Latin disappearance of vowel length

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Beachxhair, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Beachxhair

    Beachxhair Senior Member

    Manchester UK
    English-England
    In the development of Latin to Romance, vowel length which distinguished meaning disappeared and gave way to aperture instead.

    I was wondering why vowel length disappeared and aperture gained ground to distinguish meaning?

    Thanks :)
     
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Distinctive vowel length disappeared, but phonetic lengthening of stressed vowels became very important (giving rise to the well-known diphthongization effects). There are competing theories about what triggered this restructuring of the vowel system in VL; the main one links it to a change in the nature of the Latin accent, from a pitch accent to a stress accent. With a strong stress accent, it is difficult to maintain distinctive vowel length in unaccented syllables, since they are pronounced with less intensity and tend to become shorter (while the accented syllable tends to lengthen).

    Vowel length always tends to be correlated with vowel quality/aperture, and this was probably the case in Latin before the loss of phonemic vowel length. So when that change happened, speakers already had differences in vowel quality that they could rely on to maintain distinctions.
     
  3. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Lots of languages have lost vowel length. In Greek the historical distinction of a/ā, i/ī, o/ō, ü/ǖ was lost without any compensation; the long and short vowels simply merged.
     
  4. bo-marco Senior Member

    Modena
    Italiano Italia - Emiliano Mirandola
    Not in all Romance languages ​​distinction between long and short vowels were lost, for example in Emilian.
    - Al sarà sarâ (en. It will be closed)
    - A gh'ò da védar s'al vēdar al s è śbragâ (en. I have to see if glass is broken)
    - A gh'ò da tōr quèl da la tór (en. I have to take something from the tower)
    - S'at cór al cōr al t batrà fòrt (en. if you run your heart will beat stronger)
    - In du pòs-j-a catàr bicér? (en. where can I get two glasses?)
    - I mè i èn in di guànt (en. my fingers are in the gloves)
     
  5. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Haven't understood the difference between the specific accents in Emilian: grave accent, circumflex accent, acute accent, macron.
     
  6. bo-marco Senior Member

    Modena
    Italiano Italia - Emiliano Mirandola
    à/a=[a]
    â=[a:]
    é=[e]
    ē=[e:]
    è=[ɛ]
    ê=[ɛ:]
    i/ì=
    î=[i:]
    ó/o=[o]
    ō=[o:]
    ò=[ɔ]
    ô=[ɔ:]
    ù/u=
    û/ū=[u:]

    Long vowels are always stressed.
     
  7. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Phonemic vowel length was lost throughout Romance. It has reappeared as an innovation in some varieties of Romance. Emilian has not preserved the long and short vowels of Latin (for example, cŏr "heart" has a short vowel in Latin); it has developed a new system. Latin did not have 14 vowels…
     
  8. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Germany
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual


    Thanks!
     
  9. francisgranada Senior Member

    Slovakia
    Hungarian
    In some of these examples the long wovels seem to be result of some kind of contraction (or loss of the intervocalic consonant):
    sarâ - *sarado,-a (past part.)
    tōr - *toglier
    - *duo/*due
    - *dido/*didi (? plural)
     

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