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The diachrony and synchrony of vowel quantity in English and Dutch

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This investigation of Open Syllable Lengthening in Middle English and Middle Dutch treats the changes as the result of listener-based reinterpretations of coarticulatory effects on vowel duration. OSL in English is a result of compensatory lengthening, which is analyzed as a hypocorrection. OSL in Middle Dutch involves a hypercorrection in which the duration of etymologically long vowels is reinterpreted as a purely phonetic correlate of stress in open syllables. The different phonological bases for OSL provide a diachronic explanation for the retention of contrastive vowel quantity in Modern English and its absence in Modern Dutch.

Keywords: Middle Dutch; Middle English; Open Syllable Lengthening; hypercorrection; hypocorrection; listener-based theory of sound change; vowel quantity

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Pennsylvania State University

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • International Journal for Historical Linguistics

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