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As a Fortis (v lat., Strong, powerful, energetic, brave ; Pl .: Fortes ) is a large intensity spoken consonant referred to, for example p [⁠ p ⁠] , t [⁠ t ⁠] , k [⁠ k ⁠] , ß [⁠ s ⁠] , f [⁠ f ⁠] , sch [⁠ ʃ ⁠] .

The opposite of the Fortis is the Lenis ( lind, gentle, quiet ; Pl .: Lenes ).

In High German phonation, each consonant can be characterized according to how strong the pressure of the phonation current is and how high the muscle tension of the speech tools involved in making the sound is. It may be consonant to the muscle tension in stretched (engl. Tense ) and unstressed (engl. Lax ) consonants and divided by the pressure strength of the Phonationsstroms in strong and weak or Fortes and Lene. Normally, pressure and muscle tension are coupled with one another, so that forts are generally formed with taut articulation organs.

Fortes and Lenes in German

In high-level German there is a clear difference between Fortes and Lenes at the beginning of the word and in the interior of the word. At the end of the syllable there is always a hardening of the final voice , that is, only forts are spoken.

Fortes are characterized by the following features in standard high-level German language at normal speaking volume:

Lenes are characterized by the following features at normal speaking volume:

  • no aspiration
  • weak pressure / unstressed
  • voiced .

Participation in the vote or the absence of voice (voiced / unvoiced) is viewed as a secondary characteristic in the German-speaking world, as there are pronouncements in which this opposition is phonologically irrelevant. In addition, voting can be completely omitted when whispering, without impairing intelligibility: [ ], [ ], [ ] etc.

Fortes and Lenes in the southern German-speaking area, in eastern Austria and in Saxon

In Saxony , Thuringia , Vienna , Burgenland and parts of southern Germany , the plosives are generally pronounced without a vocal tone and with less pressure weakness and tension, i.e. as voiceless Lenes without aspiration, so that there is no longer any difference between the following pairs.

  • b , p = [ ]
  • d , t = [ ]
  • g , k = [ ɡ̊ ]

One speaks here of the internal German consonant weakening .

Example from the Saxon: Gänn se vleisch mol auvmochen the Govver.

The distinctive feature voiced / unvoiced does not exist in the plosives of southern German dialects, that is, that partly in the southern German pronunciation variations of the German Fortes von Lenes are differentiated from each other due to the other properties, such as aspiration, duration, duration of the closure, etc.

This can be seen from the adoption of (dialect) German vocabulary with principally voiced lenis consonants in adjacent languages, where voicing is a defining characteristic. Lenis consonants are heard voiceless there (unless they are also written as voiced by means of education), e.g. B. Czech p iglovat "ironing", p ichle "Schmöker" (from little book ), her k ot "damned" (from Lord God ), p ur k rabí "burgrave", t ucet "dozen" or a series of place names such as Šum p er k “Mährisch Schönberk” or Vim p er k “Winterberg”.

In addition, the characteristic of aspiration is missing in high Alemannic dialects . Fortis and Lenis are nevertheless clearly distinguishable, as is the case with / s / and / z̥ / after diphthong in Bavarian . Recent measurements suggest that duration is the main differentiator. If you interrupt the flow of air for a longer period of time with a sound, the air escapes with more pressure.


The international phonetic alphabet does not use any special notation to indicate the contrast between Fortes and Lenes. Only in the extended IPA for the notation of speech disorders are there additional characters for stronger articulation (e.g. [t͈]) and weaker articulation (e.g. [t͉]).

Various solutions have been used for the notation of the Fortis-Lenis contrast. In the literature on Zurich German , for example, the Fortis-Lenis contrast has been noted in the following ways:

  • Like a voicing contrast (e.g., [t] - [d], [f] - [v]);
  • like a gemination contrast (e.g. [tː] - [t], [fː] - [f]);
  • like a voiced contrast, but with the voiceless marking of the actually voiced character (e.g. [t] - [d̥], [f] - [v̥]).

Mixed notation systems are sometimes used, in which the Fortis-Lenis contrast of the plosives is notated in a different way than that of the fricatives (e.g. [t] - [d̥], [ff] - [f]).

Example plosives

/ ⁠ b ⁠ / and / ⁠ p ⁠ / are in the German plosives, where both the point of articulation are identical as well as the articulating organs. In the northern varieties , the two sounds differ from each other in terms of vibration form and sound volume. / ⁠ b ⁠ / has a greater abundance than sound / ⁠ p ⁠ / . / ⁠ p ⁠ / other hand, is aspirated, unvoiced and is accompanied by a relatively stronger than Phonationsstrom / ⁠ b ⁠ / and pronounced with greater muscle tension.

To [⁠ b ⁠] associated Fortis is [⁠ p ⁠] , to [⁠ p ⁠] associated Lenis is [⁠ b ⁠] .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. extIPA SYMBOLS FOR DISORDERED SPEECH ( English ) ICPLA. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  2. Jürg Fleischer , Stephan Schmid: Zurich German ( Memento of the original from March 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 173 kB). In Journal of the International Phonetic Association (2006) 36/2, pp. 243-253. P. 245. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /