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Re: /S/ in old and middle High German; was: Vikings

From:Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 24, 2004, 20:52
Sally Caves wrote:
> ----- Original Message ----- > From: "John Cowan" <cowan@...> > >> In some cases, the cognates of these words >> already existed in English, as in the Norse borrowing "skirt" next to >> the native word "shirt". (Words beginning "sk" are almost always >> borrowings, because a sound-change during the Old English period >> changed initial "sk" to "sh".) > > > Do you mean to say, rather, that in earlier OE the "sc" sound was formerly > /sk/? I would think this was a continental change, and it would take an > expert in Old Saxon to confirm it. Nevertheless, this is interesting to > me, > and a subject on which I need informing, so I'm glad you raised the topic. > I'm interested in the |sc| and |sch| spellings in Old and Middle High > German. How confident are we that in the twelfth century |sch| was the /S/ > sound, and in what regions?
Not very at all. As far as I remember OHG had [sk] and MHG had [sx] just as modern Dutch. MHG had two /s/ sounds, one laminal /s_m/ corresponding in most cases to modern _ß/ss_ and one apical /s_a/ corresponding mostly to modern _s_ /z/. The apical phoneme had an [S]-like sound -- hence the Hungarian values of _s_ and _sz_! Now the apical vs. laminal distinction was lost or replaced by a voiced/voiceless distinction in most positions, but next to consonants the old apical /s_a/ got reinterpreted as /S/ once the old /s_ax/ had merged into /S/, which was fairly late. Hence spellings like _Schmerz_ and _Hirsch_ for MHG _smerz_ /s-amerts)/ and _hirs_ /hirs_a/. This is what I remember off the top of my head. To be sure you should check a historical grammar of High German. If you can't find one mail me offlist and I'll try to find one. After all Sweden used to be quite under the spell of Germany, so the material is easy to find here. -- /BP 8^) -- Benct Philip Jonsson -- melroch at melroch dot se Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant! (Tacitus)


Sally Caves <scaves@...>