Faroese phonology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Faroese has a sound system similar to closely related Icelandic, including such features as an aspiration contrast in stop consonants and a lack of vowel length constrasts rare among Germanic languages.

Vowels[edit]

Grapheme Short Long
a /a/ /ɛaː/
á /ɔ/ /ɔaː/
e /ɛ/ /eː/
i /ɪ/ /iː/
í /ʊi/ /ʊiː/
o /ɔ/ /oː/
ó /œ/ /ɔuː/
u /ʊ/ /uː/
ú /ʏ/ /ʉuː/
y /ɪ/ /iː/
ý /ʊi/ /ʊiː/
æ /a/ /ɛaː/
ø /œ/ /øː/
ei /ai/ /aiː/
ey /ɛ/ /ɛiː/
oy /ɔi/ /ɔiː/

Due to significant differences in quality between short–long pairs, as seen in the table on the right, long and short vowels are likely separate phonemes; however, long vowels occur only in open syllables, and short vowels only in closed syllables.

Monophthongs
Front Back
Unrounded Rounded
High ɪ ʏ ʊ
Mid ɛ œøː ɔ
Low a
Diphthongs
Starting
point
Endpoint
High front High back Low
High ʊiʊiː ʉuː
Mid front ɛiː ɛaː
Mid back ɔiɔiː ɔuː ɔaː
Low aiaiː auː

There is considerable variation among dialects in the pronunciation of vowels.

Map showing major Faroese isoglosses

Although in other Germanic languages a short /e/ is common for inflectional endings, Faroese uses /a, i, u/. This means that there are no unstressed short vowels except for these three. Even if a short unstressed /e/ is seen in writing, it will be pronounced like /i/: áðrenn [ˈɔaːʐɪnː] (before). Very typical are endings like -ur, -ir, -ar. The dative is often indicated by -um, which is always pronounced [ʊn].

  • [a]bátar [ˈbɔaːtaɹ] (boats), kallar [ˈkadlaɹ] ((you) call, (he) calls)
  • [ɪ]gestir [ˈdʒɛstɪɹ] (guests), dugir [ˈduːɪɹ] ((you, he) can)
  • [ʊ]bátur [ˈbɔaːtʊɹ] (boat), gentur [dʒɛntʊɹ] (girls), rennur [ˈʐenːʊɹ] ((you) run, (he) runs).

In some dialects, unstressed /ʊ/ is realized as [ø] or is reduced further to [ə]. /ɪ/ goes under a similar reduction pattern so unstressed /ʊ/ and /ɪ/ can rhyme. This can cause spelling mistakes related to these two vowels. The following table displays the different realizations in different dialects.

Unstressed /i/ and /u/ in dialects[1]
Word Borðoy
Kunoy
Tórshavn
Viðoy
Svínoy
Fugloy
Suðuroy Elsewhere
(standard)
gulur (yellow) [ˈɡ̊uːləɹ] [ˈɡ̊uːləɹ] [ˈɡ̊uːløɹ] [ˈɡ̊uːlʊɹ]
gulir (yellow pl.) [ˈɡ̊uːləɹ] [ˈɡ̊uːləɹ] [ˈɡ̊uːløɹ] [ˈɡ̊uːlɪɹ]
bygdin (town) [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊d̥ɪn] [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊d̥ən] [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊d̥øn] [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊d̥ɪn]
bygdum (towns dat. pl.) [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊d̥ʊn] [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊d̥ən] [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊d̥øn] [ˈb̥ɪɡ̊dʊn]

Glide insertion[edit]

Faroese avoids having a hiatus between two vowels by inserting a glide. Orthographically, this is shown in three ways:

  1. vowel + ð + vowel
  2. vowel + g + vowel
  3. vowel + vowel

Typically, the first vowel is long and in words with two syllables always stressed, while the second vowel is short and unstressed. In Faroese, short and unstressed vowels can only be /a/, /i/, /u/.

Glide insertion[2]
First vowel Second vowel Examples
i [ɪ] u [ʊ] a [a]
i, y [iː] [j] [j] [j] sigið, siður, siga
í, ý [ʊiː] [j] [j] [j] mígi, mígur, míga
ey [ɛiː] [j] [j] [j] reyði, reyður, reyða
ei [aiː] [j] [j] [j] reiði, reiður, reiða
oy [ɔiː] [j] [j] [j] noyði, royður, royða
u [uː] [w] [w] [w] suði, mugu, suða
ó [ɔuː] [w] [w] [w] róði, róðu, Nóa
ú [ʉuː] [w] [w] [w] búði, búðu, túa
a, æ [ɛaː] [j] [v] ræði, æðu, glaða
á [ɔaː] [j] [v] ráði, fáur, ráða
e [eː] [j] [v] gleði, legu, gleða
o [oː] [j] [v] togið, smogu, roða
ø [øː] [j] [v] løgin, røðu, høgan

The value of the glide is determined by the surrounding vowels:

  1. [j]
    • "I-surrounding, type 1" – after /i, y, í, ý, ei, ey, oy/: bíða [ˈbʊija] (to wait), deyður [ˈdɛijʊɹ] (dead), seyður [ˈsɛijʊɹ] (sheep)
    • "I-surrounding, type 2" – between any vowel (except "u-vowels" /ó, u, ú/) and /i/: kvæði [ˈkvɛajɛ] (ballad), øði [ˈøːjɛ] (rage).
  2. [w] "U-surrounding, type 1" – after /ó, u, ú/: Óðin [ˈɔʊwɪn] (Odin), góðan morgun! [ˌɡɔʊwan ˈmɔɹɡʊn] (good morning!), suður [ˈsuːwʊɹ] (south), slóða [ˈslɔʊwa] (to make a trace).
  3. [v]
    • "U-surrounding, type 2" – between /a, á, e, æ, ø/ and /u/: áður [ˈɔavʊɹ] (before), leður [ˈleːvʊɹ] (leather), í klæðum [ʊɪˈklɛavʊn] (in clothes), í bløðum [ʊɪˈbløːvʊn] (in newspapers).
    • "A-surrounding, type 2"
      • These are exceptions (there is also a regular pronunciation): æða [ˈɛava] (eider-duck).
      • The past participles always have [j]: elskaðar [ˈɛlskajaɹ] (beloved, nom., acc. fem. pl.)
  4. Silent
    • "A-surrounding, type 1" – between /a, á, e, o/ and /a/ and in some words between æ, ø and a: ráða [ˈʐɔːa] (to advise), gleða [ˈɡ̊leːa] (to gladden, please), boða [ˈboːa] (to forebode), kvøða [ˈkvøːa] (to chant), røða [ˈʐøːa] (to make a speech)

Skerping[edit]

Skerping
Written Pronunciation instead of
-ógv- [ɛɡv] *[ɔuɡv]
-úgv- [ɪɡv] *[ʉuɡv]
-eyggj- [ɛdʒː] *[ɛidʒː]
-íggj-, -ýggj- [ʊdʒː] *[ʊidʒː]
-eiggj- [adʒː] *[aidʒː]
-oyggj- [ɔdʒː] *[ɔidʒː]

The so-called "skerping" (Thráinsson et al. use the term "Faroese Verschärfung" – in Faroese, skerping /ʃɛʂpɪŋɡ/ means "sharpening") is a typical phenomenon of fronting back vowels before [ɡv] and monophthongizing certain diphthongs before [dʒː]. Skerping is not indicated orthographically. These consonants occur often after /ó, ú/ (ógv, úgv) and /ey, í, ý, ei, oy/ when no other consonant is following.

  • [ɛɡv]: Jógvan [ˈjɛɡvan] (a form of the name John), Gjógv [dʒɛɡv] (cleft)
  • [ɪɡv]: kúgv [kɪɡv] (cow), trúgva [ˈtʂɪɡva] (believe), but: trúleysur [ˈtʂʉuːlɛisʊɹ] (faithless)
  • [ɛdʒː]: heyggjur [ˈhɛdʒːʊɹ] (high, burial mound), but heygnum [ˈhɛiːnʊn] (dat. sg. with suffix article)
  • [ʊdʒː]: nýggjur [ˈnʊdʒːʊɹ] (new m.), but nýtt [nʊiʰtː] (n.)
  • [adʒː]: beiggi [ˈbadʒːɪ] (brother)
  • [ɔdʒː]: oyggj [ɔdʒː] (island), but oynna [ˈɔidnːa] (acc. sg. with suffix article)

Consonants[edit]

Labial Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p
t

tʃʰ
k
Fricative
(Lateral)
f s ʂ ʐ ʃ h
ɬ
Approximant
(Lateral)
v ɹ j w
l

There are several phonological processes involved in Faroese, including:

  • Liquids are devoiced before voiceless consonants
  • Nasals generally assume the place of articulation and laryngeal settings of following consonants.
  • Velar stops palatalize to postalveolar affricates before /j/ /e/ /ɛ/ /i/ /ɪ/ and /ɛi/
  • /v/ becomes /f/ before voiceless consonants
  • /sk/ becomes /ʃ/ after /ɛi, ai, ɔi/ and before /j/
  • /ɹ/ retroflexes itself as well as following consonants in consonant clusters, yielding the allophones [ʂ ɭ ʈ ɳ] while /ɹ/ itself becomes [ɻ], example: rd [ɻʈ]; preaspirated consonats devoice the rhotic: example: rt [ɻ̊ʈ]
  • Pre-occlusion of original ll to [dl] and nn to [dn].
  • Intervocalically the aspirated consonants become pre-aspirated unless followed by a closed vowel. In clusters, the preaspiration merges with a preceding nasal or apical approximant, rendering them voiceless, example: nt [n̥t]

Omissions in consonant clusters[edit]

Faroese tends to omit the first or second consonant in clusters of different consonants:

  • fjals [fjals] (mountain's gen.) instead of *[fjadls] from [fjadl] (nom.). Other examples for genitives are: barns [ˈbans] (child's), vatns [van̥s] (lake's, water's).
  • hjálpti [jɔɬtɛ] (helped) past sg. instead of *[ˈjɔɬpta] from hjálpa [ˈjɔɬpa]. Other examples for past forms are: sigldi [ˈsɪldɛ] (sailed), yrkti [ˈɪʂtɛ] (wrote poetry).
  • homophone are fylgdi (followed) and fygldi (caught birds with net): [ˈfɪldɛ].
  • skt will be:
    1. [st] in words of more than one syllable: føroyskt [ˈføːʐɪst] (Faroese n. sg.;) russiskt [ˈʐʊsːɪst] (Russian n. sg.), íslendskt [ˈʊʃlɛŋ̊st] (Icelandic n. sg.).
    2. [kst] in monosyllables: enskt [ɛŋ̊kst] (English n. sg.), danskt [daŋ̊kst] (Danish n. sg.), franskt [fʂaŋ̊kst] (French n. sg.), spanskt [spaŋ̊kst] (Spanish n. sg.), svenskt [svɛŋ̊kst] (Swedish n. sg.), týskt [tʊkst] (German n. sg.).
      • However [ʂt] in: írskt [ʊʂt] (Irish n. sg.), norskt [nɔʂt] (Norwegian n. sg.)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Faroese: An Overview and Reference Grammar, 2004 (page 350)
  2. ^ Faroese: An Overview and Reference Grammar, 2004 (page 38)

References[edit]

  • Árnasen, Kristján (2011). The Phonology of Icelandic and Faroese. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199229317.