Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: CHAT: geminate in _Messer_ (was: Announcement: New auxlang "Choton")

From:J. 'Mach' Wust <j_mach_wust@...>
Date:Monday, October 11, 2004, 10:09
On Mon, 11 Oct 2004 10:29:35 +0200, Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>

>> >> However, Swiss standard German geminates the |ss|, that is, has a >> >> long /s:/ as well in |Messer| as in |heissen| (or |heißen|). So this >> >> doesn't make any distinction. >> > >> >Neat. Are there any medial short [s], making for a a three-way contrast >> >/s:/~/s/~/z/ in the Swiss standard? >> >> We have |reissen| ['raIs:(@)n] vs. |reisen| ['raIs(@)n]. The [s: / s] >> contrast corresponds to the [s / z] contrast of other varieties of >> standard German. It's often spelled [s: / z_0] or even [s / z_0] in >> order to make this correspondance more obvious. > >Would I be correct to infer that this is a retention of an older state of >affairs? The orthography rather suggests this than the "standard standard" >/s/~/z/ contrast, after all.
I wouldn't affirm this. The standard began as a written language only, and was pronounced according to local dialects. The modern "standard standard" pronunciation didn't develop until the 19th century, and precisely in areas where the standard had become a spoken language, that is, in (educated) northern Germany. In Switzerland, the standard isn't a spoken language, and thus it's pronunciation is very litteral and influenced by the local dialects. Now the Swiss dialects share many features with Middle High German, e.g. the diphthongs /i@, u@, y@/ (modern standard /i:, u:, y:/) or the monophthongs /i:, u:, y:/ (modern standard /aI, aU, OY/). However, that's not because they're more archaic than the standard, but rather because Middle High German (the over-regional standard of the Middle Ages) was mainly based on alemannic dialects, whereas the modern standard is based on eastern Middle German dialects that already showed many features of the modern standard back in the Middle Ages: | Alemannic | Eastern Middle German ------------|-----------|---------------------- Middle Ages | standard | dialectal nowadays | dialectal | standard That is, I don't think that features like the lack of voiced fricatives (except for /v/ that goes back to older [w]) or stops can be considered archaisms, but rather "meridionalisms", that is, features of southern German that don't change through time. gry@s: j. 'mach' wust