14

I was just reading a french text with the word créées (created). Are there any other languages where triple letters, especially vowels, can be found occasionally?

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    Romanian: the plural of copilul ("the child") is copiii. The third 'i' is the definite article. – Colin Fine Dec 5 '14 at 0:31
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    English actually has a few such words: "goddessship" and "headmistressship" are two. – Zgialor May 16 '15 at 2:05
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a trivia question. While other list-of-languages questions can serve as the beginnings of a linguistic typology, this kind of orthography question doesn't have any real linguistic merit. All we're doing is identifying quirks at the limits of orthography. – curiousdannii May 8 '17 at 4:43
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    This question has merit to this linguist, who's debugging machine-built pronunciation dictionaries for low-resource languages: thousands of instances of 'should "aaadaa" and "aadaa" and "aadaaa" be considered the same word in Oromo?' – Camille Goudeseune Aug 23 '17 at 19:23
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    Plenty of examples. But in French, shouldn't 'e' and 'é' be considered different letters? (because the ´ makes it a different vowel, rathe than the same vowel stressed)? – WGroleau Aug 6 '18 at 13:49

19 Answers 19

18

It certainly comes up occasionally, but mainly, I would think, across morpheme boundaries where one is a doubled letter and the other is that same letter but in its singular form (as in the new German orthography Schifffahrt, Balletttänzer, etc) or where a letter has both consonant and vowel values. Undoubtedly at some point uvula and any other words with uvu would in the past have been written identically until the separation of the v from u (if someone could find an old print reference to a vuvuzela then you'd have a quadruple u).

But I would imagine most languages (happy to be corrected, of course) would start to simplify spelling if the extra letters don't change pronunciation, or add in punctuation to separate them (as in shell-less in English)

  • Oops, reread the question about vowels, so... my answer is not as useful =/ – guifa Dec 4 '14 at 18:01
  • No no it's okay! I mistyped. I was looking for repeated letters tripled, not just triple vowels like oiseau. My bad. – Faraz Masroor Dec 6 '14 at 20:54
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    So sad we have little chance to find a Roman inscription about VVVVZELA ... – Frédéric Grosshans Jul 31 '18 at 17:30
15

In German, you can make up such words on your own, as needed. Find words that ends with two of some vowel, like schnee (snow), tee (tea) and words that begin with the same letter, and you have:

Schneeeule, also written as Schnee-Eule to make it less confusing.

Schneeeule

Teeei, also written as Tee-Ei to make it less confusing.

Teeei

15

Estonian "jäääär" ("edge of the ice") comes to mind. It contains the letter ä 4 times in a row.

  • Is it acceptable to use jaaaar or should one instead write jaa-aar or jaa aar? (accents of course) – Faraz Masroor Dec 12 '14 at 1:38
  • Typologically, Estonian represents a transitional form from an agglutinating language to a fusional language. Nouns with affixes are therefore not all in the dictionary, as they can take many different forms, just like verb conjugations in French. The word jäääär comes from jää +‎ äär and is written all in one word. – octosquidopus Dec 12 '14 at 8:27
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    @octosquidopus No it isn't. It's always written jää äär or jää-äär (depending on the context) – jaam Jul 4 '18 at 23:00
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    @jaam is right. It is written jää äär or jää-äär in Estonian texts, but jäääär often comes up in non-Estonian texts discussing the quadrupled "ä" (presumably to emphasize the repetition). – octosquidopus Feb 10 at 20:32
  • Similarly, before the spelling reform of 1948, the Danish word for eel caught in the Swedish river of Råå would be written raaaaaal or Raaaa-aal. Nowadays, of course, they’re Råå-ål or rååål, though I don’t think you’re allowed to fish for them anymore. – Janus Bahs Jacquet yesterday
13

Russian has several words with triple letters:

длинношеее - 'having a long neck', also короткошеее - 'having a short neck'

змееед - 'snake-eater', the name of a bird

доооновский - 'pre-UN'

зоообъединение - 'zoos' association'

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    It should be noted thogh that the examples with e have consonant sounds between the vowels (because the last two e-s in the triplex pronounced [jeje]), – Anixx Dec 6 '14 at 7:31
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    @Anixx - Yes, you're right, but the OP says nothing about sounds, the question is about letters. – Yellow Sky Dec 6 '14 at 11:24
13

Ancient Greek has ἀάατος "inviolable".

12

In biblical Hebrew, we have חננני "have mercy upon me" (Psalms 9:13 - although that's an unusual form; usually it would be with two נs, and the first would be marked with a gemination symbol) and מממלכה "from one kingdom" (Psalms 105:13 and I Chron. 16:20). Other examples would be possible according to Hebrew grammar, such as וווים "and hooks" or כשששה "when six."

11

The number 22 in Dutch (and other numbers ending with 2) are written as tweeëntwintig - a compound of twee (two), en (and), and twintig (twenty).

In Dutch, the diaeresis are added to the last recurring vowel to indicate a change in syllable; English has this also with Zoë and naïve.

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    My Dutch is rusty by now, but also consider for example we zijn met 'n tweeën -- no compounding necessary. – Wilson May 9 '17 at 4:32
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    The same for zeeën and reeën. – ukemi Jul 31 '18 at 6:18
  • Before the 1996 spelling reform, there was zeeëend, which is now officially spelled zee-eend. – Mr Lister Jul 2 at 6:24
9

Welsh: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Longest place name)

Swedish: Hawaiiindianer

Norwegian: An ortographic rule makes it impossible with three consonants, and seperates them like this: Trafikk-kork

  • I specifically asked my Norwegian teacher about the Norwegian example and he told me that, while examples such as "trafikk-kort" and "trafikk-kork" are possible, he has more frequently seen either "trafikkort" (with a dropped letter) or just plain compounded "trafikkkort". He also said that "trafikk-kort" vs. "trafikkkort" looks to him as more of a register distinction than an orthographical rule following vs. violation – Darkgamma Dec 10 '14 at 23:17
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    I was also thinking of LlanfairPG. It depends whether the question is asking about graphemes, so here we have 4 consecutive letters, or whether it was asking about letter in the language's alphabet - in this case, LlanfairPG only has two consecutive letters as <ll> is considered different to <l> in the Welsh alphabet: "<a b c ch d dd e f ff g ng h i j l ll ... y> – Danger Fourpence Dec 11 '14 at 0:56
  • @darkgamma You are absolutely right, I was just giving a quick reference, stating that an ortographic rule stops Norwegian from writing three consecutive identical consonants. I would definetely write trafikkork – Flying Dec 11 '14 at 5:41
  • @Danger Fourpence The question is tagged with ortography, so then I thought the asker was looking for letters... – Flying Dec 11 '14 at 5:45
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    <ll> is unambiguously one letter in Welsh, just as <ij> is one letter in Dutch. The fact that they resemble sequences of letters in other languages' writing systems is irrelevant. – Colin Fine Jan 22 '15 at 22:48
9

In Tagalog, maaari is a fairly common word used to mean "can" or "able to".

9

Japanese has a prefix ō-, meaning "big" and pronounced as a long "o" (as if pronouncing two "o"s in a row), which in kana writing is おお. If this prefix is added to any word starting with お, you'll get three おs in a row: おおおじ oo-oji "great-grandfather", おおおく oo-oku "great-interior" = "inner palace" (of the shogun's castle), etc.

In kanji writing there's 御御御付 o-mi-o-tsuke "miso soup", an unusual orthography exploiting the fact that 御 can be pronounced both o- and mi-. I like to think that the creator of this orthography had a sense of humor; reading it feels like a puzzle (and it doesn't really respect the etymology of the word, "miso broth", for which 御味御付 or 御味御汁 would be better ways of writing it).

If you're more interested in sound than writing, there are several cases where a sequence of two long ōs follow each other, making for an extra-long sound; e.g. hōō "Pope", sōō "suitable", Tōō "Eastern Europe" etc. Likewise with long "e" there’s kēē "management", sēē "elite".

  • 子子子子子子子子子子子子, you may now argue that's not a word oe whether words are to be defined as distinct from phrases. – vectory Feb 17 at 18:18
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    Don’t forget 東欧を覆おう ‘let’s cover Eastern Europe’, which is transcribed Tōō (w)o ōō, pronounced /toːoː o oːoː/. – Janus Bahs Jacquet yesterday
6

In Finnish, there are many words where the letter "k" drops out in certain case forms, and this occasionally creates a sequence of three identical vowels:

vaaka "scale (for weighing)" : genitive vaa'an "of (the) scale"

raaka "raw" : genitive raa'an

As you can see, the orthographic convention is to put an apostrophe ("heittomerkki") in the place where the lost consonant would have appeared. This is done wherever the loss of "k" results in a sequence of two or more identical vowels: reikä ("hole") : genitive rei'in, liuku ("slide") : gen. liu'un, and so on.

6

In French, you can say créée or créées, as the feminine past-tense fo créer, which is to create in English. For the past tense of any verb consisting of être, (être né) or to be born, we add an extra e for the female conjugation. An example of this in a sentence is. Les filles d'esprit ont été créées il y a 5,000 années, (the spirit girls were created 5,000 years ago).

Surprisingly, you can also find some words in English with three consecutive letters in them, but, they are not vowels. The feminine grammar for godship is goddessship, which has three of the letter, s, in a row. So does headmistressship, but again, these are not vowels. Hope this helped! :)

6

In Romanian, I know of about 6-7 words that end in triple 'i' - last i represents the definite article; some examples:

  • copiii - the kids
  • viii - the living ones
  • camionagiii - the truck drivers
5

In Arabic there is the verb تترك (ta-tar-ra-ka), which means "to be/become/act like the Turks". This verb, when conjugated in the second person singular form, becomes تتترك (ta-ta-tar-ra-ka) "you become Turkish".

Note that this letter "ت" is repeated only in writing, not phonetically. This is possible because in Arabic the majority of short vowels aren't written so usually a letter will represent a consonant-vowel combination. If you're looking for a "triple sound" you won't find any. For more about syllable structure in Arabic, here's the Wikipedia page.

5

In Hebrew, two different sequences of four identical letters can occur:

  • וווו. This is a word on its own. It means "and his hook".
  • ממממ. This sequence occurs in words such as ממממן (from a financier), ממממנו (from his financier) and other similar forms. In addition, it occurs in words such as ממממש (from an implementer), ממממשו (from his implementer) and other similar forms.

Fun fact, in ממממנם (from their financier) and ממממשם (from their implementer), the final letter ם is actually just the letter מ in its 'final form'. So these 6 letter words contain the letter מ five times.

4

In "créées" we find three times the letter 'e' but French people say only [kʁee] (with two 'e'), the final 'e' being dropped. "créées" : past participle of "créer" : feminine, plural ("Les étoiles ont été créées il y a longtemps." -> The stars have been created a long time ago.)

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    Interesting point, but the question is about the letters and not the sounds. – Alenanno Dec 6 '14 at 19:57
  • Apparently, in some accents of French the "e" at the end of "créée" is realized as length on the preceding vowel: it is pronounced /kʁeeː/. – sumelic Aug 6 '18 at 15:28
4

A lot of answers deal with regular orthography, but triple letters are often and colloquially used in non-standard spellings to express emotion or emphasis, e.g. German Ich hab sich sooo lieb "I love you sooo" or English boooring. I am sure other languages have examples of this, too.

  • Ich hab dich.... – fdb Aug 6 '18 at 16:15
4

In greek there is the word ''αντιιικός'' (antiviral) from ''αντι-'' and ''-ιικός'' (viral)

  • Please add more information. Answers are supposed to be long and with a lot of details. – zixuan May 1 at 19:58

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