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Open Access Distinctive vowel heights in Limburgish and Bavarian

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Standard works on linguistics give Amstetten Bavarian (Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996) and Weert Limburgish (Ladefoged 2007) as examples of languages with four or five distinctive vowel heights. Other Limburgish and East Central Bavarian dialects are also described with four or five heights. If the reports are correct, these vowel systems have significant typological importance. They would invalidate the neutral vowel theory which proposes that no language will have more than three distinctive heights or depths on any vocalic plane (Hitch 2017). It is proposed that semi-diphthongality and laxness are distinctive features in Limburgish which permit analyses of three distinctive heights. Similarly, it is proposed that laxness is distinctive in the relevant Bavarian dialects and that they have three distinctive heights.

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Keywords: Amstetten Bavarian; Austrian German; Dutch; Weert Limburgish; vowel height; vowel systems; vowel typology; vowel universals

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2021

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  • Taal en Tongval is een wetenschappelijk tijdschrift over taalvariatie in Nederland en Vlaanderen, waarin ook aandacht wordt geschonken aan naburige taalgebieden en aan het Nederlands verwante talen. Alle vormen van variatie kunnen worden besproken zoals geografische, sociale, etnische, stilistische en diachrone variatie. Verder mogen daarbij ook alle aspecten van de menselijke taal aan de orde komen. Het blad staat zowel open voor empirisch werk als voor studies die een verbinding leggen tussen taalvariatie en theoretische taalkunde.

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    Taal en Tongval. Language Variation in the Low Countries is a journal devoted to the scientific study of language variation in the Netherlands and Flanders, in neighbouring areas and in languages related to Dutch. All types of variation are covered, including but not restricted to geographical, social, ethnic, stylistic and diachronic variation. Articles may deal with all aspects of human language. The journal welcomes both empirical work as studies linking language variation to developments in theoretical linguistics.

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