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Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Dziubalska-Kolaczyk, Katarzyna

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Volume 53, Issue 3


Vowel shortening in Persian: A phonological analysis

Aliyeh K.Z. Kambuziya / Amir Ghorbanpour / Nader Mahdipour
Published Online: 2017-10-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/psicl-2017-0014


This study is a phonological analysis of the process of vowel shortening in Persian. The aim was to find out whether there are any rules governing the different cases of vowel shortening in simple and complex words of formal standard Persian, and to analyse the conditions under which the long vowels /a, i, u/ change into the corresponding short vowels /æ, e, o/. In doing so, data were gathered from a 75000-word contemporary dictionary of Persian, and all the instances undergoing vowel shortening were extracted. Analysing the data showed that the change of /a/ into [æ] is the most frequent type of vowel shortening in Persian. In addition, it turned out that vowel shortening rarely occurs inside simple words in the formal standard form of the language (only in 35 entries out of 519 words in total; i.e. 6.7%); while on the contrary, in complex words it happens quite frequently. Furthermore, regarding the phonemic environment in which vowels undergo shortening, it was found that vowel shortening is most frequent before the glottal consonant /h/, next frequent before nasals /n/ and /m/, and then before /r/. The process also occurs rather frequently in morpheme-final positions in affixation. Lastly, it turns out that another important factor in vowel shortening is the syllable structure of the word; as the super-heavy and ultra-heavy syllables of Persian tend to lose one mora and become lighter in certain positions in the word.

Keywords: Vowel shortening; vowel length; syllable weight; Persian


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-10-19

Published in Print: 2017-10-26

Citation Information: Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics, Volume 53, Issue 3, Pages 373–397, ISSN (Online) 1897-7499, ISSN (Print) 0137-2459, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/psicl-2017-0014.

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