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Word-final single consonants
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In principle, all Frisian consonants can occur in word-final position, where they can be preceded by all vowels and vocalic sequences. There are, however, some systematic gaps, while (classes of) consonants may also show specific preferences. For instance, the liquid /r/ cannot be preceded by a (half) close vowel, the half open vowel /ɔ(:)/, and a falling diphthong; the dental-alveolar consonants cannot be preceded by /a/ (though they can be by /ɔ/ and /o/). This topic starts with the gaps in the distribution of word-final consonants and subsequently it gives an overview of the consonants in which words may end.

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In principle, all Frisian consonants can occur in word-final position, where they can be preceded by all vowels and vocalic sequences. There are, however, some systematic gaps, while (classes of) consonants may also show specific preferences. An overview of these is provided below:

  • The voiced dorsal plosive /ɡ/ and the glottal consonants /h/ and /ʔ/ do not occur in word-final position.
  • The velar nasal /ŋ/ can only be preceded by a short vowel (or a rising diphthong).
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    /ŋ/ cannot be preceded by a rising diphthong which is the result of Breaking (see breaking), due to the fact that such rising diphthongs have developed from centring diphthongs, which count as long vocalic sequences.

  • As to the pair /oə/ (centring diphthong) ~ /o:/ (long monophthong), the distribution of the consonants is such, that the dental-alveolar ones (including /r/) are preceded by the diphthong and the other ones by the monophthong, as illustrated by koal/koəl//*ko:l/cabbage ~ smook/smo:k//*smoək/smoke; puff.
  • The liquid /r/ cannot be preceded by either the close vowels − /i(:)/, /y(:)/, and /u(:)/ −, the half close vowels /e:/ and /o(:)/ or the half open vowel /ɔ(:)/; and neither by the falling diphthongs /aj/, /ɛj/, /ʌɥ/, /ɔw/, and /oj/, all of which end in glide (which is a close vowel in underlying representation, see the glides).
  • The dental-alveolar consonants cannot be preceded by /a/ (but they can be by /ɔ/ and /o/); for this constraint, see Sipma (1913:6 point 8), Sytstra and Hof (1925:10), Tiersma (1985:12), Tiersma (1999:10), Hoekstra (2001:84), Popkema (2006:64)).
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    Words like marlake, parpear, karrecart, swarr(e)to swear have the vowel /a/. In general, the liquid /r/ is considered to have the dental-alveolar place of articulation. Popkema (2006:61) characterizes the liquids as prepalatal consonants (on page 63, however, they are called dental/prepalatal). The prepalatal character of /r/, then, would explain why words like par are not at odds with the above phonotactic constraint. The problem with this approach is that no evidence is adduced for the liquids' prepalatality and that prepalatal consonants do not seem to play any role in Frisian phonology.

  • The non-coronal nasals /m/ and /ŋ/, and the bilabial voiced plosive /b/ cannot be preceded by /ɔ/ (but they can by /a/ and /o/).
  • The velar voiced fricative /ɣ/ cannot be preceded by the centring diphthongs /iə/, /yə/, /uə/, /øə/, /oə/ and the falling diphthong /ɔw/.
  • The labial consonants /b,v,m,p/ and the voiceless dorsal plosive /k/ cannot be preceded by the centring diphthong /uə/.
  • The voiced fricatives show a preference for being preceded by 'something long' ‒ a long vowel, a falling or centring diphthong, a short vowel and a liquid ‒, whereas the voiceless ones prefer 'something short' ‒ a short vowel or a rising diphthong (see the obstruents: the fricatives).
  • The nasal consonants − /m/, /n/, and /ŋ/ − have a strong preference for being preceded by the half close, short front vowel /ɪ/ instead of by its half open counterpart /ɛ/.

Table 1: Examples of words ending in a single consonant
Consonant type Instance Short vowel Long vowel Centring diphthong
Liquids /l/ al/ɔl/already mâl/mɔ:l/silly moal/moəl/flour
/r/ mar/mar/lake raar/ra:r/odd, queer rier/riər/heifer
Nasals /m/ stom/stom/dumb loom/lo:m/languid team/tɪəm/bridle, reins
/n/ fan/fɔn/of aan/a:n/awareness trien/triən/tear
/ŋ/ twang/twaŋ/compulsion, coercion; close-fitting
Obstruents: voiceless plosives (labial, coronal, dorsal) /p/ kop/kɔp/head; crest leep/le:p/lapwing sliep/sliəp/sleep
/t/ kat/kɔt/cat rôt/rɔ:t/rat liet/liət/song
/k/ pak/pak/parcel reek/re:k/smoke reak/rɪək/rick
Obstruents: voiced plosives (labial, coronal) /b/ sib/sɪb/closest slaab/sla:b/bib, feeder
/d/ lid/lɪd/member tiid/ti:d/time sied/siəd/seed
Obstruents: voiceless fricatives (labial, coronal, dorsal) /f/ wif/vɪf/unstable
/s/ tas/tɔs/bag
/x/ kich/kɪx/cough
Obstruents: voiced fricatives (labial, coronal, dorsal) /v/ haww(e)/hav/to have geef/ɡe:v/whole skeaf/skɪəv/sheaf
/z/ hazze/haz/hare iis/i:z/ice ies/iəz/bait
/ɣ/ mig/mɪɣ/gnat, midge miich/mi:ɣ/piss reach/rɪəɣ/cobweb(s)
References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich2001'It is sjesa gelegen' : presintative fersterking fan demonstrative ileminten yn it Westerlauwersk Frysk, it Sealtersk en oare talenUs wurk: tydskrift foar Frisistyk5085-106
  • Popkema, Jan2006Grammatica FriesUtrecht/ LjouwertUitgeverij Het Spectrum BV Prisma Woordenboeken en Taaluitgaven/ Fryske Akademy
  • Popkema, Jan2006Grammatica FriesUtrecht/ LjouwertUitgeverij Het Spectrum BV Prisma Woordenboeken en Taaluitgaven/ Fryske Akademy
  • Sipma, Pieter1913Phonology and Grammar of Modern West FrisianLondon, New YorkOxford University Press
  • Sytstra, Onno H. & Hof, Jan J1925Nieuwe Friesche SpraakkunstLeeuwardenR. van der Velde
  • Tiersma, Pieter M1985Frisian reference grammarDordrechtForis Publications
  • Tiersma, Pieter M1999Frisian Reference GrammarAfûk, Ljouwert
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