Working paper Open Access

A phonetic study of Sinhala syllable rhymes

Letterman, Rebecca S.

The shortening of lexically long vowels in closed syllables has been claimed to be a phonetic universal. This study therefore explores the phonetic duration of vowels and consonants of Sinhala in various syllable rhymes.

Three primary questions are addressed:

1) Do lexically long vowels shorten in closed syllables?

2) Do consonants following long vowels shorten? and

3) Is there any phonetic evidence for trimoraic shortening?

Two native Sinhala speakers read prepared word lists, providing a total of approximately 940 tokens, each of which was digitized and segmented using both a spectrogram and wave form.

The results indicate that in Sinhala, lexically long vowels do not shorten significantly in closed syllables, although following consonants do shorten significantly after lexically long vowels. Implications of these results are discussed, as well as how the durational results pertain to the phonological
issue of trimoraic shortening.

This paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see
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