On Fri, Oct 08, 2004 at 02:07:08PM -0400, Pascal A. Kramm wrote:
> For me there is a faint difference - not as much of a difference as between
> "" and "e", but you can notice it if you listen concentratedly.

Please understand that I do not mean to be rude, but how sure are you
that you can hear these differences?  We humans are notoriously adept at
fooling ourselves, and often people "hear" distinctions where none is
really audible based on their knowledge of spelling.

I wonder how this experiment would work, for instance:  someone
composes a list of nonsense syllables, none of which is actually a
word at all in German, and writes them down using German spelling - some
with ||, some with |e|, some with |ai|, some with |ei| - and gives that
list to someone whom you normally hear as making these
distinctions.   This individual then reads the list aloud, and you,
listening without having seen the list, have to write each word down.
I wonder how often you would choose the correct spelling from each of
the above pairs?

Might be interesting . . .