Germanistische Bibliothek

Band 21:
Bussmann, Kathrin S.: Diphthongs in Frisian. A Comparative Analysis of Phonemic Inventories Past and Present. XIV/271 S. - Heidelberg: Winter, 2004.
ISBN: 3-8253-5003-7

Frisian dialects have been particularly noted for the wealth and variety of their diphthongs. Using a set of specific phonological criteria, this study evaluates the diphthongs of Classical Old Frisian through to those of the modern Frisian dialects to determine which diphthongs actually hold phonemic status. For each posited inventory of phonemic diphthongs, those features which play a distinctive role are identified. A comparison with other West-Germanic diphthong inventories leads to a number of interesting findings. Unlike other West-Germanic languages, Frisian shows a general historical trend toward diphthong conservation, even in the case of highly “marked” diphthongs. Furthermore, Frisian diphthong accentuation allows for rising as well as falling diphthongs to occur within the same dialect, challenging previous assumptions that accentuation is always assigned through a binary parameter setting based on vocoid position. Finally, nuclear quantity is shown to play a phonemically-distinctive role between certain diphthongs. A new taxonomy of vowel-system types is consequently proposed, whereby quantitative oppositions between diphthongs can be represented.


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Acknowledgments S. XI
Abbreviations & Notations S. XIII
Map S. XV
1.   Introduction S. 1
2.   Old Frisian S. 21
3.   Modern Frisian S. 53
4.   Comparative analysis S. 139
5.   Conclusions S. 175
Appendix I: Old Frisian S. 179
Appendix II: Modern Frisian S. 193
References S. 261
Zusammenfassung S. 269
Lebenslauf S. 273


  • Walker, Alastair G. H. (2008): Rezension von: Kathrin S. Bussmann: Diphthongs in Frisian. A Comparative Analysis of Phonemic Inventories Past and Present (Germanistische Bibliothek. 21). In: Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik 75.2. Stuttgart: Steiner. S. 197-199.