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Does the German language have any other words in which the German letter "a" corresponds to the English letter "i", e.g. Nacht/night, Macht/might?

  • Uh... would Mäuse --> mice and Läuse --> lice count for you? – Christian Geiselmann Mar 27 at 16:45
  • That does not count, @ChristianGeiselmann! ä is not the same as a. ä is specifically an a which has been modified to be more like an e or an i, which is why it can be written ae. So this is not a difference between German and English but rather the same change, that is represented in German with an umlaut mark and in English with an e or an i. So all the words that pluralize (to use one example of where umlaut occurs) with a vowel change in English use an e or an i and this corresponds to an umlauted vowel in German. – David Robinson Mar 27 at 22:28
  • Just think of feet - Füße, men - Männer, mice - Mäuse, lice - Läuse, teeth - Zähne, geese - Gänse, women - Weibmänner (which does not exist but that is what it would be). – David Robinson Mar 27 at 22:29
  • @DavidRobinson Thanks for the interesting details. - Women = Weibmänner was new to me. Perhaps a stupid idea, but is Wo = Womb? Then Weib = womb? It would at least make sense in a prehistoric patriarchal society to call women men (or people) with wombs. – Christian Geiselmann Mar 28 at 15:13
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    @christiangeiselmann There has been a discussion of Weib on this site. Sadly no one knows where it comes from which is why no one knows why it is neuter. In fact although it is clear that wife = Weib, not everyone agrees where woman comes from. But of course as far as the plural is concerned the beginning of the word is not important - it is just a compound of man and obviously forms its plural in the same way. – David Robinson Mar 28 at 15:34
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Yes, there are lots of examples of this. In linguistics it is called "i-mutation", a feature that separates Old, Middle and New English from other Germanic and Indo-European languages. Basically it means that in certain contexts Germanic "a" is replaced by English "i".

  • Actualy, it is called "i-mutation" mainly in Germanic language linguistics. It happens in other languages too, but gets different names, e.g. "metaphony". – Rudy Velthuis Mar 27 at 16:40
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No, it doesnt. You might find words that differ "u" to "i", "e" to "i" or "o" to "i", and also "a" to "i". The point is - Western European languages like to see vowels in strategic places for well-formed words, and the amount of vowels is simply limited.

  • Are you suggesting that these vowels are "inserted" arbitrarily? – fdb Mar 27 at 15:51

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