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Auteur: Natalia KUZNETSOVA

How do ternary contrasts evolve: The case of Ingrian

Abstract/Résumé: The phonology of the Soikkola dialect of Ingrian (a Finnic language of 150 speakers) contains a rare feature — a ternary quantity contrast. It exists in at least four positions in VC̄V, VRC̄V and VVC̄V nuclei of bi- and trisyllabic feet: (1) [kanà] ‘hen:NOM’ — [kan̆nà] ‘hen:ILL’ — [linnà] ‘town:ILL’; (2) [kar̀Dàš] ‘card:IN’ — [kart̀à] ‘tin:PART’ — [kart̆tà] ‘card:PART’, [mā̀Dà] ‘sleep:IMPRS’ — [łūt̀à] ‘broom:PART’ — [ł`ūttà] ‘rely:INF’; (3) [kaDājà] ‘juniper:PART’ — [kat̀àjă] ‘juniper:NOM’ — [kattojă] ‘roof:PL:PART’; (4) [karDăł̆łĕ] ‘card:ALL’ — [kart̀ŏjă] ‘tin:PL:PART’ — [karttŏjă] ‘card:PL:PART’. The typological predictions in Blevins (2004: 202) are that (1) ternary quantity contrasts are unstable due to a small phonetic distance between categories; and (2) a common type of sound change will be the merger of the second and the third length grade into one long. In compliance with (1), Soikkola is the only Ingrian dialect to maintain a ternary contrast, which obviously existed in Proto-Ingrian. The other three dialects have lost it, and in Soikkola it is not preserved in all the varieties and word structures. However, the evolution of the contrast in the Ingrian dialects partly contradicts the assumption (2). The second and the third length grades have merged into one long everywhere, apart for the positions (2)–(4) in the Lower Luga dialect. Here, the second grade merged back with the first one, from which it had once developed. The deviation happened under the pressure of a Sprachbund with cognate languages, Votic, Ingrian Finnish and Estonian, where the original short consonants are preserved in place of the Ingrian innovative second grade. The analogical pressure from extremely similar idioms has diverted the default way of development in Lower Luga Ingrian. The dynamic tendencies observed in Soikkola suggest another further evolutionary way for ternary quantity contrasts. An unstable phonological contrast may be maintained due to coexisting phonetic contrasts (Blevins 2004: 209). In Soikkola, there is an additional voicing contrast reinforcing the ternary quantity contrast of stops and s, the only phonemes having the latter in the positions (2) and (4). Also, the negative durational ratio of consonants participating in the ternary contrast to the vowels of the following syllable is emerging. Similar quantitative and tonal correlations exist in other languages with ternary quantity contrasts (Estonian, Saami, Dinka). It seems that ternary quantity contrasts, if maintained, would necessarily increasingly shift to the suprasegmental level. Acknowledgements Supported by the Russian Foundation for Humanities (prj 11-04-00172а) and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation. References Blevins 2004 — J. Blevins. Evolutionary phonology: The emergence of sound patterns. Cambridge, 2004.