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Complex vowel sequences
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Apart from long and short monophthongs, Frisian has diphthongs, tautomorphemic sequences of two (different) monophthongs. Besides that, a stem can also contain sequences of three or four vowels. This section provides overviews of both kinds of vocalic sequences.

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Apart from long and short monophthongs, Frisian allows for combinations of monophthongs in one and the same morpheme. A diphthong, for example, is a combination of two different tautomorphemic vowels, which end up as the nucleus of a syllable. The phonetic implementation of such a sequence is a tautosyllabic unit of two vowels, between which there is a smooth articulatory transition. The Frisian diphthongs are shown in (1).

Example 1

The Frisian diphthongs
a. Falling diphthongs
/aj/ rein rain
/ɛj/ nij new
/ʌɥ/ buis tube
/ɔw/ blau blue
/oj/ floite whistle
b. Centring diphthongs
/iə/ stien stone
/yə/ flues membrane
/uə/ koel cool
/ɪə/ beam tree
/øə/ freon friend
/oə/ koal cabbage
c. Rising diphthongs
/ja/ ljacht light
/jɛ/ frjemd strange
/jɔ/ ljocht light
/jɪ/ ljisk groin
/jø/ pjuts prick
/jo/ rjocht right
/jy/ njúnt(sje) to hum
/ju/ stjûne stem
/wa/ kloarkje to suck
/wɛ/ swel swallow
/wɪ/ twirre whirl
/wø/ swurd sword
/wo/ luorkje to suck
/wi/ dwyl dizzy
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x

The close vowels (vocoids) /i/, /y/, and /u/ are assumed to underlie the glides [j], [ɥ], and [w]. This is in line with Booij (1995:8-9), who specifies the Dutch glide /j/ as "a palatal vocoid, with the same phonetic properties as the [i] except that it occurs in consonantal positions in the syllable; it has a shorter duration than the [i]". For the sake of convenience and exposition, however, the glides are transcribed as /j/, /ɥ/, and /w/ throughout, also in underlying representations.

A stem can also contain sequences of three or four vowels, which are made up of a glide and a long vowel or diphthong. This is shown in (2):

Example 2

Sequences of three or four vowels
a. Rising diphthong + glide
/woj/ muoike aunt
/waj/ moaist most beautiful
b. Long vowel + glide
/u:j/ bloei blossom
/o:j/ roai alignment
/a:j/ aai egg
/i:w/ ieu century; age
c. Glide + long vowel
/ju:/ stjûne stem, stern
/jo:/ skriuw(e) to write
/ja:/ ja yes
/wi:/ swiid superb
/we:/ dwep(e) to gush
/wa:/ twa two
d. Glide + falling diphthong
/jɔw/ fjouwer four
/jʌɥ/ oan'e jui wêze to whirl
/wɛj/ swij(e) to keep silent
e. Glide + centring diphthong
/wiə/ swiet sweet
/juə/ tsjoen enchantment
/wɪə/ kwea evil; harm
/joə/ tsjoar tether
f. Glide + long vowel + glide
/ja:j/ jaai(e) to scud
/ju:j/ joei(e) to frolic
/wa:j/ swaai(e) to wave

See the following topics:

References:
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
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