Inari Saami, an endangered Finno-Ugric language of Northern Finland, is reported to have a three-way surface contrast in consonant length (short, halflong and long). We studied disyllabic words (C)V1CxV2(C) using data from 5 native speakers under two conditions, with short and long preceding vowel, V1, and found support for the claim that Inari Saami has a ternary contrast in consonant length. The three-way length contrast is more robust following a short V1. The duration of V2 correlates negatively with the length of the medial consonant. However, there is one major departure from this pattern. When both V1 and the medial consonant are long, V2 is also longer. This finding supports the idea that disyllables of this class differ from the others in their prosodic structure in having two metrical feet rather than one. This interpretation tallies with independent evidence from synchronic morphophonology and the historical development of the prosodic system of Inari Saami. Copyright

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Journal Phonetica
Bye, P. (Patrik), Sagulin, E. (Elin), & Toivonen, I. (2010). Phonetic duration, phonological quantity and prosodic structure in Inari Saami. Phonetica, 66(4), 199–221. doi:10.1159/000298583