Mechanics of the erroneous theory of three distinctive quantities in Estonian

In his paper „Estonian word prosody in the Southern Finnic context” (Keel ja Kirjandus 2014, No. 8–9, pp. 575–589) Karl Pajusalu has recently  analysed the prosodic differences and peculiarities of North Estonian, Votic, Livonian and South Estonian. In both North and South Estonian, Pajusalu prefers the concepts of foot and foot isochrony as the most adequate model of Estonian word prosody. However, there are many unsolved problems connected with the calculation of the duration ratio of the first and second syllables of a word. Pajusalu’s paper and a lot of research conducted during the last decades fail to pay due attention to the methods of phonological analysis used and results obtained in the 1960s –1990s. The most important achievement in the research of Estonian prosody in the years mentioned was the abandoning of the concept of three phonological degrees of quantity in Estonian and a re-establishment of the stressed syllable in its rights as the main domain of phonologically relevant quantity characteristics. Pajusalu’s paper reflects these developments rather poorly. Pajusalu (and, earlier, Ilse Lehiste) constructs three contrasting word quantities using the position of a syllable-initial consonant as the first quantity degree, although in this position no quantity contrast is possible. This should be taken into account when counting the quantity degrees in Estonian words.