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Re: USAGE: rhotics (was: Advanced English + Babel text)

From:Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Date:Saturday, November 6, 2004, 8:49
On Fri, 5 Nov 2004 17:23:32 +0100 (CET), Steven Williams
<feurieaux@...> wrote:
> --- Philip Newton <philip.newton@...> > [r\OUt_?]: > > /x/'s that are realised as [x] or [C] > > depending on the environment. (If, indeed, they > > are one phoneme, which is, I believe, > > still a question debated by Germanists.) > > That doesn't make sense, that they're debating whether > [x] and [C] are one phoneme or not; the two sounds are > in complementary distribution.
*nods* Just about. The main sticky bit is the productive diminutive suffix -chen, which always has [C] (for those who have both allophones -- some have only [x], for example), and while it *usually* triggers umlaut in the final syllable (thus conforming to the rule that /x/ is [C] after a front vowel), apparently there are lects where this is not true or, at least, not universal, and even in the standard language there's the one anomalous word "Frauchen" (female master, from the point of view of a dog), which should in theory be *Fräuchen.
> There are no minimal pairs (that I can think of).
"Frauchen" forms a near-minimal pair with "fauchen" (to hiss or roar, e.g. like a dragon), though there's no completely minimal pair I'm aware of, either. Occasionally, the pair "Kuhchen" / "Kuchen" (little cow / cake) is brought up, for those for whom -chen doesn't invariably trigger umlaut (it'd be "Kühchen" or, more likely, "Kühlein" in my lect), but it's a bit constructed. I've heard that some one-phoneme people explain this by saying that "/x/ is [C] after a front vowel or morpheme-initially", though this brings in the concept of "morpheme boundary" as a valid phonemic environment.
> Therefore, the distinction is not phonetic, only allophonic.
Probably. But, I believe, this is not a complete consensus. Cheers, -- Philip Newton <philip.newton@...> Watch the Reply-To