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51

The question could be interpreted as being about "vowel letters". "Twyndyllyngs" is a candidate: said to come from Welsh. If we take "vowels" to be the letters [ieaou], then Norwegian råbygg has no vowels. The defect in the reasoning there is that in Norwegian, y, å, ø, æ are also "vowel letters", so you have to assume ...


33

Good question! This comes down to formants. Any periodic sound (from a violin, a trumpet, a guitar, or a human voice, among many many others) can be written as the sum of a whole bunch of sine waves at different "pitches" (frequencies). The mathematical details are too complicated to include here, but if you're interested, look into the harmonic series, and ...


19

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 ...


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


15

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


15

Short answer: yes, but it's not as interesting. "R-colored vowels" are vowels that have are pronounced more like [ɝ], which is somewhat similar to [ɹ]. [ɝ] is a very interesting vowel, because it has something weird going on with its third formant—something that's not directly connected to height or frontness (the first two formants), or rounding (...


14

The original reason was, "[æ] and [ɑ] sound less different than [i] and [u]". It seemed intuitively like there was less "space" between front and back low vowels, so they drew less space on that part of the diagram. Nowadays, though, the reasons are acoustic. The position of a vowel on the trapezoid is actually an objective, measurable quantity: the "...


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'


13

Ancient Greek has ἀάατος "inviolable".


13

There's a word (a sentence actually) in the Canadian language Bella Coola (aka Nuxalk) that only consists of obstruents (no vowels at all) and is longer than the Czech word you mentioned in the question: clhp'xwlhtlhplhhskwts': [xɬpʼχʷɬtʰɬpʰɬːskʷʰt͡sʼ] /xɬ-pʼχʷɬt-ɬp-ɬɬ-s=kʷt͡sʼ/ it translates to “then he had had in his possession a bunchberry plant” (Nater ...


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 ...


12

While there can always be some ambiguity, Hebrew and other Semitic languages have a system of triconsonantal roots, in which each sequence of three consonants suggests the meaning of the word. For example, the root k-t-b, meaning "to write", is used to derive words like kāṯaḇti כתבתי "I wrote", kāṯaḇ כתב "he wrote", kattāḇ כתב "reporter" (m), kəṯāḇ כתב "...


11

Your question presupposes that "you can fairly well analyse Modern English vowels as having length", but it's not clear that that is the case. I'll get to that later, though. First, let's be clear--if we were to divide modern American English vowels up into long and short vowels, the categories would cross-cut the categories of long and short vowels that ...


11

Regarding "why", it's believed that most languages will go for "maximal dispersion" and try to have vowels as acoustically distinct as possible (or, as easily learnable as possible). So if they choose three vowels, it will very often be /a,i,u/ ; /i,u/ are easier to distinguish than /y,ɯ/ or /u,o/ (ref). Of course, there are always oddities; Ubykh had ...


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.


11

This is one of those "it depends" questions. Dinka (Bor dialect) has the vowels [i e ɛ ɔ o u a], as well as long and over-long versions of these (21 vowels), and 4 phonatory contrasts (breathy, hollow, model, creaky) → 84 vowel, which can have 4 different tones (H, F, L, R) giving 336. Unfortunately they do not also have nasal vowels. You could redefine the ...


11

Perhaps it is helpful to understand some of the history behind this mixed system. Originally, Hebrew was never written with niqudot (diacritics added above, below, or within consonantal signs; singular niqud). Although there is a high theoretical ambiguity in such a writing system (e.g. שמר for šāmar 'he guarded', šəmor 'guard!', šomēr '(a) guard') this ...


10

The short answer is yes--schwa before a nasal in the same syllable tends to be nasalized. The more nuanced answer is that nasalization in English is not really as straightforward as is sometimes taught in Intro to Linguistics classes. There are a couple of issues to bear in mind: Perhaps precisely because nasalization is not contrastive in English, there ...


10

Just wanted to add this diagram which shows the subjective vowel sounds as they correspond to the combination of F1 and F2 formants in a two-dimensional chart. The chart is from this page of the National Center for Voice and Speech's website. F1 is typically generated at the front of the mouth and F2 typically in the throat or back of the mouth, both ...


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


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 ...


9

"W" developed as a standard, distinct letter by about the 17th century, taking its sweet time getting there. It is the result of standardizing a ligature of "vv", ramming the letters together. Bear in mind that the Latin alphabet did not distinguish "u" and "v" as one can see from inspecting Latin inscriptions (modern publications do, however, generously ...


9

Don't take spelling too seriously, it's often conventional and arbitrary. Language is primarily a spoken thing rather than a string of written letters. Don't confuse sounds (phonemes) with their written symbols. Letters and phonemes have their own separate lives. With this proviso, I can try to answer some of your questions. how can W be a consonant? Its ...


9

The pool is small enough that the concept of "consensus" is mildly anomalous, but I think the consensus would be that we can't tell what the proto vowel system was phonetically. The standard view is that PB had 3 vowel heights. The first degree of height may be graphically represented as [i u, î û, i̧ u̧] (cedillas); the second is [ɪ ʊ, i u, e o] (although ...


8

In the realm of regular synchronic processes, vowel dissimilation is relatively uncommon (dissimilation itself is uncommon, and vowel-to-vowel dissimilation is most uncommon); however, it does exist. Examples are low-vowel dissimilation in Woleaian where /a/ becomes [e] before a in the next syllable (described in Sohn 1971), and reportedly the rule is found ...


8

Nobody knows, and it's an experiment waiting to happen. The first problem that has to be overcome is creating the stimuli (which is the main non-practical impediment to me doing this). For consistency, the stimuli should be synthesized, thus I disagree with the requirement that the stimuli must be produced by a human. You can synthesize things that can't be ...


8

This conlang seems to fit the bill: The Qohenje writing system is a "reverse abjad" (like the logical opposite of the Arabic or Hebrew writing systems, for example), with the dominant symbols being those showing vowels (+ tones), and with consonants shown by diacritics written above or below the vowel (see below). The vocalic core is considered the “main” ...


8

The mainstream hypothesis is that the vowel found in words like white was pronounced as something like [iː] (a long close front vowel, like that in Modern German bieten) in Common Germanic, and then it diphthongized to [aɪ] in both English and German after the two languages had already split from each other. In English, the diphthongization is often ...


7

Wals claims there are at least 4 known languages which use only two vowels, /i/ and /a/, and would therefore make no distinction based on backness. But I find this hard to believe. The only example they give is that of Yimas. But Yimas has 4 vowels /i ɨ u/ and /a/ if William A Foley is to be believed. So the evidence for a language that doesn't have at ...


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