Post silly questions here

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sporedandroid
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Post silly questions here

Postby sporedandroid » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:40 am

I just thought it would be fun to have one thread for questions that might not warrant a whole thread.

Do Germans really have a hard time distinguishing between W and V? Those sounds don’t sound similar to me at all, but I know W in German sounds like V.
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Iversen
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby Iversen » Thu Aug 08, 2019 11:53 am

If the Germans consistently pronounce "V" as "F" and "W" as "V" then they don't have a problem. Speakers of other languages may have a problem when the Germans pronounce shared vocabulary, but that's another matter. In Denmark we have some difficulty not to giggle when we hear the German pronunciation of "Vize-" because "at fise" in Danish means "to fart". But the Germans themselves have no problem with that pronunciation.

I find it more curious that they don't separate vowels with and without Umlaut in their dictionaries - they definitely sound different. By the way, in Slovak dictionaries "ch" is placed after "h" and not after "c". That detail still bothers me everytime I look things up in Slovak. And by the way (no. 2), I don't understand why Albanian chose to write the /euh/ sound as an umlauted vowel 'ë' (which is more common than the non-umlauted simple 'e'). They had the chance to choose a more rational system when they standardized their version of the Roman letters around 1900. And why do the Poles continue to have both a clean Z, a Ź and a Ż ? It is hard enough to remember all those diacritics, but you need good clear light and a magnifying glass to see the difference between Ź a Ż.

We just have to accept that few writing systems are simple and logical. But compared to English ...
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby Kat » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:45 pm

sporedandroid wrote:Do Germans really have a hard time distinguishing between W and V?

No, they are just pronounced a little differently than in English. I don't find it unusual that two different letters or combinations of letters can represent the same sound.

Iversen wrote:If the Germans consistently pronounce "V" as "F" and "W" as "V" then they don't have a problem.

I'm afraid we are not that consistent. Sometimes "V" is pronounced as "W" (similar to the English "V") and sometimes as "F".

"V" pronounced as "W": Vase, Venus, Virus, Veganer... > mostly loan words
"V" pronounced as "F": voll, vergessen, viel, vorn...

Edit:

And a silly question of my own: Why do the French only pronounce the first half of their words and swallow all the endings? Have they "always" done that? Is it the result of some kind of sound shift?
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby AML » Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:36 pm

What word do you struggle to pronounce in your native language? I don't like saying the word "asked". :?
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby rdearman » Thu Aug 08, 2019 3:45 pm

AML wrote:What word do you struggle to pronounce in your native language? I don't like saying the word "asked". :?

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sporedandroid
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby sporedandroid » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:01 pm

AML wrote:What word do you struggle to pronounce in your native language? I don't like saying the word "asked". :?

At one point the word “some” made me a bit nervous. Now I mostly struggle with loan words.
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby badger » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:03 pm

sporedandroid wrote:Do Germans really have a hard time distinguishing between W and V? Those sounds don’t sound similar to me at all, but I know W in German sounds like V.
FolksVagen

edit: I was rather surprised recently to discover that there are no natural Ws in French, after goodness knows how many years of learning French in school & it never having cropped up. there was reference to a 'wagon-restaurant' - ie dining car - in the FSI French course, with the w in wagon pronounced as v in the German manner.
Last edited by badger on Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby Ogrim » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:05 pm

Kat wrote:And a silly question of my own: Why do the French only pronounce the first half of their words and swallow all the endings? Have they "always" done that? Is it the result of some kind of sound shift?


French has certainly undergone radical phonetic changes from its Latin origin, more so than most other Romance languages. Vowel reduction and lenisation of consonants leading eventually to their disappearance has occured in Spanish, Poruguese and Catalan too, but not so much as in French. That is why AQUA has become "eau" and BELLUM "beau" etc. To put it a bit silly: The French like their words to be as short as possible, and that tendency ciontinues in everyday speech, so you get d'acc instead of d'accord, fac instead of faculté, bonapp for bon appetit.
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:24 pm

Kat wrote:And a silly question of my own: Why do the French only pronounce the first half of their words and swallow all the endings? Have they "always" done that? Is it the result of some kind of sound shift?


Perhaps Iversen has an answer. I think he studied Old French during his schooldays.
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Re: Post silly questions here

Postby Iversen » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:55 pm

Kat wrote:And a silly question of my own: Why do the French only pronounce the first half of their words and swallow all the endings? Have they "always" done that? Is it the result of some kind of sound shift?

jeff_lindqvist wrote:Perhaps Iversen has an answer. I think he studied Old French during his schooldays.


Well, I waited until my university years before I had my first peek at Ancient French, but I still have my books from back then - and just as well because this domain of knowledge doesn't seem to be much in favour these days. In one of those books (The 'Précis' by Togeby) it is stated at page 33 that the final stressless -e was pronounced at least until the 16. century, and the nasal consonants preceded by nasal vowels were also pronounced until the 16. century (p.28). On the other hand the simplification process started already in Vulgar Latin.

The earliest document which is seen as French is the Serments de Strasbourg, which I mentioned in my log four years ago:

Pro Deo amur et pro christian poblo et nostro commun salvament, d'ist di en avant, in quant Deus savir et podir me dunat, si salvarai eo cist meon fradre Karlo et in aiudha et in cadhuna cosa, si cum om per dreit son fradra salvar dift, in o quid il mi altresi fazet, et ab Ludher nul plaid nunquam prindrai, qui meon vol cist meon fradre Karle in damno sit

You can be fairly sure that all the final syllables in this were pronounced as written (otherwise they wouldn't have been written since there wasn't any old orthography around to spoil the spelling) - like the -e of Karle. And you can bet that "fazet" was pronounced just like that and not as modern "fait".

But this is old stuff from 842. There are many more sources available a few centuries later, including the poems of the trouvères (i.e. the Northern French collegues of the Occitan troubadours), and if you try to recite some of these poems you can probably feel that their rhythm depends on the final syllables being pronounced in their entirety. The following example is nicked from a poem by Conon de Béthune who probably was born around 1150:

Belle doce Dame chiere,
Vostre grans beautés entiere
M’a si pris
Ke, se iere em Paradis,
Si revenroie je arriere,
(...)


(da doum da doum da doum da doum...)

And this state of affairs should according to Togeby have continued for some 400 years more. The funny thing is that the pronunciation became more hurried and the final e's disappeared roughly at the same time where the French spelling was locked and carved into immortal stone by the newly invented Academy. I don't listen to French poetry if I can avoid it, but I suppose that one of the few places where you still can hear the old final e's is in recitations of oldfashioned poems with a fixed meter and rhymes and all that stuff.

But notice also that "me" + "a" has merged into "m'a" now - whereas the Serments still have "il mi altresi" .
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