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LINGUIST List 20.1571

Fri Apr 24 2009

Qs: Final Fortition in Upper Alemannic

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        1.    Jonathan Gress, Final Fortition in Upper Alemannic

Message 1: Final Fortition in Upper Alemannic
Date: 23-Apr-2009
From: Jonathan Gress <jgressling.upenn.edu>
Subject: Final Fortition in Upper Alemannic
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The usual view of the development of the laryngeal contrast in final
position is that final fortition occurred first, followed by apocope of
final schwa which triggered the loss of the fortition rule (e.g. Hock 1991
and references). Hence originally alternating 'Wääg' 'way', which leveled
the lenis from the plural, versus non-alternating 'ewëgg' 'away', where the
original fortis is retained.

However, I encountered a contrary hypothesis in a footnote in Keller 1961
(_German Dialects_, p 47, n 1), where he suggests that fortition never took
place, but instead that short vowels were lengthened before final lenes. In
that case, the contrast would only be relevant after long vowels (since
there was no concomitant shortening of long vowels before fortes).

I don't know how Keller would account for forms like 'ewëgg', but
conceivably a few isolated words with short vowels could somehow be
re-analyzed with final fortes, rather than undergo lengthening. I don't
really believe this scenario, but if this has been accepted by a number of
historical linguists working on the subject, I need to know. Any German
dialectologists out there who know of discussions along these lines?

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

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