Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

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The consequences of not being literate in your native language

I was reading some comments on Facebook which seemed to be in some variety of Alemannic: southern Germany or, more likely, Switzerland.

And I noticed that a couple of the spellings don’t jibe with what I’m familiar with—I suppose a consequence of the fact that they most likely never learned to write their native language. I’m sure they were taught to write standard High German, but that’s not the same.

Some examples: “schriebe” for SHG “schreiben”, where I would have expected “schriibe” or “schrybe”; “ie” is normal SHG spelling for long [i:], but in the orthography for Alemannic I’m familiar with, it’s a falling diphthong, so using it for a monophthong seems wrong to me. Another one is “ka” for SHG “gehabt”, where I would expect “gha”. (And “Ahfang” for SHG “Anfang”; I would expect either “Aafang” or “Afang”.)

I suppose this is a problem with lots of “dialects”, and you can see it in Wikipedias for minority languages: they often try to draw up some kind of consensus orthography precisely because those languages are often not regularly written and so they don’t have a standard orthography—or, at least, not one that most speakers (outside of dialectologists and perhaps some poets or writers) are aware of. (Also, such languages tend not to be standardised to a particular dialect as much, and so it’s harder to come up with a compromise orthography that will represent, as well as possible, all speakers of the dialect continuum.)

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