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A chronem (from Greek χρόνος chronos "time") describes the duration of sounds and serves to distinguish between phonemes and thus also between words . In Standard German there is only one chroneme for consonants and two for vowels :

  • Ban, hack (vowel abbreviation)
  • Track, hook (vowel length)

Some German dialects (including Ripuarian and Moselle Franconian ) differentiate between three vowel chronemes: “short”, “long” and “over long” (or “stretched”). The kölsche "ä" for example, there in three lengths:

  • short: Wäsp (wasp)
  • long: määt (makes)
  • extra long: Wääsch (path)

Consonants are also spoken for different lengths of time in numerous West Central German dialects and in other languages ​​( Italian , Finnish , Arabic or Japanese ). The Estonian has even three chroneme for consonants.

In spelling, consonant chronemes are usually represented by doubled consonants , which are pronounced longer. In German , this possibility is missing, since double consonants have been assigned the function of shortening the immediately preceding vowel.

Individual evidence

  1. Elmar Ternes: Introduction to Phonology. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1987, ISBN 3-534-09576-6 , p. 116.