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On the nature of Estonian quantity system

The article surveys the recent acoustic and perceptual studies of Estonian phonetic quantity and introduces some new phonological interpretations of the ternary opposition of the Estonian quantity degrees. Answering to Mati Hint’s (2015) criticism, which is based on a theory of syllable quantity, the Estonian opposition of three quantity degrees is explained as a property of minimally disyllabic metrical feet.  Acoustically as well as perceptually, Estonian quantity degrees are a complex phenomenon depending on durational differences, pitch contour, intensity, sound quality, and the way of binding of the first and second syllables (cf. Lippus et al. 2013). The article points out that those phonological analyses of Estonian quantity degrees, which examine the quantity within a foot (e.g. Prillop 2013), are consistent with recent acoustic and perceptual results.