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USAGE: German phonemic mergers [was Re: CHAT: Tacos et al.]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Saturday, December 22, 2001, 4:54
Quoting Andreas Johansson <and_yo@...>:

> Thomas Wier wrote: > >Quoting Tristan Alexander McLeay <anstouh@...>: > > > > > --- Muke Tever <alrivera@...> wrote: > > > > Actually isn't <oe> often also Anglicized as "long A" /ei/ ? > > > >Not Anglicized; many German dialects have unrounded front > >round vowels. You can see this clearly, for example, in > >most of Schiller's poetry: > > > > Aus der Wahrheit Feuerspiegel Out of the mirror of truth > > Lächelt sie den Forscher an. she smiles on the explorer. > > Zu der Tugend steilem Hügel To the arduous hill of virtue > > Leitet sie des Dulders Bahn. she leads the course of the > > (_An die Freude_) Sufferer. (To Joy) > > > ><Hügel> and <Feuerspiegel> do not rhyme in Standard German; > >they do for Schiller. > > I don't remember if it was Schiller, but I once saw a German poem > where _heute_ and _beide_ rhymed. Mustn't that sort of distinction > collapses cause some confusion?
It certainly can. But sometimes the drive for phonological unmarkedness is so strong that the language's speakers are willing to tolerate that. This shows up something important about language: that it's really a bunch of conflicting needs and drives, and sometimes one need or drive is allowed simply to override others. Why do some British dialects collapse /T/ and /f/ into one phoneme /f/, so that "loaf" is homophonous with "loath"? You tell me. It's something the speakers have decided is worth the price. ===================================================================== Thomas Wier <trwier@...> <> "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n / Dept. of Linguistics mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..." University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought / 1010 E. 59th Street and not complete one road that has no turn" Chicago, IL 60637 Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers