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

Colin Fine colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Thu Mar 31 16:25:29 EST 2005

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) wrote:

>PS I only managed the first couple of pages of "Teach yourself Irish", so I can't really comment on Irish spelling conventions.  But I think the Russians have a much easier system:
>A consonant is soft (palatalised) if and only if it is followed by a soft vowel.
Yes. Except that <i> is soft and <y> hard, but <sh> and <k> can only be 
followed by <i>, not <y> (but it's pronounced <y> after <sh>), and 
<shch> is alway soft, so you don't have to write the soft vowels <ja> or 
<ju> after it, and ...

>There are two silent vowels, one soft and one hard, that you can use to make the consonants do the right thing.  Unlike in Irish, these two vowels are always silent, which is a big help!
Not any more. The soft sign (mjagkij znak) softens (palatalises) a final 
consonant, but since the 1917 spelling reforms the hard sign (tvjordyj 
znak) is only used in a few words to separate a prefix from a following 
soft vowel, and actually gets pronounced as a consonantal 'y'. (eg 
<s"jest'> - perfective of <jest'> to eat, IIRC)


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