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What, if any, difference is there between long vowels and a double vowels, i.e. consecutive identical vowels? For example, what is the difference between /i:/ and /ii/?

Phonetically, could it be that the former forms one syllable and the latter form two?
Or could there be a change in quality in one of the two vowels? Or a change in pitch, loudness, or duration of one of the two vowels? (I understand that these possibilities are not mutually exclusive.)

Are there languages that have both phonemic vowel length and double vowels?

Sorry for the lack of background, but I haven't found an answer to this question on the net.

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Phonetically, could it be that the former forms one syllable and the latter form two?

Yes, exactly, except that this isn't a phonetic distinction but a phonological one. If you have two successive identical vowels, they're always going to form two syllables; if you have one long vowel, it's always going to form one syllable.

There can also be phonetic differences in pitch etc., but not necessarily.

Are there languages that have both phonemic vowel length and double vowels?

Yes. Ancient Greek was such a language; I'm sure there are other examples.

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    English also has both phonemic vowel length and double vowels, an example of the latter is "studying" /ˈstʌdɪɪŋ/. – Yellow Sky Dec 22 '13 at 2:01
  • Those vowels aren't identical, though, and there's often a glide between them: [ˈstʌdi(j)ɪŋ]. – TKR Dec 22 '13 at 2:03
  • Well no two vowels are ever identical so there is meaning in both analyses that they are the same and that they differ. Sometimes there's a special kind of "glide" that isn't really a [j], something like a gentler version of a glottal stop. – hippietrail Dec 22 '13 at 5:39
  • Can you give an example of "double vowels" (the same vowel twice in succession) in ancient Greek? – fdb Dec 22 '13 at 20:38
  • @fdb Sure: noos "mind", eleeō "I have pity on", diidein "to discern", hairee "take!". In most cases there's a morpheme boundary between the identical vowels. – TKR Dec 22 '13 at 22:28
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The essential difference is that a long vowel has one peak, and a double vowel has two peaks, usually the peaks are of pitch or loudness, or phonation, if it is used in a language. I know only of the languages in which double vowels form two different syllables.

  • It's not necessarily true that two vowels = two peaks. Hebrew allows successive identical vowels, but there's only one pitch/loudness peak, depending on which of the two is stressed. – TKR Dec 22 '13 at 1:46
  • @TKR - I didn't say the two peaks must be equally high, the unstressed can be lower. If you don't like "two peaks", will you like "a valley between them"? – Yellow Sky Dec 22 '13 at 1:55
  • No, because there aren't two peaks at all. The pitch or loudness graph doesn't look like \/, but like _ or _/. (I'm not sure what you mean by a "phonation" peak, by the way.) – TKR Dec 22 '13 at 2:02
  • That should be "like \_ or _/". – TKR Dec 22 '13 at 3:41

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