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Lesson Transcript

Eric: Eric here! Welcome back to AfrikaansPod101.com. This is Pronunciation, Lesson 4 - Accent Marks in Afrikaans.
Pieter: Hallo, my naam is Pieter. I’m Pieter. Listeners, accents tell us how to pronounce words or can even change the meaning of a sentence.
Eric: Yeah, but first things first. You may be wondering - what exactly are accents?
Pieter: Well, an accent mark is used over a letter to indicate which syllable is stressed in a word.
Eric: This is something that is common in French too, so it may be easier to understand if you can speak another European language.
Pieter: Yes, we actually see it in many words borrowed from French.
Eric: "Accents” are always placed above a vowel.
Pieter: There are a few tricky bits about accents that we’ll look deeper into in this lesson.
Eric: Okay. So let's get to the first problematic area. What does an accent do to a word?
Pieter: Accents can change the sound of a word.
Eric: How exactly does it change them?
Pieter: I’m gonna use a fancy word to describe this. The first accent we have is called a circumflex. To say it in an easier way, the circumflex accent is a little hat that sits on the top of a vowel.
Eric: Right. So, how will that change the sound of a word?
Pieter: The circumflex accent makes the vowel sound short. For example - sê, which has the circumflex on the “e”; gelê which has the circumflex on the second “e”; oplê which again has it on the “e” at the end; and wêreld which has the circumflex on the first “e”. All of these stop the vowel from being pronounced ‘long’ like we explained in one of the previous lessons.
Eric: Okay, let’s move on to the second mark, which is the diaresis.
Pieter: To introduce its usage, I want to tell a story. Recently, I was invited to a reunion. I got a letter in the mail saying “School reünie”. My Australian friend who was visiting me saw the invitation and said Reunie. “E” and “U” together would give one sound, an EU sound, but here we are using the diaeresis.
Eric: The double dots, which in this case are above the “u”.
Pieter: Indeed, the dots are placed above the second vowel, thereby dismissing the diphthong. So instead of EU, this would be pronounced eü
Eric: The diaeresis is still sometimes used in English, for example over the “-i” in the word "naïve," and is used for the same reason: showing the special pronunciation of the vowels of this word.
Pieter: Isn't it wonderful how complex, yet logical a language can be?
Eric: Some would say it's unnecessarily complex!
Pieter: (laughs) I’ll give you an example. “Coordination” in Afrikaans is koördinasie, and it needs a diaeresis on the O. Without it, we would say koordinasie.
Eric: Okay listeners, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
Pieter: Totsiens!