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YAGST: Why sp-, st- in German?

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  • Carsten Becker
    Hi, I m just wondering whether there s any reason why the spelling of [ʃp] and [ʃt] in German is sp- and st-, not *schp- and *scht- in analogy to other sC-
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 4, 2010
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      Hi,

      I'm just wondering whether there's any reason why the spelling of [ʃp]
      and [ʃt] in German is sp- and st-, not *schp- and *scht- in analogy to
      other sC- combinations. The sound change s > S / #_C is realized in
      orthography for other possible combinations as well, after all, e.g.
      slac > Schlag, smerze > Schmerz, snê > Schnee, swester > Schwester.
      According to my MHG dictionary, ?/sr/ is spelled <schr> already, at
      least in the modern normalized orthography.

      Carsten

      PS: YAGST = YA German Spelling T

      --
      Ayeri Grammar (under construction): http://bit.ly/9dSyTI (PDF)
      Der Sprachbaukasten: http://sanstitre.nfshost.com/sbk
    • J. 'Mach' Wust
      ... I rather wonder why changed to the rather clumsy spellings . As you have said, the spelling already existed. The
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 4, 2010
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        On Sat, 4 Dec 2010 13:46:09 +0100, Carsten Becker wrote:

        >I'm just wondering whether there's any reason why the spelling of [ʃp]
        >and [ʃt] in German is sp- and st-, not *schp- and *scht- in analogy to
        >other sC- combinations. The sound change s > S / #_C is realized in
        >orthography for other possible combinations as well, after all, e.g.
        >slac > Schlag, smerze > Schmerz, snê > Schnee, swester > Schwester.
        >According to my MHG dictionary, ?/sr/ is spelled <schr> already, at
        >least in the modern normalized orthography.

        I rather wonder why <sl sm sn sw> changed to the rather clumsy spellings
        <schl schm schn schw>. As you have said, the spelling <schr> already
        existed. The reason is that it comes from older /skr/ where the /sk/
        regularly changed to /ʃ/, spelled as <sch>. So there was a precedence for
        <sch> + continuant.

        Other than that, I can think of two possible factors why <st sp> persisted,
        but not <sl sm sn sw>:

        1. The combinations <st sp> frequently occur in Latin, but none of <sl sm sn
        sw> do.

        2. The combinations <st sp> are not confined to the beginning of a word,
        while <sl sm sn sw> are. There are two possible consequences of this: Either
        initial and medial <st sp> had different pronunciations, as in modern
        standard German. Then the occurence of medial <st sp> might have helped to
        retaining initial <st sp> by analogy of spelling. Or initial and medial <st
        sp> were pronounced the same, as in modern Southwestern German dialects.
        Then changing both initial and medial <st sp> to *<scht schp> might have
        been too much of a change.

        BTW the sound change was not s > ʃ / #_C but rather something like ɕ > ʃ
        /#_C AND ɕ > s #_V. Slavic loanwords from Medieval German render German "S"
        as /ʃ/, not as /s/, and the Hungarian spelling of /ʃ/ as <s> and /s/ as <sz>
        is another Medieval German export.

        --
        grüess
        mach
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