LINGUIST List 3.26

Mon 13 Jan 1992

Disc: Diachronic Lengthening

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  1. Fran Karttunen, Re: 3.22 Diachronic Lengthening
  2. bert peeters, Breaking up of consonant clusters
  3. Dennis Baron, diachronic lengthening

Message 1: Re: 3.22 Diachronic Lengthening

Date: Thu, 9 Jan 1992 9:25:17 GMRe: 3.22 Diachronic Lengthening
From: Fran Karttunen <kartunenuhccux.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
Subject: Re: 3.22 Diachronic Lengthening

Concerning lengthening of words:

There is a substantial area of Finland where clusters of unlike resonants
are not tolerated, and they are broken up by a replication of the
preceding vowel:

silmA > silimA (I can't do an umlaut in email, so the A stands for

kolme > kolome

Now that I think of it, it's not just unlike resonants. A resonant followed
by a stop will behave the same way. Anyway, it's an easy thing to
learn to do and quite infectious. It also feels completely superficial.

In Nantucket, where I grew up, monosyllabic words ending in r were
pronounced as two syllables:

door > dowa (can't do schwas on this keyboard either)

flour > flauwa (homophonous with flower)

beer > biya

there > theiya

As a kid I thought it rather strange but chalked it up to the irrationality
English spelling. Later on Broadcast English and travel away from peripheral
New England showed me that it was a rather localized dialect feature.

Some years later we were living in Los Aneles and speaking Finnish at home
when the following happened:

Our 2 1/2 year old daughter Jaana was watching the Flintstones. Wilma
Flintstone was baking a cake and ran out of flour. Crisis-time while she
dashed to the Rubble household to see if she could borrow a cup. Jaana
turned to me and said in Finnish something along the lines of:

Wilma-tAdillA ei ole kukkia. 'Wilma-aunt doesn't have any flowers.'

"My god," I thought, "she's translating!" Then I wondered whether Wilma
pronounces flour/flower as one-syllable words or two-syllable words,
but the episode was over, and I couldn't bring myself to watch more
shows and figure out Flintstone dialectology.

Fran Karttunen
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Message 2: Breaking up of consonant clusters

Date: Fri, 10 Jan 92 9:44:32 ESTBreaking up of consonant clusters
From: bert peeters <>
Subject: Breaking up of consonant clusters

> Date: Thu, 9 Jan 92 14:06:07 EST
> From: (Jacques Guy)
> I vaguely remember having read somewhere that Russian did such a thing,
> that is, break up consonant clusters.

Spoken French (which tends to drop schwas all over the place) does it as
well, by adding those schwas back in again wherever clusters tend to
become unpronounceable, even in instances where the schwa is not reflected
in writing.

E.g. ours blanc (white bear) -- pronounced as [ursbla~]
 Arc de Triomphe -- pronounced as [arkdtrjo~f]
 je ne le sais pas -- pronounced in various ways, but surely not with
	all three schwas present, nor with none of them.
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Message 3: diachronic lengthening

Date: Thu, 9 Jan 92 8:48:12 CST diachronic lengthening
From: Dennis Baron <>
Subject: diachronic lengthening

An example of diachronic lenghtening in present-day varieties
of English might be the various attempts to reinforce the
plurality of 2nd person _you_. This form, itself a plural
that moved into the 2 pers. sg. pronoun slot as well, seems
for many speakers to need a plural reinforcement. Hence
such forms as _youse_, _y'all_, and the latest in the
series, _you guys_.

Although _y'all_ and _youse_ speakers frequently assert these
forms cannot be used in the singular, or if they are used as
sgs., they carry the sense `you [sg.] + anyone else you care
to include,' it is easy enough to locate uses where the sg.
is undisputable. In any case, _youse_ is frequently lengthened
by the addition of _guys_. _Y'all_ becomes in some instances
_all y'all_, when plurality needs to be specified. And of
course plain old vanilla _you_ > _you guys_ just about uni-
versally, at least among the college-age crowd.

_Youse_ and _y'all_ seem compressed enough and for a sufficiently
long time to count as single words. What happens to _you guys_
remains to be seen--I can't imagine a phonological contraction of
this form (though the clipped _guys_ as a vocative is frequent
enough). Are we seeing the development of a two word pronoun
-- ____________ 217-333-2392
 |:~~~~~~~~~~:| fax: 217-333-4321
Dennis Baron |: :|
Dept. of English |: db :|
Univ. of Illinois |: :|
608 S. Wright St. |:==========:|
Urbana IL 61801 \\ """""""" \
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