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fortis vs lenis (was Re: German style orthography)

From:Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>
Date:Saturday, December 11, 2004, 18:41
*shrugs* I was always unsure about fortis vs lenis. I've been told I
think that Dutch distinguishes fortis vs lenis rather than voiced vs
voiceless.... I could be wrong though. I've even heard some people argue
that voicing isn't the primary distinction in English (I can't remember
what they were arguing was the primary distinction...), but I wasn't
convinced that they weren't just being difficult. Do the other germanic
languages also aspirate unvoiced stops like English does? Another thing
I've often wondered: english has unvoiced aspirated stops. Often you
hear about languages that have an unvoiced vs voiced vs aspirate three
way distinction in stops. Can you find voiced aspirated stops? And if
you can, is there any language with a four way distinction unvoiced
unaspirated, unvoiced aspirated, voiced unaspirated, and voiced
aspirated? Although a voiced aspirated stop would probably easily
migrate to a voiced fricative..... "softening" of voiced stops as in
Spanish seems pretty common in languages anyway, and aspiration tends to
make consonants even "softer" to my ears.

>>It seems really strange to me that s is always voiced at the start of >>words... how did this arise? I could understand it if (since I'm >>assuming that originally german had no contrast between [s] and [z]) s >>was always [z] intervocally, but.. I don't know, I'd just really like to >>know how it became voiced at the start of all native german words. >> >> > >It's not like this in all varieties of standard German. Southern standard >German has no voiced fricatives (except for /v/, which might as well be >considered an approximant /v\/) and not voiced stops at all. The southern >German opposition between /s/ and /z/ (e.g. in words such as _reissen_ >/'raIs@n/ "to rip" vs. _reisen_ /'raIz@n/ "to travel") is often described as >an opposition of fortis vs. lenis, though I've always had the impression >that it'd be an opposition of long consonant vs. short consonant. > >I imagine that High German (that is, southern German) formerly had an >opposition of short and long consonants, such as is still reflected in the >orthography and preserved in certain varieties, e.g. many Swiss dialects. I >also imagine there might have been an interrelation of only having voiceless >fricatives/stops and of distinguishing short and long consonants. I don't >know it for sure. > >I also imagine, again without any source, that the voiced stops/fricatives >were always present in Low German. Maybe their occurrence in the actual >"standard" pronunciation is due to a Low German substratum? For sure, the >actual prescriptive standard pronunciation is the pronunciation of the >educated upper class of northern German cities. > >gry@s: >j. 'mach' wust > > > >


Rene Uittenbogaard <ruittenb@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>