Diphthongs and triphthongs in the Kihnu variety of Estonian


The main focus of the current study is on the investigation of component durations in diphthongs in the second (Q2) and third (Q3) quantity degree. Additionally, temporal patterns of triphthongs as well as the quality of monophthongs, diphthongs and triphthongs is studied. The analysis is based on read materials from 13 speakers of the Kihnu variety of Estonian. Application of the method of formant dynamics enables to follow the change in vowel quality throughout the whole vowel. While monophthongs have short trajectories, indicating that the vowel quality stays roughly the same around the target, the trajectories of diphthongs are longer connecting the two target vowels. The formant trajectories of triphthongs are the longest. It is shown that compared to long vowels short vowels in Kihnu are more centralised, which is also the case in Standard Estonian. Long monophthongs in Q2 and Q3 do not differ in quality. The results on temporal characteristics are in line with findings from Standard Estonian: long monophthongs and diphthongs are of similar length, both being longer in Q3. It was found that the first diphthong component is always shorter than the second one, and that both diphthong components are longer in Q3 than in Q2. These findings support earlier observations by Ilse Lehiste (1970). In triphthongs, the first and the second components are of more or less equal duration being considerably shorter than the third component which comprises on average 44 % of the total duration of the triphthong.