This paper analyses the vowel system of the dialect spoken in the city of Zürich, which shows a systematic use of distinctive length contrasts. In order to ascertain the acoustic correlates of the quantity feature, an experimental study has been done, during which three speakers produced a corpus of carefully designed read speech. The duration of 162 vowels and 162 consonants has been measured, as well as the first two formants of 54 high vowels.
The results indicate duration as the only relevant correlate of vowel quantity in this dialect, with a mean V/V: ratio of 0.56. The duration of the following consonants does not vary significantly, nor are there any striking spectral differences between short and long high vowels. From a look at some intensity contours it appears that short vowels are not 'cut' - a finding in line with a recent areal typology of German dialects.