----- "The Benevolent Dictator" <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

> Recently I noticed a pronunciation difference between -_en_ in the 
> ending -_chen_ and anywhere else in German. Up to then, I had thought 
> final -_en_ would be phonemically [log in to unmask] (. marks a syllable break), 
> which would universally be phonetic -[n=]. 

> But it seems that the derivational ending -_chen_ behaves differently. 
> I caught myself consistently pronouncing -[C@n] instead of -[Cn=]. 
> I asked a few other people and they did the same. Which could mean that 
> we need to distinguish phonemic -/@n/ and -/n=/. 
> Some minimal pairs for testing (there aren't too many, that's why the 
> examples are kind of strange): 
> Reihchen vs. reichen ('small row/queue' vs. 'to reach/pass/surfice; rich') 
> As I said, I thought the two'd both be: 
> /'RaI)C@n/ 
> But I pronounce them differently: 
> ['RaI)C@n] vs. ['RaI)Cn=] 
> (There is no secondary stress in -_chen_, which is often cited as a 
> cause for phonetic phenomena in German (/@/ is not found in any 
> stressed syllable in German).) Maybe we need the morphological 
> break in the phonemic transcription? 
> /'RaI)#C@n/ vs. /'RaI)C#@n/ ? 
> Another one: 
> Fellchen vs. Felchen ('small fur' vs. '{kind of fisch}') 
> ['fElC@n] vs ['fElCn=] 
> Those are the only minimal pairs I found. There are more words in 
> -_chen_ that are not diminutives and consistently get -[n=] 
> Kirchen 'churches' ( ['k_hI6)Cn=] 
> Brüchen 'breaks/fractions' ( ['bRYCn=] 
> Speichen 'spokes' ( ['SpaI)Cn=] 
> brechen 'to break' ['bRECn=] 
> laichen 'to spawn' ['laI)Cn=] 

> Tierchen 'small animal' ['t_hi:6C@n] 
> Küßchen 'small kiss' ['k_hYsC@n] 

Another thought: I'm not a native speaker, obviously, but when I've heard German speakers emphasize or speak slowly, the diminutive manifests itself as /-CEn/, not so much with verbs (well, maybe in singing). I can conceptualize "Kirchen" as /kirCEn/ but "brechen" as /brECEn/ seems more than a bit forced. The two cents of the non-native.