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ElHorsto
09-08-12, 00:50
Languages that have an ö vowel are all germanic languages, hungarian and turkish.
The ü umlaut is common between germanic and turkish, while the letter u in swedish and norwegian is often pronounced as ü too.
On the other hand, the French language also seem to know ö (banlieu) and ü (musique) vowels.
Finnish, celtic and basque do not seem to have umlauts.
Slav and romance speakers have big difficulties pronouncing umlauts.

Could the germanic umlauts represent a trace to central asia, or is it an independent development?
Where does french fit in? Are there other important languages with umlauts?

Taranis
09-08-12, 01:47
Generally, you need to distinguish between the sounds found in the umlauts themselves, and the Germanic process of umlaut. The former are obviously cross-linguistically more widespread. For example French, Hungarian, Turkish, and it should also be pointed out that (Hellenistic/Medieval) Greek must have possessed the sound for the letter Upsilon (Υ), wheras in modern Greek, the letter is pronounced like an /i/ (the convention to pronounce "Y" as "ü" was retained in German, if you look at words like "Hypnose" or "Apokalypse").

Now, the process of umlaut (ie, in German represented by a > ä, o > ö, u > ü) is a uniquely Germanic feature, and it's actually a fairly late development that was clearly not present in Proto-Germanic: the Gothic language (attested from the 4th century AD) lacked the umlaut feature, but other, later Germanic languages have it. It's obviously visible in German:

Schlag > Schläge
Loch > Löcher
Kuh > Kühe

Even English retains (though considerably modified) the process of the Germanic umlaut, for example:

mouse > mice
louse > lice

MOESAN
09-08-12, 12:29
Generally, you need to distinguish between the sounds found in the umlauts themselves, and the Germanic process of umlaut. The former are obviously cross-linguistically more widespread. For example French, Hungarian, Turkish, and it should also be pointed out that (Hellenistic/Medieval) Greek must have possessed the sound for the letter Upsilon (Υ), wheras in modern Greek, the letter is pronounced like an /i/ (the convention to pronounce "Y" as "ü" was retained in German, if you look at words like "Hypnose" or "Apokalypse").

Now, the process of umlaut (ie, in German represented by a > ä, o > ö, u > ü) is a uniquely Germanic feature, and it's actually a fairly late development that was clearly not present in Proto-Germanic: the Gothic language (attested from the 4th century AD) lacked the umlaut feature, but other, later Germanic languages have it. It's obviously visible in German:

Schlag >
Schläge
Loch > Löcher
Kuh > Kühe


Even English retains (though considerably modified) the process of the Germanic umlaut, for example:

mouse > mice
louse > lice

I thank Taranis for this precision (necessary one) showing a grammatical use of what should be seen as a "palatizing" and "centralizing" of vowels (sorry for my alien english)
phonetically speaking I add some other dialects or languages:
scottish gaelic and some english dialects have sounds very close to /y/ and /Ö/, breton has the 2, welsh had /y/ that turned into /i/ or an intermediate vowel - gallo-italian northwestern dialects have /y/ and /ö/ too -

in brittonic languages it had occurred something close enough, but only half grammaticalized: an 'infection' (shift) of back vowels to front vowels by the adding of an '-I' suffix or a suffix containing an 'I' - it is unequal according to dialects but it is seen very often in plural forms:
breton : 'marc'h' >> pl- mirc'hi, mirc'h (welsh: march >> meirch /// kazh >> pl- kizhier /// karr >> pl- kirri, welsh car >>ceir /// gavr >> pl- gewr/givri /// yar >> pl- yer - welsh: iâr >> ieir /// + derivation: don >> deun ...
some verbs: lavar >> livirit (not everywhere) -
as you can see, often enough, the final '-i' is either incorporated before the last consonnants or has a frontalizing effect on the preceding vowells of the word, and can drop down (fade out) very easily in these languages -
in germanic we could imagine a similar process of '-i' adding or '-i' incorporation because centralization (/ö/) seams not to be the principal factor but only the result of /u/ taking the /y/ position, living only the central /ö/ one to previous /o/ - it seams to me a "palatization" phenomenom linked to an ancient 'i' influence (attraction by articulatory anticipation?) ???
just for the game
have a good day

ElHorsto
09-08-12, 21:46
Thanks for the explanation!


Generally, you need to distinguish between the sounds found in the umlauts themselves,

My point of interest is rather the sound of ö and ü only (not ä), no matter whether it is explicitly written by umlauts or not. I thought it to be something special, like the guttural pronounciation of r in German, Danish and French. I wonder whether there is a special tendency to avoid or use these sounds in certain peoples or language groups. Slavs seem to be especially reluctant to pronounce ö and ü sounds (for instance if forced to speak german), whereas Hungarians excessively use ö. Turks are famous for ü. It is interesting that greek once also used these sounds.

zanipolo
09-08-12, 23:03
Is a dash ( line) over a letter part of this?

I know as an example tthe word PET if it had a line over the E would be PEET

Endri
09-08-12, 23:48
Thanks for the explanation!



My point of interest is rather the sound of ö and ü only (not ä), no matter whether it is explicitly written by umlauts or not. I thought it to be something special, like the guttural pronounciation of r in German, Danish and French. I wonder whether there is a special tendency to avoid or use these sounds in certain peoples or language groups. Slavs seem to be especially reluctant to pronounce ö and ü sounds (for instance if forced to speak german), whereas Hungarians excessively use ö. Turks are famous for ü. It is interesting that greek once also used these sounds.

Idk if it is of your interest but ö andü,respectively sound exactely like the Albanian ë and y. Especially the ü. Idk if the Albanian letters are umlauts or not, and if there is a phonological diff, but they sound the same to me...

spongetaro
10-08-12, 11:52
The only link I see between Turks, German and French are the Huns. This would maybe explain why Umlaut is a late developement in the Germanic languages.

FBS
10-08-12, 14:46
Idk if it is of your interest but ö andü,respectively sound exactely like the Albanian ë and y. Especially the ü. Idk if the Albanian letters are umlauts or not, and if there is a phonological diff, but they sound the same to me...

ö does not sound as ë. There is a Gheg dialect in Drenica and Llap (northern Kosovo) that have theö umlaut, wherever the Albanian word has an "o" in this dialect is replaced by umlautö; so, "po" (yes) in this dialect is "pö", "molla" (apple) is "mölla" and so on. But after the independence of Kosovo, this dialect is being mocked more then before, therefore only the elderly of this region use the ö instead of "o". I haven't noticed that is used by any other Albanian speakers.

Taranis
10-08-12, 15:05
Idk if it is of your interest but ö andü,respectively sound exactely like the Albanian ë and y. Especially the ü. Idk if the Albanian letters are umlauts or not, and if there is a phonological diff, but they sound the same to me...

Albanian "y" is indeed the same sound as German "ü", but ë is a different one. The Albanian sound is a so-called Mid-central vowel which is also found in German in words like "bitte", "Schlange", "Kette". The sound(s) - and it's actually two closely related sounds: (for those who know German) the close-mid front rounded vowel are found in böse, Köter, schön whereas the open-mid front rounded vowel is found in words such as Gewölle, Hölle, Löcher, Völker.

My impression is that almost always, wherever the /y/ sound occurs it's development of an earlier /u/. This certainly applies for Greek and the Germanic languages, and I think this applies for Albanian as well. What might be added, perhaps, is that the Romance languages the letter "Y" is called a 'Greek i' (i grec in French, for instance).


The only link I see between Turks, German and French are the Huns. This would maybe explain why Umlaut is a late developement in the Germanic languages.

That's actually a very interesting hypothesis, but, I'm not sure how to test it. As I mentioned, the Gothic language didn't have the umlaut, but all other branches Scandinavian (ie, Old Norse and it's descendants), insular West Germanic (ie, Anglo-Saxon) and continental West Germanic (ie, Dutch, German) have the feature of umlaut (by that, I mean both the sounds in question and the process of the Germanic umlaut), at least in the original condition. In modern English, the sounds obviously have disappeared, except in certain dialects (ie Scottish, where this is actually a development from standard English /u/ sounds, ie. "food" /fu:d/ is pronounced as /fy:d/ instead, and not a continuation of the umlaut process).

MOESAN
10-08-12, 16:20
finnland and estonian finnish have both 'ü' 'ö' - the phenomenon in gernamic languages (with 'ä', 'eu') is become a grammatical one today, but as consonnants mutations in celtic, I believe it is linked to phonetical tendancies; the centralization/palatization of vowels here is linked perhaps to a previous 'i' somewhere in word, but the capacitiy to pronounce central-palatized vowels and to keep on with them shows a sort of trend that is not present in all languages - the finnish seams showing us a same trend than can as turkish have had is origin in population settled a time ago in Siberia? but some celtic or celto-latin languages shows the same capacity, some other ones at contrary (southern welsh by instance) have big difficulty to pronounce /y/ that becomes /i/ then... I see no Hunnic nor turkish influence in W-Europe... Slaves had /y/ too I believe (as they had vowels nasalizations) in an ancient stage of language, as Greeks: so I propose that (some) I-Ean speakers was yet able to pronounce /y//ö/ sounds and that someones, as Greeks, true I-Es or I-Europeanized lost these sounds after... problems of substrate-adstrate are not to deny perhaps... grammaticalization came after only -
the britton substrate (or some of the britton tribes, maybe more preceltic origin as in Wales) influenced english ('green' << *'grün' - 'mice' << *'mäüs' - 'lice' << *'läüs')
southern germanic languages shows something like a more "gaulish" (french) tendancie in turning 'u' >> /y/ then being obliged to turned /y/ into /i/ and /ö/ into /e/ - same phenomenon (continental gaulish celt) in eastern breton dialect of Vannes (Gwened) where /gwèN/ >> /g'yèN/ and /lör/ >> /ler/ ... and so on: with these late examples we see two distinct traits: capacity of "palatizing-"centralizing" and tendancie to frontalizing