Re: Capitalization in German

From: Stephan Stiller <>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2013 09:52:41 -0800

> impossible to find any non-name example
For non-compound words this is likely, though I'm hesitant to make
absolute statements. Let's look at compounding ambiguities. We might
need a loanword for the second part (I provided the links for a reason),
to prevent the second "s" from being pronounced [ʃ]. Here are some
contrived example pairs:
     Maiß|kat (a catalysor to be used in a Maiß in a deforestation device)
     Mais|skat (um, dunno, something with the game of skat combined with
corn (maize))
Both are masculine nouns, but the vowel length of "a" doesn't match up.
What about:
     Maiß|kate (shack in a young forest)
     Mais|skate [the plural exists]
Both have identical vowels. If we make the first one a plural
(identical), the gender mismatch doesn't matter. And:
They're both neuter (non-plural) nouns. And I saved the best for last:
     Weis|sex [even in standard German predominantly with initial [s]]
(Except there is a glottal stop at the start of "Ex".) Of course I don't
know what these are supposed to mean.

So we have three examples, unless you argue that syllabification is not
identical. /That/ might preclude us from using such one-letter-"s"
compounding ambiguities. And with that I conclude.

> What I find to be neglected very often, is that all these example
> disambiguities can only illustrate spelling rules and are not a good
> measurement for the impact on readability and comprehension in
> real-life applications. For every real disambiguity on the word level,
> there can be myriads of cases, where the reader stumbles and has to
> read the respective part twice. There is a lot of redundancy in
> language for a reason.
Correct: parsing ambiguities, deep nesting that isn't tail-recursion
("center embedding"), polysemy, unusual collocational use,
presupposition failure, forgetting to use the /recommended/ hyphenation
for certain compound words such as those creating "sss" clusters :-) and
the list goes on.

Received on Tue Feb 19 2013 - 11:54:37 CST

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