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Danish was:Re: NATLANG ruki-rule in Slavic

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Monday, August 18, 2003, 17:39
>That depends alot on the particular Danes speaking. An educated Copenhagener >is not particularly hard to understand if he/she makes a bit of an effort to >speak reasonably slowly and clearly
I'm a little surprised that you don't have much difficulty with Copenhageners, because koebenhovnsk is more or less what I speak. There's a lot of glottalization in that dialect, and I would have thought that that would create a problem. (People have told me that sjaelandsk has more glottal stops.) I think the key must be "speaks reasonably slowly and clearly."
> A Jutlandish dialect speaker, OTOH, is well nigh totally >incomprehensible to me.
I didn't get to travel hardly at all within the country, so I haven't really heard jysk. Though I have seen Babettes Gaesebud, and presumably the dialog (that wasn't in French or Swedish) must have been in some form of vestjysk. I didn't really have trouble with it. (I had to listen really hard to the Swedish, though -- and sometimes keep an eye on the English subtitles.) Though, the thing is, I already speak one dialect of Danish, so it is perhaps not so difficult for me to listen to another dialect.
>The most easily understandable Danish I've ever heard was from an Icelandic >minister at a meeting of the Nordic Council; he didn't have the lax >pronunciation of just about everything common among native Danes.
"Lax" would certainly be the word that you're looking for here. I really think that a lot of that laxity is simply built into modern Danish phonology. There is an awful lot of lenition (and an awful lot of glottal stops, some of them replacing stop consonants). Lots of /g/'s turn to /j/'s and then go on to help form dipphthongs. I think the vowels have shifted somewhat. (Otherwise how do you get /leg/ --> [laj] ?) (I think Danish is much more regular to spell than Modern English, but the orthography is anything but transparent.) The alveolar stops tend to be very weak (or very strange) unless they are word-initial. So some of the "laxity" is simply a fact of life. But, OTOH, there is just plain old sloppiness e.g. saying "Det ve' je' ig' " when what the speaker should have said was, "Det ved jeg ikke." But there is never going to be a [t] on the end of 'det' and the /k/ in 'ikke' is always going to be pronounced as [g], and that final /e/ will always be nearly elided in that particular word. But young Danes especially, in my experience, don't speak as carefully as they could. (But then, the same is really true of the majority of Americans. We really have a schwa problem over here. I've tried to work on my vowel pronunciation so that my children will learn to speak nicely. So far, it seems to be working; when I teach my daughter her spelling words, we have relatively little confusion over which vowel to use in an unstressed syllable, which means that I am not pronouncing the words with a completely neutalized vowel, and she learning a UR of the words with the correct vowels, because she doesn't pronounce the vowels as complete schwas either.) Isidora


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>