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57 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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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47 votes
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How did the generic masculine emerge?

In many Indo-European languages, like Latin, the masculine is less "marked" than the feminine, meaning that it's the more basic or fundamental form: the one you use by default unless there's ...
Draconis's user avatar
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43 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 ...
user6726's user avatar
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31 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 ...
user6726's user avatar
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16 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 (...
fdb's user avatar
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14 votes

Why did the pronunciation of the rhotic phoneme /r/ change after the 2ndWW in public speech?

The short answer to your question for both English and German is early twentieth century stage pronunciation, an artificial, overarticulated accent designed to project to the back rows of a theater ...
KarlG's user avatar
  • 241
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 ...
talkanat's user avatar
  • 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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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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 ...
melissa_boiko's user avatar
12 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, ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
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) ...
Jan's user avatar
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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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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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, ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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10 votes

What IPA Symbols Are Equivalent to Each of These Middle High German Diacritics?

Most of the quoted characters do not stand for a single phoneme, they are either just a spelling convention for the sequence of the two characters or a scribal abbreviation whose reading may depend on ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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 ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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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 ...
Adám's user avatar
  • 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 *-...
fdb's user avatar
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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 ...
user6726's user avatar
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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-...
David Vogt's user avatar
8 votes

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

Melissa and user6726 addressed the word Ananas quite nicely. But to respond to this part of your question: Since Hebrew should be older than German as it was spoken Adam and Eve and there should be ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
8 votes

Why do “reiß” and “reis” not have the same phonemes although they are pronounced the same?

The idea is, humans don't memorize every individual form of reisen separately. Instead, they memorize the rules for deriving reise, reist, and all the other forms from a single stem. (Look into "...
Draconis's user avatar
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7 votes
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German (-stell-) and Slavic (-stav-) languages: who was first?

Your compound examples are mostly calques, usually from German into Slavic but in fact often ultimately from Latin or French or Italian into both German and Slavic, in the middle ages. The calques ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
7 votes

West Germanic Th-Stopping

Th-stopping of original Proto-Germanic voiced /d~ð/ to /d/ in all contexts is normal for Old English. It seems to be a common feature of West Germanic languages. The modern-day /ð/ in "father" is due ...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.1k
7 votes

When did the sounds of 'w' and 'v' change in High German?

The change of /w/ to /v/ is not considered to be part of the High German Consonant Shift. It looks like it probably occurred later than that; it seems safe to date it after 500 AD and potentially as ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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7 votes
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Why is it problematic to assume a null morpheme signifying the singular number of nouns in German?

In short, assuming invisible stuff is always problematic from a theoretical point of view, because you can never really prove it's there, and even worse, you can never really prove it's not there - ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
7 votes
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Stark differences in French and German

The short answer is, sounds change really fast. Compare different regional accents in English (Southern, East Coast, Australian, Indian)—outside of Britain, all of these differences have arisen in the ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
7 votes

German Noun Roots of Germanic Origin with Multiple Non-Schwa Syllables

There may be a few, but I can't think of any that you haven't already mentioned. The reasons go back to Proto-Germanic. At some unknown point (after Grimm and Verner but before Common Germanic split, ...
Draconis's user avatar
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