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Thread: The German 'W' , the English 'W' --- whence the difference ?

  1. #11
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    I didn't mean W as in "Wilhelm" sounds "Vilhelm" when pronounced by a native German speaker. I meant the letter W is pronounced "double u", how do Germans pronounce "W"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Æmeric View Post
    I didn't mean W as in "Wilhelm" sounds "Vilhelm" when pronounced by a native German speaker. I meant the letter W is pronounced "double u", how do Germans pronounce "W"?
    "Weh" ( [veː]). But not like the english "we". Very very hard to explain.

    I´ve found a small movie where you can hear how we speak the single "W".

    The person says the single "W" two times: The first time when he speaks about Sarah and the second time before he gives examples of words which contain "W".

    W


    Could I help you? And how do you say "BMW" and "VW"? Vee Double-U? (In German it´s "Beh Em Weh" and "Vau Weh")

    "Judge of your natural character by what you do in your dreams" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Valkyrie View Post
    And how do you say "BMW" and "VW"? Vee Double-U? (In German it´s "Beh Em Weh" and "Vau Weh")
    V-Dub and Bimmer/Beemer, colloquially.

    The horse cure in the Merseburg Incantations ("Phol ende uuodan...") still uses double-U in its original [w] value, which only changed to [v] or [ʋ] during the middle ages.

  4. #14
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    The Germanic TH, sound.

    Thats something which i have thought about the W/V thing.
    I have another ralated question why did all Germanic languages with the exceptions of English and Icelandic drop the TH, sound and replace it with D, and T,s, this is clearly a Germanic sound it occurs in all runic alphabets as,Thorn, Thurrs, Thurrisaz, etc, but the sound has been dropped in all Germanic languages except English and Icelandic. German Das= that. English thine=German Dein,etc, Norwegian Du=Old English Thu-Thou. German Diese=English This. etc.

    I remember having a somewhat heated debate with a Norwegian who couldnt get his head round the fact thatThor was [TH]or not Tor in old Norse, ask an Icelander about that,its curious that although modern English has lost alot of its Germanic character, yet it still retains these archaic Germanisms , TH, W, unlike other Germanic languages.

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    Valkyrie: do most Germans around you sound like that guy? His accent is heavily Jewish.

    I think some aspects of English pronounciation are non-Germanic. Like all the modern big latinized words like 'pronounciation'. But mostly I think the sound of English is most similar to the older way whereas the grammar of German is most similar. Take a mostly English accent and a mostly German grammar and you have something pretty close to the old language.

    Modern German has been influenced by a lot of foriegners. Especially slavs. The accent has changed because of all these immigrants learning German over the past hundreds of years. For this reason you also have a wide variety of German accents that are "native". I have heard German natives who have a very English sounding accent (like American English) and others that sound almost french like others like hard core uniquely German like. Seems to depend on the region I guess.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainman View Post
    do most Germans around you sound like that guy? His accent is heavily Jewish.
    Yes, at least when they are speaking Standard German. When he lists the German words, he exaggerates the f/w pronunciation for didactic purposes, coincidentally making it sound slightly Yiddish, which typically smoothes pf to a heavily stressed f. There are no other elements of Yiddish phonology noticeable here.

    The following is a video of a linguist who practised "German" with a Yiddish speaker and has a corresponding accent:

    German: Introductory Overview

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    I am convinced by the argument in the W/U debate that the Scottish West coast use of Uig as a place name is correct and Wick on the east coast is a distortion of UUig. The Yorkshire place name Barwick having recently been found to have been called Baruuig in the 10 century.
    With regards to the "th" argument I believe skull and palate distortion in continental Germanics prevents them pronouncing the "th" sound of their ancestors. The use of D being far easier. This is commonly seen in people of african descent whose tongue and palates also cannot pronounce the correct Germanic "tH".

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    W:
    The earliest form of the letter W was a doubled V used in the 7th century by the earliest writers of Old English; it is from this <uu> digraph that the modern name "double U" comes. This digraph was not extensively used, as its sound was usually represented instead by the runic wynn (Ƿ), but W gained popularity after the Norman Conquest, and by 1300 it had taken wynn's place in common use. Other forms of the letter were a pair of Vs whose branches cross in the middle. An obsolete, cursive form found in the nineteenth century in both English and German was in the form of an "n" whose rightmost branch curved around as in a cursive "v" (compare the shape of ƕ).

    The sounds /w/ (spelled with U/V) and /b/ (spelled 'B') of Classical Latin developed into a bilabial fricative /β/ between vowels, in Early Medieval Latin. Therefore, V no longer represented adequately the labial-velar approximant sound /w/ of Old High German. In later German, this phoneme /w/ became /v/; this is why German W represents that sound. In Dutch, it became a labiodental approximant /ʋ/ (with the exception of words with EEUW, which have /eːw/), or other diphthongs containing -uw.

    V:
    The letter V ultimately comes from the Semitic letter Waw, as do the modern letters F, U, W, and Y. See F for details.

    In Greek, the letter "upsilon" (Υ) was adapted from waw to represent, at first, the vowel /u/ as in "moon". This later developed to /y/, the vowel spelled ü in German.

    In Latin, it was borrowed in early times as V (without the stem) to represent the same /u/ sound, as well as the consonantal /w/. Thus, num — or, as originally spelled, NVM — was pronounced "noom" (/num/) and via / VIA was pronounced "wee-a" (/wia/. From the first century A.D. on, depending on Vulgar Latin dialect, consonantal /w/ developed into /β/, then later to /v/.

    In Roman numerals, the letter V is used to represent the number 5. It was used because it resembled the convention of counting by notches carved in wood, with every fifth notch double-cut to form a "V".

    During the late Middle Ages, two forms of "v" developed, which were both used for modern u and v. The pointed form "v" was written at the beginning of a word, while a rounded form "u" was used in the middle or end, regardless of sound. So whereas valor and excuse appeared as in modern printing, "have" and "upon" were printed haue and vpon. Eventually, in the 1700s, to differentiate between the consonant and vowel sounds, the "v" form was used to represent the consonant, and "u" the vowel sound, giving us the modern letter "u". Capital "U" appeared at this time; previously, V was used in all cases. Initially, once the letters 'u' and 'v' were established as separate letters, 'v' preceded 'u' in the alphabet; in modern times, this order has been reversed.

    U:
    During the mid-to-late Middle Ages, two forms of v or u developed, which were both used for modern u and v. The pointed form v was written at the beginning of a word, while a rounded form u was used in the middle or end, regardless of sound. So whereas valour and excuse appeared as in modern printing, have and upon were printed haue and vpon. Eventually, in the 1700s, to differentiate between the consonant and vowel sounds, the v form was used to represent the consonant, and u the vowel sound, giving the contemporary letter u. Capital U appeared at this time; previously, V was used in all cases. Initially, once the letters u and v were established as separate letters, v preceded u in the alphabet; in modern times, this order has been reversed.

    source: wikipedia

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    Quote Originally Posted by forkbeard View Post
    With regards to the "th" argument I believe skull and palate distortion in continental Germanics prevents them pronouncing the "th" sound of their ancestors.
    You think it's physically impossible for us to pronounce it?

    Quote Originally Posted by weland View Post
    its curious that although modern English has lost alot of its Germanic character, yet it still retains these archaic Germanisms , TH, W, unlike other Germanic languages.
    But Norwegian and Swedish retain for example the archaic musical accent unlike other Germanic languages. Most Germanic languages have retained something that others didn't, I suppose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    So what about the time of the migration - about which I was speaking... lets not go into pre-historic times !!
    During the whole time of migration, and long thereafter, all Germanic peoples pronounced the sound in Wodan as it is promounced in modern English: [w]
    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    If the AngloSaxons used an English W ( this is what is being said) then when did the Germans 'back home' change over to sounding W as an 'English' V ? ( f ex as in wasser)
    The change from the [w] to the [v] pronunciation can not have commenced earlier than at some point after 1000 A.D., because the Danes who settled during the late 9th/early 10th century in what became Normandy still had the [w], as in <Wace>, the most important Norman poet, and even still in the 12th century, the Normans, meanwhile speaking a French dialect, still retained the [w] in their new French tongue, even after they had completely lost their Germanic mothertongue, for example, French <Guillaume> was spelled in Norman French <Willame> and thus pronounced [wiljam] (hence modern English William).

    Also at about 1200 A.D., the Germans still must have pronounced the sound as [w], because the spelling for Modern German <Frau> 'woman' was <vrouwe>, which indicates the <v> did not represent a voiced fricative, but a sound similar to [f], though softer pronounced. Also, the <-w-> in <vrouwe> proves, that the scribes (every text then had to be handwritten) felt, between the <ou> (pronounced [ou]) and the final <e>, there was another audible sound, a glide-like [w], so that at that time, the sound [w] still did not only occur word-initial, but also word-medial (second-syllable-initial). It is likely that, as long as the sound still occured in the latter position, it was also pronounced in the former position as semi-vowel glide.

    Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the spelling <vrouwe> phased out, giving way to the spelling <frau>, so that the change from word-initial [w] to [v], and the loss of the word-medial (second-syllable-initial) [w], happened simultaneously within this timespan. It was probably complete after the Black Death, about after 1350.

    There are, though, even in modern standard German a number of words still spelled with word-initial <v>, representing [f], and there is even one word which retained the word-medial <v>[f]. This is explained with the high frequency of these words, combined with grapho-visual effects. In modern standard German, the <v> can be pronounced as [v] only in non-German words, mainly of Latin descent, whereas in all (standard) German words where it occurs (and these all have a high frequency) <v> is still pronounced as [f], which nowadays leads to some confusion of foreign learners of German, as well as German school children.
    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    Interesting that when we now speak of 'Wagner' and his 'Wotan' , the English merrily use the V; clearly we aren't too hostile about learning new Germanic things! But not so our old Woden you seem to say.....
    The modern spellings with <V>, as for example in <Valkyrie>, or in <Vandals>, are wrong and misleading. They should be abandoned.
    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    Its true though; we dont now use a V when we speak of the old southern Weald ( Wald) nor of the Wealas nor of the Wyrd...
    Yeah, and you don't have to. It is alright.

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