Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

USAGE: German pronunciation (was Re: How to Make Chicken Cacciatore)

From:Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Date:Thursday, July 22, 2004, 4:56
On Wed, 21 Jul 2004 22:32:00 -0000, Christian Thalmann <cinga@...> wrote:
> --- In, "Mark J. Reed" <markjreed@M...> wrote: > > > The example given in my dictionary is the final sound of the German > > words |Rat| and |Rad|. Both are pronounced the same way, even though > > /t/ and /d/ are separate phonemes in other environments. So instead > > of writing /Rat/ or /Rad/, either of which implies a distinction which > > is not made, you can use archiphonetic notation, which normally involves > > slashes around the symbol for one of the phonemes involved in the > > merger: /Ra/t// > > I don't know how "real" Germans treat the subject, but I > personally distinguish voiced and unvoiced stops even finally, > and always find it strange when people claim such words to > sound identical.
The people I know pronounce them identically - or so it seems to me. Many North Germans also regularly have problems with English words differing only in final voiced vs. unvoiced consonants; the pair "life" vs. "live" is especially problematic, perhaps because "live" is also a German word - but which is often spelled "life" (e.g. "Life-Aufführung" for a live production), perhaps because the person knows that "life" is also an English word.
> While both might be pronounced voiceless in this position, I > give the latter a longer and more intense closure (obstruction? > intermission of airflow? I don't know the exact term here). I > believe this is called a fortis/lenis distinction.
I've heard that some dialects use fortis/lenis rather than voiced/unvoiced, which can cause misunderstanding to speakers of other dialects; for example, a friend of mine from Saxony once pronounced "begleiten" (accompany) in a way that I heard as "bekleiden" (clothe). When I read about the fortis/lenis thing later, I presume that was because she made a different distinction than the ones I was used to and I misassigned her phones to phonemes, rather than that she "mixed up her sounds". Some also say that Saxons pronounce all stops voiced, presumably also due to the same distinction in a feature that is not phonemic for many other speakers of German.
> Is this a personal, regional or national idiolect, or does it > apply to all of the German language domain?
I'd say it's an idiolect or regiolect. As far as I'm away, "standard" German does not distinguish between voiced and unvoiced final consonants at all. (Hence the mnemonic devices taught to children to inflect the word to dermine its spelling - since adding a suffix beginning with a vowel such as a plural suffix -en/-er for nouns or a comparative suffix -er for adjectives will cause the consonant to take on its "true" pronunciation as voiced or unvoiced.) Cheers, -- Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>