"Gunsel" thread: loose end

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Wed Jan 30 17:52:44 UTC 2002

Sorry if this reply is a bit stale by now, but I'm slowly digging myself out of a mountain of e-mail that has piled up over the last couple of weeks
when I had no time to read it.  Just in case anybody cares:

I-umlaut is strongest in the north of the German-speaking area and it weakens to the south.  The situation in the dialects is reflected in place names such as Innsbruck (cf. standard German Bruecke) and in some words in colloquial Austrian standard.  The combination of this with the fact that the -l diminutive is a southern phenomenon accounts for dialectal and colloquial Austrian forms like madl (cf. standard German Maedchen), 'girl'.
("Sauberes Madl," says an Austrian officer approvingly of the main character's lover in J. Strauss's "Gypsy Baron.")

So the step from a southern-derived gansl to gunsel (if the u is pronounced
as a mid central vowel) would not be a big one.

Peter Mc.

--On Thursday, January 24, 2002 6:37 AM -0500 "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:

> Perhaps some Germanicist can explain why the umlaut is omitted ... i.e.
> (in my primitive conception) why it's like "gansel"/"gunsel" rather than
> "gänsel"/"gensel".

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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