Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Consonant Length

Many languages have distinctive consonant length. This feature is also known as gemination. In English consonant length is only distinctive across morpheme boundaries but never within a word.

In Finnish the words kuka and kukka are distinguished by consonant length. The former means who and the latter means flower. In English such a distinction never occurs within a single word, but it can occur across word boundaries. An example is night train and night rain. The first compound has a long consonant and the second has a short one. With affricates, consonant length isn't distinctive. For example, orange juice is pronounced with a single affricate.

Consonant length is distinctive in many languages. They include Arabic, Finnish, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese and Swedish. English has distinctive consonant length across word boundaries but not within a single word.

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