ASA 130th Meeting - St. Louis, MO - 1995 Nov 27 .. Dec 01

4pSC12. The long/short vowel distinction in Maori---A preliminary study.

Kirk P. H. Sullivan

Dept. Phonetics, Umea Univ., S-901 87 Umea, Sweden

In Maori, vowels are considered to be intrinsically either long or short. Orthographically a long vowel is marked with a macron. The distinction in vowel length is used contrastively and results in word pairs such as matau (to know) and matau (right, as in not left). There are inconsistencies with length marking even internally within Maori language dictionaries [e.g., Williams, A Dictionary of the Maori Language (GP, 1971)]. The long vowels have previously been considered sequences of two identical short vowels [Krupa, Morpheme and Word in Maori (Mouton, 1966)]. The question of what phonetically distinguishes a short vowel from a long vowel and whether these can be distinguished from two consecutive examples of the same short vowel at a morpheme boundary, for example, arises. The current preliminary study aims to examine the durational range of long and short vowels and to determine the factors to be investigated in a longer study. The results relate to one male speaker. Whether a vowel was long or short was marked in the orthographic version of the data by a single speaker. The results are discussed in relation to the factors to be investigated in further studies.