OT - German (was: Random DWJ discovery of the day)

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Thu Mar 31 15:26:18 EST 2005

Philip said...

>> But surely that's a perfectly regular pair of pronunciations, where in
>> the first case the pronunciation of "st" is modified by the leading
>> "ei" and in the second case, the pronunciation of "st" is dictated by
>> the fact that it's the start of the word.
> 'Fraid not.  It is not the spelling that determines this, it is how the 
> words are put together.  Not even many Germans know this, but there are 
> examples such as:
> Wachstube
> which if it means "wax tube" (wachs-tube) is pronounced -/s/- and if it 
> means "guard room" (wach-stube) is pronounced -/sh/-

Okay, I admit defeat on this point.  Obviously they didn't teach us enough 
about German pronunciation rules at school (by college we were assumed to 
know them).  It all made sense as soon as I read the above example, and I'm 
sure I knew it "by instinct", as it were, but I seem never to have been 
taught it as a formal role/phenomenon/thingy.

It has now been amply demonstrated that I know less than I thought I did 
about the relationship between German spelling and German pronunciation, so 
I shall go quietly away to absorb this new piece of information, and refrain 
from further comment.

Thank you for setting me right.


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