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Summary Details


Query:   Vowel/Zero Terms
Author:  Ivan A Derzhanski
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Phonetics

Summary:   Ten days ago I asked (Linguist 14.3103): ''Is there a more or less commonly accepted term in English for a vowel that alternates with zero, as the /o in Russian _rot_ `mouth', pl. _rty_?'' I thank Lev Blumenfeld, Greville Corbett, Karen Davis, Bruce Despain, James Fidelholtz, Irene Gates, Irena Gintilas, Robert Hoberman, Michael Johnstone, Svetoslav Marinov, Ora Matushansky, Kyle Rawlins, And Rosta, Andrew Spencer, Mike Szelog, Gary Toops, R?my Viredaz, Jeroen van de Weijer and Moira Yip for replying to my query. The term `fleeting' was the winner, with 7 votes. The second choice was `jer' or `yer', with 4 votes and with the caveat that it is only applicable to Slavic languages (and not to all of those, nor to all vowel/zero alternations in them), and then only if the audience is already familiar with the background. There were 2 votes for `furtive' and for `evanescent' and 1 for each of the following: `alternating', `epenthetic', `excrescent', `floating', `fugitive', `ghost', `latent', `reduced', `unstable', `vanescent'. Some of these are problematic in various ways. For example, `alternating' doesn't say whether the vowel alternates with zero or with something else; `ghost' has been used for the inverse (a segment identified as vocalic or consonantal, but featurally unspecified, as the French ''_h_ aspir?''); `reduced' also has a dangerous variety of meanings. One respondent brought up the terms `contraction' and `deletion'. The term `spook' was suggested, as an alternative to `ghost'. Finally, R?my Viredaz mentioned the French term `(voyelle) mobile', which puts the English term `movable' (one I had come across) in proper context. - Ivan A Derzhanski

LL Issue: 14.3224
Date Posted: 24-Nov-2003
Original Query: Read original query


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