position in the vocal tract so they're still
distinct. Therein lies the confusion, I believe.

English "long" vowels are no longer truly long.

I've read that this has happened in some modern
Nahuatl dialects too (tense/lax distinction, etc.)

Classically speaking, though, the Nahuatl length
distinction is a /true/ length distinction. This means
that /a:/ is the same vocal quality as /a/, but held
slightly longer.

Hope this helps. :D


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