Dialect variation and the Dutch diminutive

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In Dutch, the diminutive stem&#8217;s prosodic shape determines whether or not schwa follows base nouns ending in sonorants: schwa after light stems (<i>ball-e-tje</i> &#8216;little ball&#8217;) but no schwa after heavy stems (<i>laan-tje</i> &#8216;little lane&#8217;) or disyllables (<i>bakker-tje</i> &#8216;little baker&#8217;). Schwa lengthens light stems to fit a disyllabic template specifying the necessary stem shape for diminutivisation. This paper shows that this template uses the moraic trochee of Early Germanic rather than the syllabic trochee of Modern Dutch. Further supporting evidence comes from dialects where vowel lengthening can also satisfy the template. Moreover, dialect variation also shows the expansion of the template in some dialects, but loss in others.


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