Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Jul 3 20:58:28 UTC 1999

bethany asks how to get /fansa/ ([fans@] or [fanz@], surely?)  from
LUFTHANSA.  i have a slightly different tale from dInIs's (which
doesn't preclude us both from being, in some sense, right).

my most careful english pronunciation of LUFTHANSA has a first
syllable ending in [ft] and a second beginning with an [h].  the [h]
disappears at the first opportunity, giving something that should be
spelled LUFTANSA and has phonetic resyllabication, with the [t] moved
into the second syllable and consequently aspirated.

nevertheless, the [t] is still *phonologically* at the end of the
first syllable, so it's part of an [ft] cluster, and a prime candidate
for that famous t/d deletion.  giving something that should be spelled
LUFANSA, also subject to phonetic resyllabication, with the [f] moved
into the second syllable: [lU.fan.z@] (those of you with an [s]
instead of a [z] in this word, just make the substitution here, and
hereafter; i have a [z], maybe from my swiss genes).  this is, in
fact, my everyday pronunciation of the word (in english).

next, though a syllable-final [U] in an unstressed syllable is
perfectly kosher in english (as in MUBARAK or BUKOWSKI), since it's an
unstressed lax vowel it's fair game for vowel reduction, which gives
[l at .fan.z@]. this is just a tad more casual/slouchy for me than the
[lU...] version.

*now* we have a schwa in a pretonic syllable, flanked by consonants -
a prime candidate for phonetic shortening (as in BELIEVE, POLICE,
COLUMBUS, POTATO), even to nothingness.  this would give [l.fan.z@],
where that first syllable, [l], might have a super-short vowel after
the [l], or might have a voiceless vowel after the [l] (anticipating
the voicelessness of the [f]), or might be a short syllabic [l] - on
its own, or devoiced in anticipation of the [f], or vocalized to a
super-short [u] - or might not be articulated at all.

i submit that bethany, or i, or most speakers of american english,
would hear any one of *these* versions (including, of course,
[fan.z@]) as FANSA.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu, posting from the linguistic
  institute at uiuc), who was struck uncomprehending by a sales
  clerk who said [zOl/] (/ is rising final intonation, O is open o)
  to him this very morning, several times, before he [the linguist]
  understood that she [the clerk] was saying IS THAT ALL?

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