Regarding phonology

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bivur
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Regarding phonology

Postby bivur » 2017-02-04, 0:27

I wonder if Estonians actually distinguish between long and overlong syllables in a casual or rapid speech? Or do they only distinguish between short and long syllables in a rapid speech and between all three lengths in a formal/slow speech?

Also, is it true that in falling pitch is realised in overlong syllables and level pitch in short and long syllables? Other sources state that rising/falling pitch is realised in overlong syllables and rising pitch in long syllables. So it's a bit confusing...

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ainurakne
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby ainurakne » 2017-02-04, 7:51

I'd like to think that we always distinguish between them. At least that's what my brain tries to do, even if my vocal apparatus may not always succeed. :lol:
But seriously, I always recognize all the overlong and non-overlong syllables because I know all the words they are in. So I can't say whether they actually sound correctly or not, but I think they mostly do. Maybe a non-native who has heard Estonians speaking can give a more certain answer.

Unfortunately I can't help you about the pitch. I have also read about the "pitch thingy" in Estonian overlong quite recently, but I have never learned anything about pitch in school nor in later life, so I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to hear.
I have always thought that overlong induced some kind of "soft" pause or break, something similar to what can be heard between the components of compound words, but maybe less prominent. At least it seems so when there are consonants involved in the overlong part.
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Linguaphile
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby Linguaphile » 2017-02-04, 17:25

bivur wrote:I wonder if Estonians actually distinguish between long and overlong syllables in a casual or rapid speech? Or do they only distinguish between short and long syllables in a rapid speech and between all three lengths in a formal/slow speech?

As far as I know they are distinguished in all speech, whether rapid/casual or formal/slow. I can definitely hear the difference between long and overlong in a word like linna, for example, no matter how quickly the word is said. There are many situations in which the meaning of the word is changed by the length, and although I suppose you could figure out the meaning from context (which is what you have to do in written Estonian anyway), in spoken Estonian the phonological difference is still usually or always heard.

Some examples:
kabi/kapi/kappi
short kabi 'hoof' (nominative singular) / long kapi 'cabinet' (genitive singular) / overlong kappi ' cabinet' (partitive singular)
kalu/kaalu/kaalu
short kalu 'fish' (partitive plural) / long kaalu 'weight' (genitive singular) / overlong kaalu 'weight' (partitive singular)
koli/kooli/kooli
short koli 'trash' (nom/gen/part singular) / long kooli 'school' (genitive singular) / overlong kooli 'into the school' (illative singular)
lina/linna/linna
short lina 'flax' (nom/gen/part singular) / long linna 'town' (genitive singular) / overlong linna 'into the town' (illative/partitive singular)
löma/lööma/lööma
short löma 'smashed ooze' (nom/gen/part singular) / long lööma 'fight, brawl' (genitive singular) / overlong lööma 'to hit' (infinitive verb)
nöbi/nööbi/nööpi
short nöbi 'stubby' / long nööbi 'button' (genitive singular) / overlong nööpi 'button' (illative/partitive singular)

Whether or not the distinction is always or just usually audible, I can't really say (although I know there are studies out there where linguistics have measured length and if I remember correctly they've found that there is indeed a difference even in rapid speech). There are times when it's a bit difficult for me to tell if a syllable is long or overlong. I tend to blame this on my ears as a non-native listener, not on the speaker's pronunciation. As a native English-speaker my ears are not accustomed to listening for differences in length to distinguish meaning. (This is especially true when the syllable involves an overlong vowel sound. Overlong consonant sounds are easier for me to distinguish from long consonants.)
I think that not distinguishing between them in speech would be considered a foreign accent rather than "casual" speech.
I like Ainurakne's comparison to the pronunciation of compound words. I've never seen it described that way before but it makes a lot of sense to me and fits with what I've heard.
Related to that, Robert Harms in his book Estonian Grammar (which is more of an academic work focusing on phonology, rather than a typical grammar) describes the overlong syllables as having 'postposed stress'. In other words, he claims that overlong syllables have a 'secondary stress' on either the vowel or consonant following the vowel with primary stress. This view is not widely shared (and the idea of consonants carrying stress is rather unorthodox) and personally I doubt that this is a linguistically accurate way to describe it; but I do think the fact that Harms perceived it this way helps a bit with understanding how the words are pronounced. I think Harms with his 'postposed stress' and Ainurakne's comment about compound words are essentially describing the same thing.... in words with overlong consonants there is a slight change, whether you call it a pause or a secondary stress or a stressed consonant, that is similar to the way a word with two semantic parts is pronounced.

bivur wrote:Also, is it true that in falling pitch is realised in overlong syllables and level pitch in short and long syllables? Other sources state that rising/falling pitch is realised in overlong syllables and rising pitch in long syllables. So it's a bit confusing...

With this one, I'm really not sure. I suspect that it depends on the speaker and that any given speaker might not be consistent with it either. To the best of my knowledge pitch isn't a significant distinguishing factor at the syllable level (unless maybe this distinction is something really, really subconscious).
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Naava
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby Naava » 2017-02-05, 8:52

Linguaphile wrote:I think that not distinguishing between them in speech would be considered a foreign accent rather than "casual" speech

I had a native Estonian teacher who said once that her dialect has only short and overlong consonants/vowels. Does ainurakne know anything about this? Her Finnish wasn't super good (tbh I was never quite sure when she was speaking in Finnish and when in Estonian, it sounded the same anyway... :D) so it might be that I understood her wrong or she didn't know how to say what she meant. I don't know where she was from, so I can't tell you what dialect she had.

Does anyone know where I could listen to these words Linguaphile listed? I'm not exactly sure if I know what the difference is between long and overlong syllables.
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby Linguaphile » 2017-02-05, 16:25

Last edited by Linguaphile on 2017-02-05, 22:25, edited 4 times in total.
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby Linguaphile » 2017-02-05, 16:46

Naava wrote:I had a native Estonian teacher who said once that her dialect has only short and overlong consonants/vowels. Does ainurakne know anything about this? Her Finnish wasn't super good (tbh I was never quite sure when she was speaking in Finnish and when in Estonian, it sounded the same anyway... :D) so it might be that I understood her wrong or she didn't know how to say what she meant. I don't know where she was from, so I can't tell you what dialect she had.

I have heard this about the northeastern coastal dialects from the area around Haljala and Vihula, although I was under the impression the regional dialects weren't really spoken in that area anymore (replaced by the standard dialect). Did she speak without differentiating long/overlong herself or was she just saying that was the way people used to speak in her dialect? In any case I think that you probably understood correctly what she told you, but I think it's not that common today.
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

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ainurakne
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby ainurakne » 2017-02-05, 19:41

Naava wrote:Does ainurakne know anything about this?
Nope, sorry!

Naava wrote:Does anyone know where I could listen to these words Linguaphile listed? I'm not exactly sure if I know what the difference is between long and overlong syllables.
I think, Estonian overlong is actually pretty similar to Finnish long sound - at least that's exactly how I pronounce long sounds in Finnish. :lol:
So, Estonian long sounds are what's really different between the languages.

Linguaphile wrote:I have heard this about the northeastern coastal dialects from the area around Haljala and Vihula, although I was under the impression the regional dialects weren't really spoken in that area anymore (replaced by the standard dialect).
I have spent quite many summers exactly in the area around Haljala and Vihula in my youth, and I can't remember hearing anything significantly different from the standard language.
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby Linguaphile » 2017-02-05, 21:14

ainurakne wrote:
Linguaphile wrote:I have heard this about the northeastern coastal dialects from the area around Haljala and Vihula, although I was under the impression the regional dialects weren't really spoken in that area anymore (replaced by the standard dialect).
I have spent quite many summers exactly in the area around Haljala and Vihula in my youth, and I can't remember hearing anything significantly different from the standard language.

I searched for Haljala and Vihula and "long/overlong" or "pikk/ülipikk" and a few articles came up. Of course if there are other areas with the same pronunciation, I wouldn't have found them in that search, so who knows? I didn't have time to read through the info thoroughly but this is what I found:
https://books.google.com/books?id=0ZPyCQAAQBAJ wrote:The North-Eastern coastal dialect spoken in the area from which the singer LK originates does not differentiate between long and overlong quantity.

http://www.murre.ut.ee/arhiiv/naita_pilt.php?materjal=kasikiri&materjal_id=D1419&sari=D wrote:Teise- ja kolmandavälteliste sõnade kestussuhete rühma kattumine on ootuspärane vanemat põlvkonda esindava JK puhul, kelle keeles pika ja ülipika vastandust ei peakski olema.

The speaker being described ("LK") in the first quote is from Haljala Parish and in the second one, "JK" is from Eisma küla in Vihula Parish.

The first one is from a book about folksongs, so it is discussing older language than what is normally spoken. I am thinking maybe the person Naava talked to meant that this is the way people used to speak in her (ancestral) dialect, or she had heard it used by members of the older generation or old recordings somewhere.
Since Finnish similarly lacks a distinction between long and overlong, it kind of makes sense that an Estonian language teacher from the northeastern coast (itself relatively close to Finland) who was living in Finland would be aware of that similarity and mention it, even if it's not the way people speak anymore.
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

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ainurakne
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby ainurakne » 2017-02-06, 8:04

I think I fount this "JK":
http://heli.eki.ee/murded/data/mp3/EMH_702_1.mp3
http://heli.eki.ee/murded/data/mp3/EMH_702_2.mp3
http://heli.eki.ee/murded/data/mp3/EMH_703.mp3

Actually, doesn't sound so foreign at all. I wouldn't be surprised if have actually heard this (or similar) dialect without even noticing it.

More examples of rannikumurre.
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby Linguaphile » 2017-02-06, 15:25

ainurakne wrote:I think I fount this "JK":
http://heli.eki.ee/murded/data/mp3/EMH_702_1.mp3
http://heli.eki.ee/murded/data/mp3/EMH_702_2.mp3
http://heli.eki.ee/murded/data/mp3/EMH_703.mp3

Actually, doesn't sound so foreign at all. I wouldn't be surprised if have actually heard this (or similar) dialect without even noticing it.

More examples of rannikumurre.

Wow! Thanks for the links. I hope you didn't think earlier that I meant people on the northeastern coast speak/spoke with foreign accents. When I wrote "foreign accent" I hadn't yet remembered that it's found in parts of Estonia - I would have just written "accent" (not "foreign") or "regional accent" if I had. But you are right - in the audio clips it's not that noticeabe. Aitäh!
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

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ainurakne
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby ainurakne » 2017-02-06, 16:50

No-no, I just meant that it doesn't sound like something that my ears are not accustomed to. I have relatives from that area, so I have probably heard many remaining features of this dialect, without paying any attention to it and probably considering it as natural variation of the language.

I especially noticed the -vad ending on the imperfect 3rd person plural (e.g. tulivad). I recall my grandfather using that too.

Võta heaks!
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby Linguaphile » 2017-02-06, 17:33

ainurakne wrote:No-no, I just meant that it doesn't sound like something that my ears are not accustomed to. I have relatives from that area, so I have probably heard many remaining features of this dialect, without paying any attention to it and probably considering it as natural variation of the language.

I especially noticed the -vad ending on the imperfect 3rd person plural (e.g. tulivad). I recall my grandfather using that too.

Võta heaks!

Listening to some of the clips, I realized that to me it sounds more like "older peoples' language" than like what I would usually call an "accent". I had not realize that I made the distinction until I heard it, but it seems that I do. Since the regional dialects aren't spoke so much anymore I guess that makes sense. Does it have that association for you too, as a native speaker?
I actually think I feel the same about the way my grandparents (native English speakers from a different region from where I live) spoke, too. It's the accent from their birthplace but since I only ever heard it from my own older relatives and other people of their generation, I don't really hear it as an "accent" so much as a generational thing. Really I had not thought about this before. Very interesting!
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

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ainurakne
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Re: Regarding phonology

Postby ainurakne » 2017-02-06, 19:18

Linguaphile wrote:Listening to some of the clips, I realized that to me it sounds more like "older peoples' language" than like what I would usually call an "accent". I had not realize that I made the distinction until I heard it, but it seems that I do. Since the regional dialects aren't spoke so much anymore I guess that makes sense. Does it have that association for you too, as a native speaker?
I guess so. After all, all the dialects that are not actively preserved, are dying out with people who speak them. And since there are't many (if any) younger people who would speak them, they do feel like "older peoples' language".
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