On final laryngeal distinctions in Wisconsin Standard German

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Final laryngeal distinctions in the speech of two Eastern Wisconsin Germans provide insight into the German dialects spoken in Eastern Wisconsin, and how Wisconsin English has apparently begun to develop patterns of final fortition (Auslautverhärtung). The speech samples show that both speakers differ from standard German and each other, with regard to laryngeally neutral consonants. In Manitowoc county, some voicing is present on underlying /s/ consonants, while underlying /b,d,g/ consonants remain almost exclusively laryngeally neutral. The Ozaukee county speaker shows neutralization across /b,d,g,z/ consonants with predictable exceptions. Looking at Wisconsin German also helps to understand American English as spoken in Eastern Wisconsin. Thus, final laryngeal distinctions are important for obtaining a clear picture of speech patterns used by bilingual Germans in Eastern Wisconsin.


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