Porphyrogenitos wrote: ↑
27 Nov 2018 05:18
Does anyone know of any vowel length alternation systems that have developed recently? Or that otherwise have a well-understood origin? And would anyone happen to have links or info about such a system?
Well, I did just hold a presentation on the development of certain vowel-length alternations in Inari Saami a couple of weeks back... Unfortunately, my materials are all in Finnish and Inari Saami (plus, counting sources, some long-dead trees in German), so I guess uploading them here wouldn't really help.
But to very briefly summarize: Proto-Saamic developed consonant gradation
, meaning that consonants at the onset of the final syllable of the word (and/or the coda of the penult) were pronounced longer if the final syllable was open than if it was closed, resulting in allophonic alternations like this:
*[tolˑɘ] : *[tolɘn] ('fire', nominative and genitive singular, respectively)
*[lɘsˑtɘ] : *[lɘstɘn] ('leaf', ditto)
Later, many case endings were shortened or lost in most Saami languages, so consonant gradation itself took on the function of distinguishing forms, eg. North Saami dolla
(from the aforementioned *[tolˑɘ] : *[tolɘn]).
In addition, East Saamic (and eastern dialects of North Saami) have developed vowel length alternations by, as a rule of thumb, lengthening short stressed vowels before short consonants and shortening long vowels before long consonants. For example, the same forms in Inari would be tullâ : tuulâ
for 'fire' and lostâ : loostâ
The system is quite similar in Skolt Saami, for which a fairly extensive grammar in English exists - and is freely available online
. Not that much on the history of the system, but at least a fairly good source on how it works synchronically, I think.