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Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: Non-native pronunciation of English
Question: Many German adults learning English pronounce ''the'' something like
''ze'', whereas many Dutch pronounce it as ''de''. Neither German nor
Dutch have a voiced /th/, but both languages have /d/ and /z/. So why
does one language tend towards /z/ while the other tends to /d/?

Reply: Generally speaking, when speakers encounters a sound found in their language, their phonology will "repair" to a sound that is a close approximation.

However, there may be multiple options for a repair, so there is some variation possible. The determination of what it will be is not always clear. The final outcome it may depend on phonetics of the individual language. In some cases, a pronunciation of a foreign sound may be culturally learned.

Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 20-Sep-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Non-native pronunciation of English    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (20-Sep-2012)
  2. Re: Non-native pronunciation of English    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (22-Sep-2012)
  3. Re: Non-native pronunciation of English    Robert A Papen     (20-Sep-2012)

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