Quantity contrast in Inari Saami: The role of pitch and intensity

Author(s): Helen Türk, Pärtel Lippus, Karl Pajusalu and Pire Teras


The paper investigates the variation of pitch and intensity as a feature of the quantity contrast in Inari Saami. Previous studies [1, 2] have shown that in the context of short vowels, an intervocalic consonant has three degrees of length, while after a long vowel the distinction is binary, and that there is also a compensatory lengthening mechanism between the segments within the foot. The research here is based on the same data that was used for studying the temporal characteristics of quantity. We analyze fundamental frequency of the whole disyllabic foot as well as the intensity of the intervocalic consonant and surrounding vowels. In other Finno-Ugric languages such as Estonian, Livonian and Lule Saami, these characteristics have been shown to be important in the realization of the quantity contrast. Our results indicate that in Inari Saami the interaction between the overall falling pitch contour and quantity is not as strong as it is in Estonian. However, in words with long geminates the pitch fall is shallower than in other word structures. Similar to Lule Saami, in the stressed first vowel the intensity increases with consonant quantity, while in the unstressed second vowel it decreases.