Vowel Length contrasts

In Kinyarwanda, there are both short and long vowels. Here are some examples of minimal pairs (words distinguished just by one sound):

Standard orthography Phonetic transcription Gloss
gusiba [gusiβaʰ] "to erase"
gusiba [gusi:βaʰ] "to be absent"
gutaka [gutakaʰ] "to scream"
gutaka [guta:kaʰ] "to decorate"
urutoki [uɾutociʰ] "finger"
urutoki [uɾuto:ciʰ] "banana grove"

The long vowels are longer in duration than the short vowels, but are the same in quality. For four speakers, the mean duration of long vowels in penultimate position was 169 ms., while that for short vowels in the same position was 96 ms. (Myers 2005: 433).

Myers, S. (2005). Vowel duration and neutralization of vowel length contrasts in Kinyarwanda. Journal of Phonetics 33. 427-446.