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What does "long", "half-long", "short" and "extra short" mean? Specifically, what does it mean with respect to length of time? For example, is a half-long vowel really half as long as a long vowel? How much shorter than a long vowel is a short vowel? Half as short? One third as short? Those things are not explicitly explained in the article, but they should be, because they're not obvious. 2004-12-29T22:45Z 05:54, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

I think it's language-specific. At least, I've heard vowels described as short or long which sound long or short to my ear as a speaker of Australian English (which has a phonemic length contrast). I think the diff. b/n long and short is usually roughly 2×, but I'm not certain so I'm reluctant to add anything. — Felix the Cassowary 23:50, 23 August 2005 (UTC)
For Australian English, it seems that males have means of about 150 and 242 ms, and females have means of 172 and 281 ms for short and long vowels respectively: short vowels around 60 per cent of the length of long ones. This may be specific to AuE again, so I'm reluctant to add anything. From Cox (in press): The acoustic characterics of /hVd/ vowels in the speech of some Australian teenagers, Au. Journal of Linguistisc. — Felix the Cassowary 06:21, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

>>>>>>Attempts at showing the lengths as being 'isochronous' units flounder. The best thing I know to say is that, like tone, they are relative to immediate context. unlogged user>>>>>>

>>>>>>>This discussion could be updated if it brought in discussions from metrical phonology.

As for examples from American English, well, I'm not one for using minimal pairs to establish anything (as if we communicated meaning with one and two-syllable words anyway), but take for example the American English pronunciation of 'latter' vs. 'ladder'. If we treated it metrically, we might say there is some sort of lengthening of the medial consonant that distinguishes 'ladder' from 'latter'. Or are they really homophones (with soundalike allophones of different phonemes)? Using what others have said about beats, I'd like to think I add about 1/4 to 1/2 a beat to the medial sound of 'ladder'.

Hmm. As an american speaker, those sound the same to me. But I wouldn't rule out a difference in some dialects, though I'd sooner assume it would be in the first vowel of 'ladder,' not the medial consonant. What about this one: 'watt' vs. 'what' in RP (British) English? Assuming the speaker does not aspirate the W in 'what,' these two words have the same vowel quality in RP, don't they? But certainly a difference in length. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

What about Japanese consonants: is the 'k' in 'hikki' actally longer than the 'k' in 'hiki', or is it just perceived to be longer? (to make the word longer?) FT77 20:46, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

origin of word[edit]

Can you be more specific what "Greek" -eme is? −Woodstone 17:25, July 25, 2005 (UTC)

For God's sake, it means nothing at all. -ema is way too functional to mean something. It's just a suffixed root (again, not a suffix but a suffixed root, which is different) with the ending -ma, which usually shows that the Greek noun is neutral/neuter in grammatical gender. That's my take at least. Ask someone else to see what they think. 2004-12-29T22:45Z 18:17, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Where on earth did this term come from? I have a Ph.D. in Linguistics and specialize in phonology, but today is the first time I've encountered this term.

Google gives almost a thousand hits, take your pick. −Woodstone 22:58, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

About the term's origin, I always attributed the term to Pike (1948). Who in linguistics hasn't at least read of Pike? And isn't it a nice parallel piece of word derivation (we have phonemes, we have tonemes (Jones 1921), so why not chronemes?

Addendum: now I read that Jones also used the term, so I wonder if these are independent inventions of terms, or if Pike was citing Jones? Don't have enough of the original sources to figure it out.

One more thought: at least the chroneme deserves its parallel to phoneme more than toneme: that is, since the chroneme could still be treated segmentally, it is closer to a type of phoneme conceptually speaking than toneme, which is better treated prosodically and/or seen to spread across more than one segment.

What about Danish?[edit]

Danish also distinguishes words by vowel length; here are some minimal pairs--

  • værre ['vɛʁə] 'worse' vs. være ['vɛːʁə] 'to be'
  • bande ['bænə] 'to swear, use profanity' vs. bane ['bæːnə] 'path'
  • fyrre ['fɶʁə] 'forty' vs. føre ['fɶːʁə] 'to lead'
  • læsse ['lɛsə] 'to load' vs. læse ['lɛːsə] 'to read'

(This length-distinction occurs only in words of more than one syllable; however, the commonplace examples should convince you that Danes don't consider it trivial.)

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by ISNorden (talkcontribs) 10:13, 25 July 2006 AEST.

Are you asking us something, or telling us? —Felix the Cassowary 13:03, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Both: telling about an example the article doesn't mention, and asking whether those additions are appropriate as written. --Ingeborg S. Nordén 15:51, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me there are adequate examples on this page (your Danish examples might be more appropriate on Vowel length, but that also has a lot of examples). Also, the Chroneme is not the only way to describe vowel or consonant length. For instance, long vowels might be seen as two consecutive short vowels of identical quality. So I'd be reluctant to add examples to this page unless that languages has already been described as having the chroneme (rather than simply vowel length) in established literature. —Felix the Cassowary 12:36, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Incorrect IPA[edit]

The IPA in the second table is wrong. I think that the correct transcriptions for the second column are /ˈviːle/ and /ˈvile/. If someone else can confirm this please change it. hac (talk) 01:49, 2 August 2010 (UTC)


The article rightly points out that 'chroneme' has limited currency. I feel that, since this concept appears not to have been seriously put forward as a phonological entity since the days of Jones and Pike, it should be described also as obsolete. Does anyone disagree? RoachPeter (talk) 10:31, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

It's not so much obsolescent as stillborn. Jones coined it (c.1940) but it never caught on. You'd be hard-pressed to find any reference to the word which doesn't trace back to this wikipedia article - I could only find two, both of which mentioned it in the context of being a term proposed by Jones. Samatarou (talk) 04:00, 5 April 2013 (UTC)