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On Phonological Constraints: The Long Vowel Rule

From:Nicolas Walker <bitemeagain_walker@...>
Date:Saturday, January 22, 2005, 18:14
Dear All,

I continue to play with a rather odd little phonological constraint, which
despite the fact that it has caused me nothing but trouble since its
conception, I remain unable to shake it! I'd love to hear your suggestions.

The rule states that a long vowel (marked by an acute accent) cannot occur
immediately after a consonant which is proceeded by a long vowel. That is
to say, that the combination 'LV + C + LV' is deemed unacceptable. The
rough reason for this infernal rule is due to the (regular) stress falling
on the first long vowel of a word. Two stressed, long vowels are
considered unweildy and undesirable.

The second part of the rule therefore proposes that should the combination
LV + C + LV occur (as a result of affixation, declension or whatever),
that the first vowel be shortened, causing the sequence SV + C + SV. To
give an example, u:r (=ear) would become uri:r in the plural genitive.
Furthermore, the shift to a short 'o' changes the quality of the vowel -
e.g. ano:r in the locative case is rendered anaro:r.

It was only after enacting the rule that I came accross an infinate number
of little problems, such as consonantal combinations, the length of the
vowel changing word meaning (i.e. how to differentiate a:va (you) and a:va
(sea), and what to do when a 'long prefix' is attached to an inflected
noun...and so on. Can someone suggest something elegant yet more flexible?


Bryan Parry <bajparry@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>