Skolt Sami Language - Phonology - Suprasegmentals


There is one phonemic suprasegmental, the palatalizing suprasegmental that affects the pronunciation of an entire syllable. In written language the palatalizing suprasegmental is indicated with a free-standing acute accent between a stressed vowel and the following consonant, as follows:

vääˊrr 'mountain, hill' (suprasegmental palatalization present)
cf. väärr 'trip' (no suprasegmental palatalization)

The suprasegmental palatalization has three distinct phonetic effects:

  • The stressed vowel is pronounced as slightly more fronted in palatalized syllables than in non-palatalized ones.
  • When the palatalizing suprasegmental is present, the following consonant or consonant cluster is pronounced as weakly palatalized. It should be noted that suprasegmental palatalization is independent of segmental palatals: inherently palatal consonants (i.e. consonants with palatal place of articulation) such as the palatal glide /j/, the palatal nasal /ń/ (spelled <nj>) and the palatal lateral approximant /ĺ/ (spelled <lj>) can occur both in non-palatalized and suprasegmentally palatalized syllables.
  • If the word form is monosyllabic and ends in a consonant, a non-phonemic weakly voiced or unvoiced vowel is pronounced after the final consonant. This vowel is e-colored if suprasegmental palatalization is present, but a-colored if not.

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