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

Colin Fine colin at kindness.demon.co.uk
Thu Mar 31 16:31:58 EST 2005

Dorian E. Gray wrote:

> 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.
Oh, I hope not! (Respectful) argument is the spice of life.


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