Speech Prosody 2014

The ternary contrast of consonant duration in Inari Saami

Helen Turk, Partel Lippus, Karl Pajusalu and Pire Teras
The three-way distinction of quantity occurs in several Finnic and Saami languages. The paper focuses on the length contrast of consonants in Inari Saami. Similarly to Estonian and other Finno-Ugric languages where three quantities are described, in Inari Saami the distinction between single consonants, short geminates or consonant clusters, and long geminates or consonant clusters appears only on the boundary of a stressed and unstressed syllable of a disyllabic foot. Our results show that in Inari Saami the duration of consonants is inversely related to the duration of both preceding and following vowels, and there is a tendency towards foot isochrony. The results are in line with previous studies on quantity opposition in Inari Saami and in other Finnic languages, showing the ternary distinction of consonant quantities as a foot-level feature of the language.