geminated/doubled consonant

spulp

Senior Member
Italian
Hi all,
in Italy we all realise that when people of other countries learn Italian, they often find it hard to distinguish similar words that differ only because of a short/long consonant:
e.g. "polo" (= geographical pole, or "polo") vs. "pollo" (=chicken).
Something similar can be found in Spanish, but only when a short/long R is involved (as in "pero" vs. "perro").
The only other language that shares this feature with Italian is, as far as I know, Hungarian where long consonants always count, as in "látok" (= "I see") vs. "láttok" ( = you -plural - see)
On the other hand, in English the doubled consonant usually means that the previouos vowel is pronounced in a different way, no the consonant itself (as in "later" vs. "latter").
Now my question:
Do any other languages work as Italian and Hungarian, where each consonant can be either long or short?
 
  • Rallino

    Moderatoúrkos
    Turkish
    Yep, Turkish.

    For example: Yetti means it was enough,whereas Yeti is a monster; and in the first one, the "t" is also orally doubled.

    All double consonants in Turkish are pronounced longer.


    In italian, there are two difficulties. You do differentiate the double consonants, but the "z" is still difficult.

    I never know whether it is: azzione or azione, colazione or colazzione etc :p

    The second difficulty is: gn vs ni

    I still have difficulties deciding whether it was: Polonia or Pologna, and of course the same thing with: Bologna vs Bolonia :D (I've just noticed that this is a little off-topic now, but anyway!)
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well, in Russian there may be doubled consonant letters, but it not always causes the lengthening of the sounds (!). Nevertheless, it may be phonematically important, for example:
    "поддержать" (podderzhat') - to support, to maintain (perfective);
    "подержать" (poderzhat') - to hold a bit, to keep a bit (perfective);
    "наддувать" (nadduvat') - to pressurize (i.e. create an additional pressure in a tank; imperfective);
    "надувать" (naduvat') - to inflate, to blow up (with air); to dupe (imperfective).

    For a comparison, single and double "н" letters in suffixes may serve for making difference between verbal adjectives and passive participles in writing, but nevertheless are pronounced the same way.
     
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    Wacky...

    Senior Member
    Philippines-Tagalog
    As for Filipino (Tagalog), most of us do not make a distinction. I think geminated consonants do not exist in our national language. At least, none that I can think of.
    However, some regional languages in the Philippines do have words with geminated consonants like our local Tagalog dialect, the widely spoken Ilocano, the language of my father which is spoken by a minor group of people, and others that I'm not aware of.
    The problem is, since these languages are not official there is no standard way of spelling these consonants, and some of us just spell it with a single letter, unlike what you do in Italian.
    Aside from that, we are used to English that we would normally read doubled consonants as we would single ones.

    I have one question regarding Italian: Do you pronounce all of the doubled consonants long?
    I've had an overview of the Italian phonetics but I don't know if it's an absolute rule, or whether there are exceptions.
     

    hui

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    Finnish, for example:

    kuka - kukka : who - flower
    kylä - kyllä : village - yes
    kumi - kummi : rubber - godparent
    moni - monni : many - catfish
    rapu - rappu : crab - step (of stairs)
    hera - herra : whey - mister
    kisa - kissa : competition - cat
    mato - matto : worm - carpet
     

    Frank06

    Senior Member
    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Hi,
    On the other hand, in English the doubled consonant usually means that the previouos vowel is pronounced in a different way, no the consonant itself (as in "later" vs. "latter").
    In a Dutch text you'll find a lot of double consonants, but they are basically used to indicate whether the preceding vowel is long or short in words with more than one syllable (a bit, really only a little bit, as in your example of English later/latter).

    Groetjes,

    Frank
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    Czech: the same as in Russian

    podati (po + dáti) vs. poddati (pod + dáti): po and pod are different verbal prefixes

    raci (plur. of rak) vs. racci (plur. of racek)
     

    palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    Japanese:

    zashi - spectator
    zasshi (pronounced like doubled sh) - newspaper

    kito - plan
    kitto - definitely

    The geminated consonant is not necessarily the only distinguishing feature between words; there can be pitch accent differences too.
     
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    Ghabi

    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    Cantonese
    In Arabic, one of the derivative pattern (wazn) is made by doubling the second stem of a root. The derivative meaning is supposed to be emphatic, e.g. qatala "to kill"; qattala "to kill a lot, i.e. to masscre", qaTa3a "to cut"; qaTTa3a "to cut a lot, i.e. to chop", but the meaning is also often found to be causative (there's actually a special causative pattern achieved by metathesis, so the two patterns are sometimes identical in meaning).
     

    elirlandes

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    In Irish, the vowels a,e,i,o,u are always short. To make a long consonant, you add an accent (á,é,í,ó,ú). The name of this accent in Irish is "fada" which means long.
    á is called "a fada" which means "long a".

    sean [shan], Seán [shawn] = old, Jean/John [then name]
    cead [kyad], céad [kay-ad] = permission, first

    There is an unusual spelling rule in Irish in that [i, í, e, é] are considered "slender" vowels, and [a,á, o, ó, u, ú] are considered wide vowels.
    The rule is "caol le caol agus leathan le leathan" = "slender with slender and wide with wide".
    This means that when a consonant is preceded by a slender vowel, the next vowel must also be slender. Similarly, when a consonant is preceded by a wide vowel, the next vowel mush also be wide.
    Cailín = girl... note that there is a slender vowel (i, í) on either side of the "L"
    madra = dog... note that there is a slender vowel (a,a) on either side of the "D"
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    In Arabic, one of the derivative pattern (wazn) is made by doubling the second stem of a root. [...] (there's actually a special causative pattern achieved by metathesis, so the two patterns are sometimes identical in meaning).
    It's more than that: there can be two different verbs, similar in meaning but still different:
    darasa = to learn
    darrasa = to teach

    In the colloquial Arabic of Egypt (and maybe other dialects too), the doubled consonant can make the difference between "do" and "make someone do":
    raqaS = to dance
    raqqaS = to make someone dance (actually this distinction is also valid in some verbs in fuSHa/MSA).
     

    ElFrikiChino

    Senior Member
    Italian (Mantova)
    In italian, there are two difficulties. You do differentiate the double consonants, but the "z" is still difficult.

    I never know whether it is: azzione or azione, colazione or colazzione etc :p

    The second difficulty is: gn vs ni

    I still have difficulties deciding whether it was: Polonia or Pologna, and of course the same thing with: Bologna vs Bolonia :D (I've just noticed that this is a little off-topic now, but anyway!)
    As far as the z is concerned, there's a rule we learn in 1st grade: never double the z if you're writing zio (uncle) or zia (aunt). This also applies if the two words are inside a longer word, like azione, marziano.

    As for the ni/gn I don't think there's a rule. It's just two different spellings one has to learn :) In this case it's Polonia and Bologna. However you can't put an i after gn
     

    Perkele

    Member
    Finland, Finnish
    @ mungu: It is my belief that Swedish and Norwegian do not have distinctive consonant gemination. Is there any minimal pairs where gemination distinguishes two meanings?

    Of course, Latin had distinctive consonant gemination. After all it's not like Italian just picked it up out of nowhere.

    Arabic, Japanese, Hungarian, Finnish and Estonian all have it too. Estonian actually has three different consonant lenghts, but that's another story.
     

    galaxy man

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Estonian actually has three different consonant lenghts, but that's another story.
    That sounds very interesting! Can you, please, tell us a little more about this? It seems perfectly fitting with the spirit of this topic.
     

    ElFrikiChino

    Senior Member
    Italian (Mantova)
    However you can't put an i after gn
    Probably off-topic, but necessary.

    I was re-reading this, and the quoted sentence above is wrong. You can, indeed, put an i after gn. What I meant is you don't need to put an i after gn to create the
    |ɲ| sound if there's already another vowel. As far as the pronunciation is concerned, the gn sound in these words is the same. Gnomo = bagnino = Bologna = gnu = lasagne.
    I'm not sure it's clear, but I don't really know how to explain it differently
     

    Villeggiatura

    Senior Member
    Russian
    How differently are consonants and their geminates pronounced in your language?

    Caveat: only when speakers are speaking in a conversational manner without ad hoc strenuosity;
    please exclude the geminations resulting in consonant-clusterization (like cc in access) and semi-vocalization (like ll in castillo);
    include the de facto geminations like cq in acquisition and ck in ticket.
    That's the general question.

    One specific question for English speakers: is there really any difference in pronouncing the consonant and its geminate in cases like the following?
    rifle riffle
    era error
    bubble bible
    cuckoo coco
    daddy dodo
    lullaby lily
    pepper people
    teetertotter
    Massachusetts

    One related question: how restricted/unrestricted is gemination in your language?

    To my knowledge, Spanish seems to be at one end of the spectrum: since cc(diccionario) is for consonant-clusterization and ll(villa) is for semi-vocalization, rr might be the only real gemination;
    Italian seems to be at the other end of the spectrum: every consonant has its geminate, not to mention the frequent gemination of consonants and consonant clusters in the words of Greek and Latin origins, e.g.,
    bb for b: pubblico (publicus)
    cc for c: accademia (academia)
    nn for mn: alunno(alumnus)
    ss for ps/x: clessidra(clepsydra) ortodosso(orthodoxus)
    tt for ct/pt: notturno(nocturnus) Egitto(Aegyptus)
    ...

    Last question:
    Is there any language having a consonant tripled(or above) in its orthography?
    [Moderator's Note: Merged with a previous thread]
     
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    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    Estonian consonants and vowels have three 'quantities': short, long and 'overlong' (I'm using 'layman's terms' here [as I don't know any other ones]). Most of the long and overlong consonants can't be distinguished in writing (they are doubled) but there are exceptions: b, d and g are voiceless consonants in Estonian (pronounced like unaspirated [p][t][k]), p, t, k are their geminated ('long') counterparts and pp, tt, kk are 'overlong'. You can hear the distinction quite clearly if you compare the g/k/kk sounds in lugeda (to read), kukub (falls, is falling) and kukkuma (to fall).
     
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    Delvo

    Senior Member
    American English
    English has what are called "long" vowels and "short" vowels, but they aren't really long & short. Those are just names for the two separate sounds that each letter often represents. (The names might come from a time when length really was the difference, but if so, then the long & short vowels have evolved too independently since then to really be thought of as long or short now.) Of the vowel letters, only "e" gets doubled to indicate the "long" (by name) sound instead of the "short" (by name) sound, but even in that case, it's not really making it longer; it's just specifying this sound instead of this one. Either can be sustained for any amount of time with no effect on the sound's identification or the word's meaning. The only other vowel that often appears doubled is "oo", but again, it's not to indicate length. It's to indicate a completely separate sound that a single "o" would not represent.

    English doesn't really do gemination of consonants either. Maybe it once did, and that would explain the double consonants in a lot of our spellings. The only modern function of consonant doubling is to specify whether the preceding vowel is long or short, in the funny English system of naming vowels long/short when they really aren't. To use one of the original post's examples: "rifle" has an English "long " (which is the diphthong /aɪ/), and "riffle" has a "short ".
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    @ mungu: It is my belief that Swedish and Norwegian do not have distinctive consonant gemination. Is there any minimal pairs where gemination distinguishes two meanings?
    The consonant gemination is not as distinct in Swedish as it is in Finnish (and Danish), but it is there. In Swedish the vowel and consonant length depends on each others. There is a difference in length between short consonants and half-long consonants in words such as these:
    Anna - ana (name - to suspect)
    bana - banna (path, track - to chide)
    bal - ball (ball, dance - fun)
    bar - barr (bar - (pine) needle)
    get - getter (one goat - many goats)
    get - gett (goat - given)
    knop - knopp (knot - knob, button)
    bok - bock (book - a buck or ram, or a check/tick mark) Swedish doesn't have double-k, it uses -ck instead

    There is also (at least to me) often a difference in the sound between the short and half-long consonants.

    As for triple consonants,they exist, but they are never written out, unless there is a hypen in the word, mäss-skjorta (a priest's alba), lapp-påse (patch bag), barr-ruska (pine needle branch), lätt-tvättad (easy to wash), lätt-torkad (easy to dry).
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    In Standard Modern Greek this distinction has been lost, at least since the 10th-11th c. CE, perhaps even earlier; in Classical and Hellenistic Greek (Koine) geminates were pronounced longer than singletons.
    The distinctive consonant length has been retained in the Cypriot (since 14th c. CE), Chian (since 17th c. CE), Icarian (15th c. CE), Dodecanesian (15th c. CE), and Griko (11th c. CE) regiolects, where geminates are either pronounced x1,5/x2 times longer than singletons, or in the case of «-σσ-» -ss- as [ʃ] (Dodecanese) e.g.:
    Cypriot: «Πεθθερά» [peθ.θeˈɾa] (fem.) = Standard MoGr «πεθερά» [peθeˈɾa] (fem.) < Classical fem. «πενθερὰ» pĕntʰerā̀ --> mother-in-law.
    «Σάββατον» [ˈsav.vaton] (neut.) = St. MoGr «Σάββατο» [ˈsavato] (neut.) < Koine neut. «Σάββατον» Sábbātŏn --> the Hebrew Sabbath, week, (in MoGr) Saturday.
    Dodecanesian: «Σσεπάρνιν» [ʃeˈparnin] (neut.) = Standard MoGr «σκεπάρνι» [sceˈparni] (neut.) < Classical masc. «σκέπαρνος» sképārnŏs --> chip-axe.
    «Νησσήν» [niˈʃin] (neut.) = St. MoGr «νησί» [niˈsi] (neut.) < Classical fem. «νῆσος» nêsŏs --> island.
    Griko: «Καταυαίννω» [kataˈven.no] = Standard MoGr «κατεβαίνω» [kateˈveno] < Classical «καταβαίνω» kătăbaínŏ --> to descend.
    Εττού» [etˈtu] (adv.) = St. MoGr «εδώ» [eˈðo] (adv.) < Classical adv. «ὧδε» hôdĕ --> here.
     
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