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62 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

The World Atlas of Language Structures Online Chapter 49 lists 84 languages with at least 6 distinct cases (24 of them with at least 10 cases). A number of them are spoken in remote areas of Australia ...
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56 votes
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Why is “ß” not used in Swiss German?

It is because of the typewriter. A Swiss typewriter needs to support three languages: German, French, and Italian. Therefore on the Swiss typewriter, there was no ß key. It also has only lowercase ...
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52 votes
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Days of the week in Yiddish -- why so similar to Germanic?

The short answer is that Yiddish is a Germanic language, just one with a significant Hebrew/Aramaic adstrate. Despite many Hebrew borrowings, the majority of Yiddish vocabulary is Germanic, and in ...
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42 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

Though as some other posters have noted, some Russians may use dialect case forms, anyone who is out of diapers uses the full case system. Case is a core concept of the language. The very idea that ...
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  • 599
41 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

The question has been well answered for specifics. I'd only want to add that a little thought would have answered it in general: most of language learning happens before a learner ever goes to school, ...
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39 votes

Are the longest German and Turkish words really single words?

From the perspective of linguistics, the question is meaningless though well-intentioned. "Word" is not a well-defined technical concept in linguistics (or, some people may have concocted a ...
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30 votes

Why is “ß” not used in Swiss German?

The Swiss government has an explanation on p. 18. One contributing factor is typography, namely the rise of use of the Antiqua font, which was claimed to not include ß. I have no evaluation of the ...
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27 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

Morphological complexity as such as is not related to the level of schooling. Some of the most morphologically complex languages are spoken by people without any education. So, all Russian and German ...
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25 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

All people use cases in Russian. Uneducated people may make some typical mistakes however, so use cases and other things wrongly, but the number of such possible characteristic mistakes is limited. ...
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23 votes

Ei (egg in German) and eye; Auge (eye in German) and egg

New High German (NHG) Auge and English eye are believed to descend from Proto-Germanic *augan- and Proto-Indo-European *ōkū-. NHG Ei and English egg are from PG *ajjam- and PIE *ōiom. These words ...
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22 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

I live in Poland, and my first language is Polish, a slavic language somewhat related to Russian, with a quite complicated case system. From my experience, I can confirm what others have written: ...
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21 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

People who natively speak a language that has grammatical cases do generally use them commonly and consistently. Like all language features, case systems do also evolve, and it's quite common for ...
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19 votes

Do unschooled people use cases correctly, e.g. in Germany and in Russia?

Cases are properly used by pre-school children Any kid who can speak the language can use the cases properly. There may be edge cases where "the prescribed way to say this is X, don't use Y" - which ...
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  • 424
14 votes

What was the original pronunciation of 'ä' in German?

“Originally” is a problematic concept. The letter “ä” was not used in Old and Middle High German. The plural of gast is gesti in OHG and geste in MHG. In early New High German the letters ä, ö and ü (...
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14 votes

Are the longest German and Turkish words really single words?

In German, noun phrases that are used to describe a separate entity other than their individual nouns are written without spaces. Thus, the example of Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung may indeed ...
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  • 251
13 votes

Pronunciation of umlaut vowels in the history of German

Umlaut itself—as in the process, not the dots—was a sort of vowel harmony that was productive for a long time in Germanic. The thing you're asking about specifically is called i-umlaut; there was also ...
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12 votes

Ei (egg in German) and eye; Auge (eye in German) and egg

Notice the consistent phonetic correspondence between the English -(e)y- and the German -(i)g- or -(i)ch-: honey - Honig, yester(day) - gestern, day - Tag, eye - Auge, etc. The reason for this ...
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  • 321
12 votes

Why the words for pineapple sound so similar in Hebrew and in German?

Ananas is not from Hebrew. It is from a South American language, Old Tupi, from the same area where the fruit is native – the Amazon rainforest, not the Middle East. Tupi natives called the fruit ...
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11 votes
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What exactly is the "German Language"

Everything that is designated with the word German somehow concerns the continental Germanic dialect continuum. This designates a region from southern Denmark in the North to South Tyrol (Alto Adige) ...
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11 votes
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Does the English "Garden" come from the French "Jardin" or the German "Garten"?

First of all, a warning: all these etymologies are to some extent hypothetical. Especially when it gets back to Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European, there's no actual proof of how the language ...
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10 votes
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Why does German require extra commas that may be considered useless by speakers of other languages?

I think your question has a presupposition that is already wrong: It is not the language, and even less a language's grammar that makes orthography rules. Orthography is a set of prescriptive, ...
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10 votes
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Why did German <d> and <t> flip over?

You have a few different correspondences here; I'll go through them individually. day ~ dag ~ dag ~ Tag This is part of the second German consonant shift (or the High German consonant shift). Among ...
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10 votes
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Is there a clear linguistic reason for Swiss German not being considered its own Germanic language?

Is the premise of the question actually true? Alemannic German actually is considered its own language for many purposes. For example, it has its own ISO code, Wikipedia etc. As far as I know, ...
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9 votes
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GVS similarity in cognate words other Germanic Languages

The mainstream hypothesis is that the vowel found in words like white was pronounced as something like [iː] (a long close front vowel, like that in Modern German bieten) in Common Germanic, and then ...
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  • 16.8k
9 votes

Days of the week in Yiddish -- why so similar to Germanic?

Is it possible that alternate words for days of the week exist or at one time were used? No. The Jewish custom of using foreign names for parts of the calendar dates back far beyond the earliest ...
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  • 299
8 votes

German (-stell-) and Slavic (-stav-) languages: who was first?

I agree with czypsu that the two roots are probably not identical (though there is a theory that Proto-Germanic *staljan is not cognate with Greek stellō, but derives from *st(e)h₂- with the suffix *-...
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8 votes
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Two languages have the same homonym for two meanings but different phonetics

The words utrom, morgen, mañana don't all derive from the same word in Proto-Indo-european, so that is why they are pronounced differently. As to why "morning" and "tomorrow" are sufficiently similar ...
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  • 68.8k
8 votes

Why are English and German West Germanic languages while Scandinavian Germanic languages are an own branch

The simple answer is that these groupings are not based on present-day similarities, but on a genetic relationship, i.e. a common ancestor. In the case of the Germanic languages, this is Proto-...
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