https://www.duolingo.com/danikgap

Why is there an h in 'ihr'?

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I don't understand why the letter h is in the word 'ihr'. As far as I know 'Ir', without an h, would be pronounced the same. Is this just some piece of outdated spelling that was never changed, or do I not understand something?

6/14/2018, 5:27:43 PM

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/OmegaGmaster
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An "h" after a vowel indicates that the vowel is long. Take a look at German pronunciation:

"Ir" would sound like [ɪɐ̯] while "Ihr" is [iːɐ̯].

6/14/2018, 5:31:54 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98
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tho it says that i alone can also be long so it could be written like ir as well

6/14/2018, 6:52:06 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/med.rotorrobot

It only says how the letter combinations are pronounced. How the words are supposed to be spelled is typically defined by the Duden.

So the reason why ihr isn't spelled ir or ier should be that Konrad Duden decided that he prefers this spelling back in 1880.

6/15/2018, 9:23:28 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Alpengluehen
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Well, ihr cannot be written ir but if you read ir, it is the same, as a vovel followed by a single consonant is short.

6/14/2018, 7:11:37 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/WillAz1
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Good reference chart, printing a copy for later. thanks.

6/14/2018, 8:27:15 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Alpengluehen
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You are absolutly right. Sometimes it is to differntiate words which are spoken the same way, like malen and mahlen but I don't know any word ir. I think it has historical reasons as there existed several ways to indicate long vovels before sticking to the multiple consonant-rule, all of them left remanants. So the Dehnungs-h before l,m,n,r are still here after the rule that several consanants make a voval short was established and consononats doubled. Somtimes you will find the Nieder-German system that doubels the vovel as in Geest what would be in modern writing Gehst and is spoken as the verb and even earlier one added an i or e to indicate lenght like in the German city of Soest (no ö). That method conflicted with ä, ö, ü alternative writing, so only the ee and ie are left.
Even today many German dialects have more than two vovel lengths, so possibly those before l, m, n, and r were felt longer than the normal long ones in those days.
What I can say is, that those long vovels indicated with an h are never spoken short, how it can happen with others (was, das).

6/14/2018, 7:06:53 PM
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