Estonian diphthongs in the spontaneous speech Cover Image

Estonian diphthongs in the spontaneous speech

Author(s): Pire Teras
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: Teaduste Akadeemia Kirjastus
Keywords: phonology; phonetics; language variation

Summary/Abstract: Diphthongs have been defined as sequences of two qualitatively different vowels which belong to the same syllable. There are 36 diphthongs in Estonian. Three of them /ai, ei, ui/ occur in the non-initial syllable. All nine Estonian vowels /i ü u e ö õ o ä a/ can appear as the first component and only five of them /a e i o u/ as the second component of a diphthong. The diphthongs are usually classified into two groups: own and foreign diphthongs. There are 26 own diphthongs, which occur in native and loanwords, and 10 foreign diphthongs. 18 own diphthongs occur both in quantity 2 (Q2) and quantity 3 (Q3) words. 8 own diphthongs that have arisen as a result of quality alternation occur only in Q3 words. Foreign diphthongs are primarily in the unstressed first syllable and can sometimes be pronounced with syllable boundary. In the phonetic corpus of Estonian spontaneous speech the majority of diphthong words (96%) contained own diphthongs occurring both in Q2 and Q3 words. 3% of analysed words contained own diphthongs occurring only in Q3 words and 1% of diphthongs were foreign diphthongs. The most frequent diphthongs were ei, ea, õi. 63% of diphthongs were pronounced as written. In the 4% of cases there was a quality change in the case of the first or second component. In the 5% of words containing diphthong, the diphthong was pronounced as a long monophthong. Monophthongization concerned only own diphthongs (most of all diphthongs ending in e). In the case of own diphthongs occurring in frequent (synsemantic) words it was usual that diphthong was shortened to a short monophthong or even completely lost.

  • Issue Year: 2011
  • Issue No: 57
  • Page Range: 235-248
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Estonian