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compensatory lengthening

noun, Historical Linguistics.
the lengthening of a vowel when a following consonant is weakened or lost, as the change from Old English niht [nikht] /nɪxt/ (Show IPA) to night [nahyt] /naɪt/ (Show IPA) with loss of [kh] /x/ (Show IPA) and lengthening of [i] /ɪ/ (Show IPA) to a vowel that eventually became [ahy] /aɪ/ (Show IPA). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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