A method of characterizing the sounds of the Finnish language that reduces the phoneme inventory from the fifty-three posited by structural linguistics to a minimum of nine underlying consonants and five vowels — or, if vowel gravity is marked in the phonology rather than with a morpheme feature FRONT, nineteen systematic phonemes at most. The representation used omits the fine diacritics of Finno-Ugric phonetic notation, and applies to dialectal as well as standard Finnish. In addition to its greater generality, the "short form" accounts for certain asymmetries and "phonotactics" that are otherwise unexplained and that are now taught as paradigms. It should be possible for the student to manage with only a base form and the most general rules of Finnish.
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