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Dutch does not allow for geminate consonants within prosodic words. As a result, sequences of two identical consonants within a prosodic word that arise due to morphological processes are simplified, i.e. degeminated. This process is optional in larger domains, which means that geminates may occur in compounds or phonological phrases (Booij 1995: 68-69).

The examples in (1) illustrate the degemination process. Note that the degemination process can interact with syllable structure; the degeminated consonant after a B-class vowel becomes ambisyllabic as in (1c), final devoicing (1d) or nasal assimilation (1e).

a. eet /et+t/ [et] eat (3SG-PRS)
b. grootte /ɣrot+tə/ [ˈɣrotə] size
c. zette /zɛt+tə/ [zɛtə] put (PST)
d. gevoed /ɣə+vud+d/ [ɣə.ˈvut] feed (PST-PTCP)
e. onmiddellijk /ɔn+mɪdəl+lək/ [ɔˈmɪdələk] immediately

Whereas degemination is obligatory within prosodic words, it is optional in compounds or phonological phrases, i.e. across prosodic word boundaries. So, degemination is possible, as illustrated in (2a). Notice that syllable-final devoicing does not apply in this or similar cases (given the suitable phonological environment). In less frequent words, the geminate consonant is not degeminated, i.e. partially deleted, but also not realized as two separate units either. Instead, the consonant is pronounced as phonetically long (2b). This suggests that the `geminate' might be ambisyllabic.

a. handdoek /hɑnd+duk/ [ˈhɑnduk] towel (cf. hand [hɑnt] )
      tafellaken /tafəl+lakən/ [ˈtafəlakə(n)] table cloth
      plaaggeest /plax+xest/ [ˈplaxest] bully, teaser
b. berggeit /bɛrx+xɛit/ [ˈbɛrxːɛit] / [ˈbɛrχːɛit] mountain goat

In addition, there are pairs of complex words that differ only in whether or not they contain a geminate, as in (3). For these examples, two differing syllable structures, i.e. with or without an ambisyllabic consonant, might be proposed.

a. verassen /vɛr+ɑsən/ [vɛrɑsə(n)] reincinerate
      verrassen /vɛr+rɑsən/ [vɛrːɑsə(n)] surprise
b. nep-plant /nɛp+plɑnt/ [ˈnɛpːlɑnt] / [ˈnɛp.plɑnt] fake plant
      nep-land /nɛp+lɑnd/ [ˈnɛp.lɑnt] fake country
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
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