Most difficult aspect of your native language for foreigners

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Ulrike Meinhof
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Post by Ulrike Meinhof »

Can we pleeeease have some native speakers of other languages than English in here?
Attention, je pelote !

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Post by Skomakar'n »

rickardspaghetti wrote:Pronounciation and spelling would probably be difficult too. All these vowel qualities, pitch accent and the numerous ways to spell the /x\/ sound and how the /x\/ is really pronounced. Ugh! I'm glad I'm native.

/x\/ is not a central part, or difficulty, of Swedish.
A lot of dialects (particularly the northern ones and the Finland dialect, of course) don't have it, and some of us who live fairly close to Norway don't have it either.
It's ugly as hell. I am so glad not to have it. A foreigner learning Swedish has no reason to try to learn /x\/ either, when it's just as native to have /S/ or /s`/.

What's even worse than having /x\/, though, is having it without having it consistently. I completely hate it when people have /x\/, but don't have it for the borrowed <ge>, <ch> or <sch> when final, but still when initial or, worst of all, have it for native <ske> but not for <kanske>; what the fuck?!

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Post by Miekko »

TaylorS wrote:
YngNghymru wrote::( German is more fun with cases and full gender distinction. Otherwise, what stops it being Dutch? :P

*ducks*

Anyway, I'm also interested - what happened to gender in English? The case system, as we know, was declining even before 1066, and early Middle English retains dodgy case declensions that sort of resemble modern German's (although not on the article - nominal declensions, this is) which then die out pretty quickly, probably because they're not really that marked... but...
English losing gender is really, REALLY weird. Other Germanic languages have very reduced noun inflection, but still have gender, at least on their articles.

The Karleby dialect of Swedish has afaict done away with gender for all non-human nouns. They're all neuter.
< Cev> My people we use cars. I come from a very proud car culture-- every part of the car is used, nothing goes to waste. When my people first saw the car, generations ago, we called it šuŋka wakaŋ-- meaning "automated mobile".

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Post by MadBrain »

I'd say the hardest aspect depends from person to person. That older vietnamese lady at work had pretty good pronunciation of French, but she couldn't link together a bunch of clitics to form syllables, and overall her grammar was terrible, sometimes applying asian grammar (like [number][counter word][noun]). In general it sounded like "Moi arriver travail, trouver légumes à mauvaise place, tout à l'envers, aie aie aie!" or "Alex, veux-tu monter casserole béchamel s'il te plaît" (yelled downstairs). Also, her prosopody was wrong (I'm not sure if she was applying tones to french or not).

Spanish speakers tend to be the other way around, they're good at french grammar and prosopody and will event do stuff like use " j' " in front of consonants (normal in spoken french). But they tend to do stuff like turn /2 y/ into /o u/ or /E/...
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Post by Skomakar'n »

Miekko wrote:
TaylorS wrote:
YngNghymru wrote::( German is more fun with cases and full gender distinction. Otherwise, what stops it being Dutch? :P

*ducks*

Anyway, I'm also interested - what happened to gender in English? The case system, as we know, was declining even before 1066, and early Middle English retains dodgy case declensions that sort of resemble modern German's (although not on the article - nominal declensions, this is) which then die out pretty quickly, probably because they're not really that marked... but...
English losing gender is really, REALLY weird. Other Germanic languages have very reduced noun inflection, but still have gender, at least on their articles.

The Karleby dialect of Swedish has afaict done away with gender for all non-human nouns. They're all neuter.

... N-no... Y-you... Do you... Do... E(i)tt båt(Ør)..?

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Post by Miekko »

Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
TaylorS wrote:
YngNghymru wrote::( German is more fun with cases and full gender distinction. Otherwise, what stops it being Dutch? :P

*ducks*

Anyway, I'm also interested - what happened to gender in English? The case system, as we know, was declining even before 1066, and early Middle English retains dodgy case declensions that sort of resemble modern German's (although not on the article - nominal declensions, this is) which then die out pretty quickly, probably because they're not really that marked... but...
English losing gender is really, REALLY weird. Other Germanic languages have very reduced noun inflection, but still have gender, at least on their articles.

The Karleby dialect of Swedish has afaict done away with gender for all non-human nouns. They're all neuter.

... N-no... Y-you... Do you... Do... E(i)tt båt(Ør)..?

I don't. I'm not from Karleby. Far off.

The article they use is 'ein', but the pronoun - which imho is what makes it neuter - is 'he'. The plural markings, although displaying some traces (though not consistently so) of the gender-based declensions are irrelevant as to determine whether there's still a gender system, as multiple declensions can, and do, coexist within genders in many languages with gender systems.
< Cev> My people we use cars. I come from a very proud car culture-- every part of the car is used, nothing goes to waste. When my people first saw the car, generations ago, we called it šuŋka wakaŋ-- meaning "automated mobile".

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Post by Skomakar'n »

Miekko wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
TaylorS wrote:
YngNghymru wrote::( German is more fun with cases and full gender distinction. Otherwise, what stops it being Dutch? :P

*ducks*

Anyway, I'm also interested - what happened to gender in English? The case system, as we know, was declining even before 1066, and early Middle English retains dodgy case declensions that sort of resemble modern German's (although not on the article - nominal declensions, this is) which then die out pretty quickly, probably because they're not really that marked... but...
English losing gender is really, REALLY weird. Other Germanic languages have very reduced noun inflection, but still have gender, at least on their articles.

The Karleby dialect of Swedish has afaict done away with gender for all non-human nouns. They're all neuter.

... N-no... Y-you... Do you... Do... E(i)tt båt(Ør)..?

I don't. I'm not from Karleby. Far off.

The article they use is 'ein', but the pronoun - which imho is what makes it neuter - is 'he'. The plural markings, although displaying some traces (though not consistently so) of the gender-based declensions are irrelevant as to determine whether there's still a gender system, as multiple declensions can, and do, coexist within genders in many languages with gender systems.

I guess you're trying to explain this as a loss of final -t, but final -n being lost isn't at all uncommon in Swedish/Norwegian dialects (or even standardized Norwegian bokmål [often optional]) either.

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Post by Miekko »

Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
TaylorS wrote:
YngNghymru wrote::( German is more fun with cases and full gender distinction. Otherwise, what stops it being Dutch? :P

*ducks*

Anyway, I'm also interested - what happened to gender in English? The case system, as we know, was declining even before 1066, and early Middle English retains dodgy case declensions that sort of resemble modern German's (although not on the article - nominal declensions, this is) which then die out pretty quickly, probably because they're not really that marked... but...
English losing gender is really, REALLY weird. Other Germanic languages have very reduced noun inflection, but still have gender, at least on their articles.

The Karleby dialect of Swedish has afaict done away with gender for all non-human nouns. They're all neuter.

... N-no... Y-you... Do you... Do... E(i)tt båt(Ør)..?

I don't. I'm not from Karleby. Far off.

The article they use is 'ein', but the pronoun - which imho is what makes it neuter - is 'he'. The plural markings, although displaying some traces (though not consistently so) of the gender-based declensions are irrelevant as to determine whether there's still a gender system, as multiple declensions can, and do, coexist within genders in many languages with gender systems.

I guess you're trying to explain this as a loss of final -t, but final -n being lost isn't at all uncommon in Swedish/Norwegian dialects (or even standardized Norwegian bokmål [often optional]) either.

no, I am not. Where do you get such an idea?
< Cev> My people we use cars. I come from a very proud car culture-- every part of the car is used, nothing goes to waste. When my people first saw the car, generations ago, we called it šuŋka wakaŋ-- meaning "automated mobile".

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Post by Skomakar'n »

Miekko wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
TaylorS wrote:
YngNghymru wrote::( German is more fun with cases and full gender distinction. Otherwise, what stops it being Dutch? :P

*ducks*

Anyway, I'm also interested - what happened to gender in English? The case system, as we know, was declining even before 1066, and early Middle English retains dodgy case declensions that sort of resemble modern German's (although not on the article - nominal declensions, this is) which then die out pretty quickly, probably because they're not really that marked... but...
English losing gender is really, REALLY weird. Other Germanic languages have very reduced noun inflection, but still have gender, at least on their articles.

The Karleby dialect of Swedish has afaict done away with gender for all non-human nouns. They're all neuter.

... N-no... Y-you... Do you... Do... E(i)tt båt(Ør)..?

I don't. I'm not from Karleby. Far off.

The article they use is 'ein', but the pronoun - which imho is what makes it neuter - is 'he'. The plural markings, although displaying some traces (though not consistently so) of the gender-based declensions are irrelevant as to determine whether there's still a gender system, as multiple declensions can, and do, coexist within genders in many languages with gender systems.

I guess you're trying to explain this as a loss of final -t, but final -n being lost isn't at all uncommon in Swedish/Norwegian dialects (or even standardized Norwegian bokmål [often optional]) either.

no, I am not. Where do you get such an idea?

I was supposing your logic behind thinking of the remaining gender as neuter, because of the definite article, was that het had become he.

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Post by Guitarplayer II »

Dingbats wrote:Can we pleeeease have some native speakers of other languages than English in here?

*waves hand* We've already discussed stuff about German.

MadBrain wrote:Also, her prosopody was wrong (I'm not sure if she was applying tones to french or not).

It's pro-so-dy. It doesn't have anything to do with feet.
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Post by Miekko »

Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Miekko wrote:
TaylorS wrote:
YngNghymru wrote::( German is more fun with cases and full gender distinction. Otherwise, what stops it being Dutch? :P

*ducks*

Anyway, I'm also interested - what happened to gender in English? The case system, as we know, was declining even before 1066, and early Middle English retains dodgy case declensions that sort of resemble modern German's (although not on the article - nominal declensions, this is) which then die out pretty quickly, probably because they're not really that marked... but...
English losing gender is really, REALLY weird. Other Germanic languages have very reduced noun inflection, but still have gender, at least on their articles.

The Karleby dialect of Swedish has afaict done away with gender for all non-human nouns. They're all neuter.

... N-no... Y-you... Do you... Do... E(i)tt båt(Ør)..?

I don't. I'm not from Karleby. Far off.

The article they use is 'ein', but the pronoun - which imho is what makes it neuter - is 'he'. The plural markings, although displaying some traces (though not consistently so) of the gender-based declensions are irrelevant as to determine whether there's still a gender system, as multiple declensions can, and do, coexist within genders in many languages with gender systems.

I guess you're trying to explain this as a loss of final -t, but final -n being lost isn't at all uncommon in Swedish/Norwegian dialects (or even standardized Norwegian bokmål [often optional]) either.

no, I am not. Where do you get such an idea?

I was supposing your logic behind thinking of the remaining gender as neuter, because of the definite article, was that het had become he.


and that'd be relevant because what exactly? (man you're a confused little ignoramus aren't you?)

in almost all of ostrobothnian, the neuter pronoun is he. No 'het', 'det' or 'den' have existed. this you know of course. There's no reason to even think of sound changes or such whatsoever.

'he' in all nearly related dialects is the neuter definite article as well as pronoun. other genders get 'han', 'hon', 'ha', 'ho', 'an', 'on', 'a', 'o' etc. These pronouns STILL EXIST in Karleby (and in other dialects are used as definite articles as well!). They're only restricted the same way the English 'he' and 'she' pronouns are. All non-human nouns, however, have been reanalyzed as neuters. (and sure, it can be debated whether this should really be called neuter for whatever reason, but these are the fucking facts: this dialect never had a common gender. these nouns no longer are masculine. these nouns no longer are feminine. these nouns form a third gender. this group of nouns includes nouns that earlier have been in the neuter gender. nouns in this group have the neuter gender's definite article and pronoun, but the indefinite article and adjectives are indistinct from the other genders. either we posit a disappearance of the neuter gender and the creation of a new gender, or we posit the movement of all non-human members of the other genders into neuter. ultimately, these are EQUIVALENT solutions, and trying to be a smartass about it is terribly retarded)

Skomakar'n, it's my impression that you think I am stupid and that I have no idea what I am talking of. It's also my impression that you are stupid and barely know what anyone else is talking of.
< Cev> My people we use cars. I come from a very proud car culture-- every part of the car is used, nothing goes to waste. When my people first saw the car, generations ago, we called it šuŋka wakaŋ-- meaning "automated mobile".

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Post by Skomakar'n »

Miekko wrote:and that'd be relevant because what exactly? (man you're a confused little ignoramus aren't you?)

in almost all of ostrobothnian, the neuter pronoun is he. No 'het', 'det' or 'den' have existed. this you know of course. There's no reason to even think of sound changes or such whatsoever.

'he' in all nearly related dialects is the neuter definite article as well as pronoun. other genders get 'han', 'hon', 'ha', 'ho', 'an', 'on', 'a', 'o' etc. These pronouns STILL EXIST in Karleby (and in other dialects are used as definite articles as well!). They're only restricted the same way the English 'he' and 'she' pronouns are. All non-human nouns, however, have been reanalyzed as neuters. (and sure, it can be debated whether this should really be called neuter for whatever reason, but these are the fucking facts: this dialect never had a common gender. these nouns no longer are masculine. these nouns no longer are feminine. these nouns form a third gender. this group of nouns includes nouns that earlier have been in the neuter gender. nouns in this group have the neuter gender's definite article and pronoun, but the indefinite article and adjectives are indistinct from the other genders. either we posit a disappearance of the neuter gender and the creation of a new gender, or we posit the movement of all non-human members of the other genders into neuter. ultimately, these are EQUIVALENT solutions, and trying to be a smartass about it is terribly retarded)

Skomakar'n, it's my impression that you think I am stupid and that I have no idea what I am talking of. It's also my impression that you are stupid and barely know what anyone else is talking of.

Woah, woah, woah. What's with the sudden burst of wrath?
I do not think you are stupid, and I do not think you do not know what you speak of.

I do not know much at all about this dialect, and I have never claimed to do so.
That is the entire reason for me asking and making sure we are on the same page; I do not know exactly what you are talking about, and I want to know.
I want to be sure that I am not misunderstanding. No need to turn the heat up and throw insults everywhere. I have never tried, or wanted to, provoke you in any way.

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Post by TaylorS »

People seem to have a hell of a time getting the usage of the Simple Present and the Present Progressive in active verbs right, using the habitual Simple Present when the Present Progressive should be used.

The great complexity of modal forms must certainly be hard, as must be proper use of infinitives and gerunds.

In pronunciation, the interdentals are obviously hard, but I'm sure English's complex vowel system and complicated vowel reduction is a pain.

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Post by Travis B. »

TaylorS wrote:People seem to have a hell of a time getting the usage of the Simple Present and the Present Progressive in active verbs right, using the habitual Simple Present when the Present Progressive should be used.

The great complexity of modal forms must certainly be hard, as must be proper use of infinitives and gerunds.

In pronunciation, the interdentals are obviously hard, but I'm sure English's complex vowel system and complicated vowel reduction is a pain.

Agreed completely. As for vowel systems, the complexity of English phonology is such that in many English-as-a-foreign-language contexts, they do not even try to teach actual English vowel phonology; rather, they often teach English as if it had a mere 5-vowel system like that in Spanish plus a schwa vowel... :evil:

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Post by Ziz »

TaylorS wrote:In pronunciation, the interdentals are obviously hard, but I'm sure English's complex vowel system and complicated vowel reduction is a pain.


I think /r/ is by far the hardest consonant any English learner will have to master. There are so many ways to almost get it, but just miss. I really can't see what's so difficult about /θ/ and /ð/. I guess it's kind of easy to overdo them by blowing too hard, or by stinking your tongue out too far, but that's no reason to resort to [s z] or [t̪ d̪]*...

I would describe /ð/ in English as something like a "tap fricative." Sometimes my tongue never even comes into contact with my teeth. I don't think it's quite the same as Spanish [ð̞]*, however.

Also, str-. That must be hell.


*If you can't see the diacritics, these are [t_d d_d] and [D_o].

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Post by Kai_DaiGoji »

From the other end, when I was learning Russian, palatalization was the single hardest thing for me. Especially because, at the time, I didn't have a teacher who could explain it like that - she was stuck on the "soft sign" and kept trying to explain that it's the same sound, just "softened." I kept accidentally saying dirty things, which amused to no end to TA.
[quote="TomHChappell"]I don't know if that answers your question; is English a natlang?[/quote]

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Post by Ulrike Meinhof »

Skomakar'n wrote:It's ugly as hell. I am so glad not to have it. A foreigner learning Swedish has no reason to try to learn /x\/ either, when it's just as native to have /S/ or /s`/.

It's not "just as native" to have /S/ or /s`/ when you don't have any of the other features associated with the dialects that do. You can't learn rikssvenska and have /S/ or /s`/.

What's even worse than having /x\/, though, is having it without having it consistently. I completely hate it when people have /x\/, but don't have it for the borrowed <ge>, <ch> or <sch> when final, but still when initial or, worst of all, have it for native <ske> but not for <kanske>; what the fuck?!

And I completely hate it when people have [9:] for /2:/, what the fuck?! Or actually on second thought, I don't. Get over yourself.
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Post by Travis B. »

Snaka wrote:
TaylorS wrote:In pronunciation, the interdentals are obviously hard, but I'm sure English's complex vowel system and complicated vowel reduction is a pain.


I think /r/ is by far the hardest consonant any English learner will have to master. There are so many ways to almost get it, but just miss. I really can't see what's so difficult about /θ/ and /ð/. I guess it's kind of easy to overdo them by blowing too hard, or by stinking your tongue out too far, but that's no reason to resort to [s z] or [t̪ d̪]*...

I would describe /ð/ in English as something like a "tap fricative." Sometimes my tongue never even comes into contact with my teeth. I don't think it's quite the same as Spanish [ð̞]*, however.

It depends; there are many English dialects that modify /ð/ significantly, particularly initially, where very many dialects frequently stop it or assimilate it to the preceding consonant.

Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Certainly. My own dialect has something between [st͡ʂɹ͡ɰˤ] and [ɕt̠̻͡ɕɹ̠͡ɰˤ], with more conservative speakers tending towards something more like the former and more progressive speakers tending towards something like the latter, but neither of which could be easy for anyone to pick up non-natively...

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Post by Simmalti »

Snaka wrote:I really can't see what's so difficult about /θ/ and /ð/.


I for one have difficulty with these. I tend to either omit them completely or hyper correct my t's and d's

As for the 'str' cluster - In Maltese, apart from [str], we also have [spt], [Str], [st?], etc

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Post by Skomakar'n »

Snaka wrote:/θ ð r/

Why, really?

Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

Dingbats wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:It's ugly as hell. I am so glad not to have it. A foreigner learning Swedish has no reason to try to learn /x\/ either, when it's just as native to have /S/ or /s`/.

It's not "just as native" to have /S/ or /s`/ when you don't have any of the other features associated with the dialects that do. You can't learn rikssvenska and have /S/ or /s`/.

Nah..? My impression is that having Standard Swedish with /S/ is considered kind of... over the top. Extremely "fine" Swedish. Nearly trying to sound aristocratic.

Snaka wrote:
What's even worse than having /x\/, though, is having it without having it consistently. I completely hate it when people have /x\/, but don't have it for the borrowed <ge>, <ch> or <sch> when final, but still when initial or, worst of all, have it for native <ske> but not for <kanske>; what the fuck?!

And I completely hate it when people have [9:] for /2:/, what the fuck?! Or actually on second thought, I don't. Get over yourself.

Mmm-mmm-mmmmm!<3
It's not the same thing at all, as we consistently have [9:]. Consistently. That's a huge difference.

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Post by Guitarplayer II »

Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

You're overgeneralizing here. German has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too, and for speakers of Germanic languages this probably doesn't seem so difficult or unusual. This doesn't mean it's easy for anyone, however. At least in my experience, people who don't speak Germanic languages natively seem to have difficulties with my name, Carsten /'kars.tən/, although that's usually "simplified" to [kʰaːs.tn̩] – but however you turn it, you end up with a 3-sound consonant cluster which seems to make it difficult, or at least difficult to pick up correctly from hearing. And that's not even an initial or otherwise monosyllabic cluster.
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Post by Ziz »

Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:/θ ð r/

Why, really?


Well, because /r/ is phonetically something like [ɹʷ], at least in some positions. If you sound it too strongly, it sounds ridiculous, maybe comically Midwestern, assuming you're learning GenAm. But foreigners are lucky if their /r/ even approaches [ɹ] or [ɻ]. Many times it's just some other rhotic.

I don't really get it; a couple of English learners I know use [ɹ] but somehow it still doesn't sound natural.

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Post by jal »

Io wrote:Image


Ha ha, retard English doesn't know the difference between "kennen" and "weten".


JAL

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Post by jal »

Dingbats wrote:Can we pleeeease have some native speakers of other languages than English in here?


Did you actually read this thread? There's Germans, Dutch, Bulgarians, Swedes and some others as well.


JAL

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Post by Travis B. »

Dampantingaya wrote:
Skomakar'n wrote:
Snaka wrote:Also, str-. That must be hell.

Nah. Icelandic and Swedish dialects have strj-.

You're overgeneralizing here. German has /ʃtr/ and /ʃpr/ too, and for speakers of Germanic languages this probably doesn't seem so difficult or unusual. This doesn't mean it's easy for anyone, however. At least in my experience, people who don't speak Germanic languages natively seem to have difficulties with my name, Carsten /'kars.tən/, although that's usually "simplified" to [kʰaːs.tn̩] – but however you turn it, you end up with a 3-sound consonant cluster which seems to make it difficult, or at least difficult to pick up correctly from hearing. And that's not even an initial or otherwise monosyllabic cluster.

I intuitively have trouble keeping track of Standard German /a/ versus /aː/, due to the idea of a vowel quantity difference that is linked to neither vowel quality nor the quality of a following consonant being rather alien to me, as a native speaker of only English. I have tried to distinguish them quality-wise by using a backer realization for Standard German /a/ than for Standard German /aː/, from having somehow been taught that that was so, as the quantity difference is easier for me to keep track of if it also involves a quality difference as well, but since then I have learned that at least in much of Standard German there really is no quality difference between the two...
Last edited by Travis B. on Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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