Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

And I thought I could speak German…

I was writing up something for work and wanted to say, “the script copies table A to B but doesn’t touch that table again afterwards”, and said, “das Skript kopiert Tabelle A in Tabelle B, fässt die Tabelle hinterher aber nicht mehr an.”

Outlook, in which I was writing the message, underlined “fässt”, which made me wonder. “Ich fasse dich an, du fässt mich an, er fässt die Tabelle an”, right? Does it want three s’es, perhaps?

So I look it up in, and lo and behold, it’s “fasst”—just like the second person plural form (“ihr fasst es an”).

Now why would I think that it’s “er fässt es an”? Talking with co-workers, one theory is that I was influenced by “lassen: ich lasse, du lässt, er lässt”.

So I guess that “er fässt” is either just plain wrong (but where’d I get it from, then?), or at least a non-standard regionalism (like the imperative “ess!” that my wife uses, in place of standard “iss!”; I used to think that was an idiosyncrasy of hers, but I’ve since heard that it’s not uncommon in northern Germany).

Huh. Always a bit disappointing when I discover that a part of my idiolect which I thought was standard is not, in fact, also part of the standard. (As a counter-example, I know that my pronunciation of final -g as /x/ is a northernism or that my pronunciation of long “ä” exactly like long “e” is not the prestige pronunciation; those are fairly obvious ones.)

Tags: german
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