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On Tue, 20 Oct 2009 08:00:03 +0200, Philip Newton wrote:

>You have phonemically long/geminate consonants? That's unusual for a
>German-alike IMO, though an interesting twist.

I'd say, ANADEW. In Alemannic dialects that keep a fortis-lenis distinction,
the main feature that will distinguish the fortis-lenis pairs is length. In
terms of VOT, they are identical. Of course, this makes them quite difficult
for IPA transcriptions, because IPA is most fit for languages where the
distinction between, say, [p] and [b] is a distinction of voicedness.
Incidently, just like in French – and it was a French invention. In their
paper on Zurich German for the IPA journal, Jürg Fleischer and Stephan
Schmid indeed report eight different methods of transcribing that
fortis-lenis distinction, see page 245:
http://www.pholab.uzh.ch/forschung/Fleischer_Schmid2006.pdf

On Tue, 20 Oct 2009 11:58:12 +0100, R A Brown wrote:
>I have always assumed that /kx/ is there in
>standard German is because:
>- in northern German and in the standard language, initial
>/p/, /t/ and /k/ are aspirated, as they are in modern English.
>- the difference between [k_h] and [kx] is not great enough.
>
>But IIRC the southern varieties do not aspirate voiceless
>plosive, hence a difference between [k] and [kx] can be
>maintained and hence /k/ and /kx/ are separate phonemes.

At least in Alemannic dialects, these two can be in opposition to the
cluster /kh/, phonetically [k_h]. The opposition is quite rare, since
initially, /kx/ occurs only in few words, original initial /k/ regularly
shifted to plain /x/ (which leads to words that orthographically resemble
their English cognates, such as "Chilche" 'church', "Chäs" 'cheese', "Chind"
'child'). I can only think of pseudo-minimal pairs now, for instance /kxent/
'known' (standard German "gekannt") vs. /khemt/ 'inhibited' (standard German
"gehemmt").

--
grüess
mach