Vowel Length in Nuer

Irina Vitta Monich


Here we examine newly collected Nuer data to show that Western Nilotic language Nuer distinguishes three degrees of vowel length. A minimal triplet cak ‘tick.SG.NOM” ~ ca:k “milk.PL.NOM” ~ ca::k “milk.PL.GEN” provides an example of this contrast.  Since vowel length plays a crucial role in nominal inflection, we examine distribution of the three degrees of vowel length in the nominal paradigm.  Our preliminary conclusion is that Nuer vowels are lexically specified for two degrees of vowel length only – short and long, and that overlong vowels emerge only as an outcome of a morphological operation which lengthens short and long vowels.   Since we conclude that the three degrees of vowel length do not have equal status in the Nuer grammar, our findings therefore are in line with the reported typological markedness of the three-way contrast in vowel length.


Vowel Length; Nuer; Nilotic

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/amp.v4i0.4006

Copyright (c) 2017 Irina Vitta Monich