Pronunciation of the German language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mouth position in pronunciation and signs of the phonetic alphabet of the letters V , A and G.

The pronunciation of the German language describes the phonetics and phonology of the German standard language . This is not the same everywhere, because German is a pluricentric language with different varieties , which, however, largely coincide in their pronunciation.

In a broader sense, the pronunciation of the German language can also be understood as that of the German dialects. But because this would go beyond the scope of a single article, this view is not presented here; see instead the article on German dialects .


Initially, the German standard language was a pure written standard. When it was spoken, it was according to the regional dialect.

From the 16th to the 18th century , the Saxon pronunciation of standard German - the Meissniche - was considered exemplary, especially in central and northern Germany, while it only gradually gained acceptance in the south of the German-speaking area. References to the former exemplary character of a Saxon-tinged pronunciation can be found in the fact that, even in the Weimar Classicist period, a pair of words such as tired - peace was accepted as an unadulterated, pure rhyme .

In the 19th century , the North German pronunciation became the most influential. Various factors played a role. On the one hand, Prussia had become the dominant power, especially since the founding of the German Empire , on the other hand, in many areas of northern Germany, dialects had been given up in favor of the standard language, so that the speakers achieved a natural fluency in the oral use of the standard language.

This pronunciation of the German language was codified for the first time in 1898 in the Deutsche Bühnenaussprache by Theodor Siebs . Modern pronunciation dictionaries generally agree with Siebs' pronunciation, even if they differ from it in various details (for example, today [r] is no longer regarded as the only permitted pronunciation of the phoneme / r /). The Duden pronunciation dictionary ( Max Mangold ), in which it is described in great detail, can be considered authoritative for the now widely recognized version of this standard “the German standard pronunciation” (according to the dictionary) . (However, it should be noted that some of the basic assumptions formulated there in phonetics and phonology are also seen differently and do not always reflect the latest state of research in these disciplines.) This pronunciation norm is usually also taught in German lessons for foreigners and more or less precisely in monolingual and multilingual German dictionaries are used.


The standard pronunciation, formulated as a norm, is considered a uniform ideal. There are different ways of pronouncing German, which have a role model effect in the respective regions.

It is therefore unrealistic to say that just one of these different pronunciations of Standard German is the "correct" one (and corresponds to one ideal) and all the other dialect-colored deviations. This view, which is still widespread today, was previously unquestioned when a prescriptive attitude was also common in grammar representation and didactics (when it was customary to prescribe how people should speak).

These norm variations can be observed, for example, in the fact that radio and television not only use a single pronunciation of the German language. News anchors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland differ in their pronunciation from standard German. The predominance of the standard variant from the Federal Republic can only be described as a quantitative one (because of the higher population in Germany there are more channels and they have a greater range). But differences can also be found within Germany if one z. B. compares the pronunciation of Bavarian and North German radio and television speakers.

Vocal system

Monophthongs of Standard German, from Mangold (2005: 37). The nasalized vowels only appear in loanwords.

The German vowel system is relatively large with around 15 (monophthong) vowel phonemes ; the Spanish language, for example, only knows five. These vowel phonemes are represented by the eight vowel letters a , e , i , o , u , ä , ö and ü , in foreign words and proper names in certain positions also by y and more rarely by é . Above all, i, u, y are also used to some extent to reproduce consonants .

The vowel phonemes of stressed syllables are often divided into pairs: / à / and / ⁠ a ⁠ / , / é / and / ⁠ ɛ ⁠ / , / i / and / ⁠ ɪ ⁠ / , / ø / and / ⁠ ɔ ⁠ / , / U /, and / ⁠ ʊ ⁠ / , / ɛː / and / ⁠ ɛ ⁠ / , / o /, and / ⁠ œ ⁠ / and / y /, and / ⁠ ʏ ⁠ / . There are different approaches to the phonological justification of these pairings:

  • The distinguishing feature is the vowel quantity . The difference in vowel quality is secondary to this. The position of the vowel / ɛː /, which is not closed despite its length, remains problematic in this approach .
  • The distinguishing feature is the vowel quality. The difference in vowel quantity is secondary to this. In addition to the position of the vowel / ɛː /, that of the pair / aː - a /, where despite a difference in length, none of the quality is present, remains problematic in this approach . (In the pronunciation variants of Standard German influenced by Low German , there is often a difference: the long vowel is a back tongue vowel , the short vowel, however , a front tongue vowel , while both a vowels are usually articulated as a central vowel . In these, the phoneme / ɛː usually also exists / not, see below, so that analysis based on vowel quality is possible.)
  • The distinguishing feature is the syllable cut . The differences in vowel quality and vowel quantity are secondary. The problem with this approach remains the question of whether there is an empirical basis for assuming a difference in the syllable cut.

Closed (long) vowels are usually pronounced briefly in an unstressed position, e.g. B. / ɡeˈnoːm /, / viˈtaːl /.

Ritt / rɪt / and riet / riːt / also differ in quality, for example, as the notation of the International Phonetic Alphabet shows. The majority of the long vowel phonemes are pronounced more closed and are different phonemes than their short written counterparts.

There are similar vowel pairs of stressed syllables as in German in all Germanic languages.

/ Ɛː / as in K ä se as / is in several varieties of standard German, especially in the north of Germany and the east of Austria, usually é / pronounced. In the superscript, / ɛː / is realized as [ ɛː ] and / / as [ ]. Examples of minimal pairs : soul - halls, honor - ear of grain, rifle - guarantee, documents - coverings, yeasts - ports, see - sow.

In loan words from French, the (always long) nasal vowels [ ãː ], [ ɛ̃ː ], [ œ̃ː ] and [ õː ] can also occur. However, their phoneme status is questionable and they are often resolved into oral vowel + [ ŋ ] (in the north) or oral vowel + [ n ] or also [ m ], e.g. B. instead of balloon / ba /lõː / the pronunciations / baˈlɔŋ / or / baˈloːn /, instead of perfume / parˈfœ̃ː / the pronunciations / parˈfœŋ / or / parˈfyːm / and instead of orange / oˈrãːʒə / the pronunciations / oˈraŋʒə / or / oˈranʒə /.


phoneme example description phon
/ ⁠ a ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample K a mm ? / i short, open front to back unrounded vowel [⁠ a ⁠]
/ / Audio file / audio sample k a m ? / i long, open front to back unrounded vowel [ ]
/ ⁠ ɛ ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample St e lle ? / i short, half-open front unrounded vowel [⁠ ɛ ⁠]
/ ⁠ ə ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample please e ? / i Schwa [⁠ ə ⁠]
/ ɛː / Audio file / audio sample K ä se ? / i longer, half-open [ ɛː ]
/ / Audio file / audio sample st eh len ? / i or Genom (long,) semi-closed front unrounded vowel [ e (ː) ]
/ ⁠ ɪ ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample M i tte ? / i short, almost closed, almost anterior unrounded vowel [⁠ ɪ ⁠]
/ / Audio file / audio sample M ie ter ? / i , v i tal ? / iAudio file / audio sample (long,) closed front unrounded vowel [ i (ː) ]
/ ⁠ ɔ ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample o ffen ? / i short, half-open back rounded vowel [⁠ ɔ ⁠]
/ / Audio file / audio sample O fen ? / i or Roman (long,) semi-closed back rounded vowel [ o (ː) ]
/ ⁠ œ ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample H ö lle ? / i short, half-open front rounded vowel [⁠ œ ⁠]
/ øː / Audio file / audio sample H ö hle ? / i orÖdem (long,) semi-closed front rounded vowel [ ø (ː) ]
/ ⁠ ʊ ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample M u tter ? / i short, rounded centralized, almost closed back vowel [⁠ ʊ ⁠]
/ / Audio file / audio sample M u t ? / i or R u bin ? / iAudio file / audio sample (long,) closed back rounded vowel [ u (ː) ]
/ ⁠ ʏ ⁠ / Audio file / audio sample M ü ller ? / i short, almost closed, almost anterior rounded vowel [⁠ ʏ ⁠]
/ / Audio file / audio sample M above sea cave ? / i or ph y sics ? / iAudio file / audio sample (long,) closed front rounded vowel [ y (ː) ]


According to example description
aʊ̯ H au s The closing diphthong sets with a [a] as in Schw a mm and sliding in the direction of the German [⁠ ʊ ⁠] , wherein the lips round.
aɪ̯ H ei m The closing diphthong sets with a [a] as in Schw a mm and sliding in the direction of the German [⁠ ɪ ⁠] .
ɔʏ̯ Eu le The closing diphthong sets with a [⁠ ɔ ⁠] as in G o tt, and slides in the direction of [⁠ ʏ ⁠] , towards almost lost the slight rounding of the lips at the end can (of which [⁠ ʏ ⁠] almost [⁠ ɪ ⁠] ).

In descriptions, occasionally are also a group of peripheral diphthongs which occur in interjections or borrowed words stated: [⁠ ʊɪ̯ ⁠] , as in hui! or ugh! , [⁠ ɛɪ̯ ⁠] , as in mail or fake , and [⁠ ɔʊ̯ ⁠] , as in Soul or code .

Consonant system

The German consonant system has an average size of around 25 phonemes compared to other languages. A special feature is the unusual affricate / ⁠ PF ⁠ / .

Different German consonants occur in pairs with the same place of articulation and the same articulation type, namely the pairs / p – b, t – d, k – ɡ, s – z, ʃ – ʒ /. These pairs are often referred to as Fortis - Lenis pairs because they are poorly described as voiceless-voiced pairs. With certain restrictions, / t͡ʃ – d͡ʒ, fv / also belong to these pairs.

Fortis plosives / p, t, k / are in most varieties aspirated , said aspiration in initial stressed syllables most (for example, in T aler [ tʰaːlɐ ]), weaker in initial unstressed syllables (for example, in Va t he [ ˈFaːtʰɐ ]) and the weakest in the final syllable (for example in Saa t [ zaːt (ʰ) ]). No aspiration has in the combinations [ʃt ʃp] (for example, in St one [ʃtaɪ̯n] , Sp ur [ʃpuːɐ̯] ).

The Lenis consonants / b, d, ɡ, z, ʒ / are voiceless in most southern German varieties. To make this clear, they are often notated as [ b̥, d̥, ɡ̊, z̥, ʒ̊ ]. It is controversial what the phonetic difference between the voiceless Lenis consonants and the likewise voiceless Fortis consonants lies. It is usually described as a difference in articulation tension, but occasionally as a difference in articulation duration, most of the time it is assumed that one of these properties results in the other.

In northern German, the opposition between Fortis and Lenis in the final syllable is canceled (see final hardening ).

In various Central and South German varieties, the opposition between Fortis and Lenis in the initial sound of syllables is canceled, sometimes only in the initial sound of stressed syllables, sometimes in all cases ( internal German consonant weakening ).

The pair / f – v / is not one of the Fortis-Lenis pairs, since / v / remains voiced in the southern German varieties. Usually, the South German pronunciation of the voiced approximant is [⁠ ʋ ⁠] indicated. However, there are Southern German varieties, the between a Fortis-f ([f], for example, in Lagging f lich [ ʃtrɛːflɪç ] to MHG. Criminally and) a Lenis-f ([ V ], for example, in f lich [ høːv̥lɪç to MHG] . hovelîch ), analogous to the opposition of Fortis-s ([s]) and Lenis-s ([ ]).

According to example description
ʔ note / bəˈʔaxtən / Glottal stroke (crackling sound) - Often this sound is not described as a phoneme of the German language, but as a morphological boundary marking phenomenon.
b B iene / biːnə, b̥iːnə / a b he / aːbər, aːb̥ər / voiced bilabial plosive - Since this sound is voiceless ([ ]) in the southern varieties , it is often referred to as lenis rather than voiced.
ç I ch / ɪç /, Fur ch t / fʊrçt /, woman ch en / fra͡ʊçən /, non-southern varieties: Ch ina / ˈçiːna /, dreißi g / ˈdra͡ɪsɪç / voiceless palatal fricative (ego sound) - this sound forms a complementary allophone pair together with [x] . It occurs after anterior vowels and after consonants. In the diminutive suffix [ çən ] only this sound occurs. With the exception of this suffix occurs [⁠ ç ⁠] in southern varieties in syllable not, while it is often found in other varieties in a syllable. In non-southern varieties is [⁠ ç ⁠] a conventional allophone of / ⁠ ɡ ⁠ / in Silbenauslaut (after front vowels or consonants to); the moderate standard wording requires this spiraling only in the ending / ɪɡ /, but only for northern Germany, while otherwise the pronunciation / ɪk / applies.
d d ann / dan, d̥an /, La d en / ˈlaːdən, laːd̥ən / Voiced Alveolar Plosive - Since this sound is voiceless ([ ]) in the southern varieties , it is often referred to as lenis rather than voiced.
d͡ʒ Dsch ungel / ˈd͡ʒʊŋəl / voiced postalveolar affricates - this sound occurs only in foreign words. In the southern varieties which do not voiced plosives, it falls with [⁠ ⁠] together.
f V OGEL / foːɡəl / Ha f s / haːfən / voiceless labiodental fricative
ɡ G anɡ / ˈɡaŋ, ɡ̊aŋ /, La g er / ˈlaːɡər, laːɡ̊ər / voiced velar plosive - Since this sound is voiceless in the southern varieties ([ ɡ̊ ]), it is often referred to as lenis rather than voiced.
H H from / ha͡ʊs /, U h u / ˈuːhu / voiceless glottal fricative
j j ung / jʊŋ /, Bo j e / ˈboːjə / voiced palatal approximant
k K atze / kat͡sə / Stre ck e / ʃtrɛkə / voiceless velar plosive
l L amm / lam /, a ll e / ˈalə / voiced lateral alveolar approximant
m M from / maʊ̯s /, Da m e / daːmə / voiced bilabial nasal
n N ord / nɔrt /, Ka nn e / ˈkanə / voiced alveolar nasal
ŋ La ng / lan / si ng s / zɪŋən / voiced velar nasal
p P ate / ˈpaːtə /, Ma pp e / ˈmapə / voiceless bilabial plosive
p͡f Pf monkey / ˈp͡fafə /, A pf el / ˈap͡fəl / voiceless labiodental affricates
r ʀ ʁ r ot [ roːt, ʀoːt, ʁoːt ], sta rr e [ ˈʃtarə, ˈʃtaʀə, ˈʃtaʁe ], with vocalization: seh r [ zeːɐ̯ ], bess er [ ˈbɛsɐ ] voiced alveolar Vibrant ([r]), uvular trill ( [⁠ ʀ ⁠] ), voiced uvular fricative ( [⁠ ʁ ⁠] ) - These three sounds are free allophones. Their distribution is local, with [r] almost exclusively found in some southern varieties. In Silbenauslaut the / r / is often vocalized to [ ɐ ], especially after long vowels and in the unstressed extension / ər /, which in vocalization than [⁠ ɐ ⁠] is realized.
s Stra ß e / ˈʃtraːsə /, La s t / last /, Fä ss er / ˈfɛsər / voiceless alveolar fricative
ʃ School / ˈʃuːlə /, S tier / ʃtiːr /, S pur / ʃpuːr / voiceless postalveolar fricative
t T ag / taːk /, Ve tt er / ˈfɛtər / voiceless alveolar plosive
t͡s Z aun / t͡sa͡ʊn /, Ka tz e / ˈkat͡sə / voiceless alveolar affricates
t͡ʃ Eng lish / dɔʏtʃ / Ku ch e / kʊt͡ʃə / voiceless postalveolar affricates
v W inter / ˈvɪntər /, Lö w e / ˈløːvə / voiced labiodental fricative - At times this will sound as labiodental voiced approximant ( [⁠ ʋ ⁠] described).
x Book [buːx] unvoiced velar fricative - This sound (also called "uch" sound), together with the allophones [⁠ ç ⁠] and [χ] a phoneme. It occurs after / o: / and / u: /.
χ Bach [baχ] voiceless uvular fricative - this sound (also "ach" sound) forms a phoneme together with [ç] and [x]. It occurs after / a /, / a: /, / ɔ / and / ʊ /.
z s echs / zɛks, z̥ɛks /, as s e / ˈviːzə, ˈviːz̥ə / voiced alveolar fricative - Since this sound is voiceless ([ ]) in the southern varieties , it is often referred to as lenis rather than voiced.
ʒ G enie / ʒeˈniː, ʒ̊enˈiː /, Planta g e / planˈtaːʒə, planˈtaːʒ̊ə / voiced postalveolar fricative - This sound occurs only in foreign words. Since this sound is voiceless in the southern varieties ([ ʒ̊ ]), it is often referred to as lenis and not as voiced.

  bilabial labio-
alveolar post-
palatal velar uvular glottal
stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth. stl. sth.
Plosives p b     t d         k ɡ     ( ʔ )  
Nasals   m       n           ŋ        
Fricatives     f v s z ʃ ʒ ç   x   χ ʁ H  
Approximants                   j            
lateral approximants           l                    
Affricates     p͡f   t͡s   t͡ʃ d͡ʒ                


A typical feature of the phonotactic structure of German words are relatively complex consonant clusters in the word stems, conjugated forms and at the word fugue, which in the written, graphhotactic form (because of the di- and trigraphs used ) often appear particularly complex (e.g. blobs , show up, sweat of fear, write, serious, shrink, sigh, step, smooch, hold, autumn, now, writing, cut).


Word stress

In German words stem stress prevails, that is, it is emphasized the first syllable of the strain: " leh reindeer, Leh rer, Leh rerin, instructive way, Leh rerkollegium, be leh reindeer." Some prefixes and suffixes, however, draw the emphasis on itself "( from -spra-che, before sen -le-, Ba-CKE rei ) ."

In the case of compound words ( compound words ), the first word (defining word) is stressed almost exclusively. Exceptions include kilo me ter and year hun changed. The stressed syllable is spoken more strongly and therefore louder than the unstressed syllable (dynamic accent ).

No rules can be given for foreign words in German, as the stress is often taken over together with the word.


German knows three different melodies, namely falling, rising and floating (progressive) intonation . The falling intonation marks the end of sentences in expressive sentences and word questions, for example in the sentences: “When are you coming?” - “I'm coming now.” The floating intonation is used for pauses such as between the main and subordinate clauses. The increasing intonation is typical for sentence questions (including decision-making questions) such as: "Do you like to eat chocolate?" Verbal questions can also be spoken with increasing intonation if you want to give them a friendly tone.

An exception is Swiss Standard German , where the increasing intonation can also be found in statements.

The main accent in the sentence is on the rhema , mostly towards the end of the sentence. The raising or lowering of the voice is based on the last stressed syllable in the sentence. With falling intonation, this syllable is pronounced a little higher than the preceding ones. The following syllables then fall below the level of the sentence. If the last stressed syllable is a single word, this melody movement takes place within that word. With increasing intonation, the last stressed syllable is spoken a little lower in the same way.


The German language is characterized by what is known as a “dotted speech rhythm ”. In German, the stressed syllable towers over the unstressed syllables not only in their sonority, but also in terms of their length: Unstressed syllables following a stressed syllable are almost always spoken shorter.

Pronunciation rules

Vowel letters

Vowel letters and their vowel quality

  • a is [⁠ a ⁠] or [ ã ] spoken (Vokalphonempaar / a / - / A /), in unstressed syllable open: [a].
  • ä is [⁠ ɛ ⁠] or [ ɛː ] spoken (Vokalphonempaar / ⁠ ɛ ⁠ / - / ɛː /), in unstressed syllable open: [⁠ ɛ ⁠] .
Also note the special vowel quality in the grapheme combination äu [ ɔʏ̯ ] (see below).
  • e is pronounced [ɛ] or [eː] (vowel phoneme pair / ɛ / - / eː /), unstressed in an open syllable: [e] or [ə].
In unstressed open syllables in front of the stressed syllable, [e] is usually spoken ( e norm, B e ate) , in the prefixes bes and ges, however, regularly [ə] (b e achte, G e per) . After the stressed syllable usually [ə] is spoken in unstressed open syllables (especially such a can e before the letter l, n, r, t and at the end of words occur) (Ummant s development, far e r e , switching e t e ). In certain varieties, [e] is pronounced in all cases, as often in art singing or in Swiss German.
In unstressed closed syllables after the stressed syllable (= reduction syllables ), e (/ ɛ /) can also be pronounced as [ə] (next to [ɛ]), especially in the combinations el, em, en, er, es, et (at least e st e ns) . el, em, en are customarily as syllabic consonants [l, m, n] realized in more considerable talk as well as [əl, əm, ən] (Apf el , large em , ess s ) . en [n̩] is adjusted to the articulation point of the preceding plosive consonant (ie realized as [m̩] or [ŋ̩] after b / p or g / k : live en , weck en ). it is realized in many varieties as [ɐ], which in some regions a short [a] comes very close, in other varieties but also as a syllabic consonant [R] or [ər] (Vat He ) .
Also note the special vowel quality in the grapheme combinations eu, ei [ɔʏ̯, aɪ̯] and in proper names also ey [aɪ̯] (Meyer, Ceylon) (see below).
  • é is pronounced [eː] (unstressed [e]) (Variet é , Andr é ) .
  • i is pronounced [ɪ] or [iː] (vowel phoneme pair / ɪ / - / iː /), unstressed in an open syllable: [i].
  • o is spoken [ɔ] or [oː] (vowel phoneme pair / ɔ / - / oː /), unstressed in an open syllable: [o].
  • ö is spoken [œ] or [øː] (vowel phoneme pair / œ / - / øː /), unstressed in an open syllable: [ø].
  • u is pronounced [ʊ] or [uː] (vowel phoneme pair / ʊ / - / uː /), unstressed in an open syllable: [u].
Also note the special vowel quality in the grapheme combinations eu, äu [ɔʏ̯] (see below).
  • ü, y are pronounced [ʏ] or [yː] (vowel phoneme pair / ʏ / - / yː /), unstressed in an open syllable: [y].
y is pronounced in certain contexts according to the pronunciation rules for i : a) in positions where y is to be spoken unsyllabic (see below), namely at the beginning of the word and after vowel letters ( Y eight, Ba y ern) , b) unstressed am End of words (Part y ) , and c) sometimes in proper names (K y ffhäuser, Schw y z) .

Vowel letter combinations

Vowel letters that do not represent the syllable core of the stressed syllable are spoken unsilbic or consonantic under certain conditions (and form a diphthong together with the syllable vowel). This concerns on the one hand vowel letters that follow other vowel letters, and on the other hand vowel letters that precede other vowel letters (usually after consonant letters):

  • Usually spoken as a short syllabic vowel + unsilbic vowel (classic diphthongs): ai, ay, ao, au, oi, oy, ui (this is the basic rule and can be used productively e.g. for dialect spelling : äi, öi , oa, etc.), with an additional change in the vowel quality: ei, ey, eu, äu (in proper names sometimes also ui, uy, euy : spoken like eu ).
  • Often spoken as an unsyllabic vowel + syllabic vowel (short or long) : ia, iä, io etc. ( ie only partially), ya, ye, yo etc., ua, uä, uo etc., similarly often with ea, eo (ideal), oa (or oi in words from French instead of oa ), öo (homeo-) u. Ä. Unsyllabic i (similar to e ) and above all y often corresponds to a [j], unsyllabic u (sometimes similar to o ) can be spoken in certain cases [v]: regularly after q ( qu [kv]), sometimes also after k, s, t, g u. a. ( Biscuit, suite, case, partly also with possibly, linguistics ).

ii and uu (except after q ) are always spoken in two syllables (initiate, vacuum) .

Special vowel letter combinations that have their own phonetic value (di- and trigraphs) are to be distinguished from this: aa, ee, oo, ie (for length identification, see below); in foreign words also ou (pronunciation like u ), regularly eu (like ö ) with the ending eur , as well as many exceptional cases ; in proper names also ae (like ä or long a : Aerzen, Raesfeld ), oe (like ö or long o : Bonhoeffer, Soest ), oi (like long o : Voigt ), ue (like ü or long u : Ueckermünde, Buer ) , ui, uy (like long ü : Duisburg, Huy ), oey, öö (like long ö : Oeynhausen, Gööck ), uu (like long u : Luuk ) - compare stretch-e and stretch-i .

Differentiation of vowel quantity and quality for individual vowel letters

The German spelling describes the quantity (length) and thus also the quality (closed / open) of the vowels only partially directly. Nevertheless, the distinction between long and short resp. closed and open vowels and thus the decision as to which phoneme of a vowel phoneme pair is to be selected can usually be deduced from the spelling.

That it is a long vowel can through

  • the doubling of the vowel letter ( aa, ee, oo , e.g. as in tea ),
  • (if it is not a proper name, only with i ) by a following silent e ( ie as in love ) or
  • by a subsequent silent h ( ah, ah, eh, ih, ieh, oh, uh, uh, uh , as in number, search, able wehst him, draw, worth, Breakfast in proper names also yh as in Pyhra )

be made clearly. In unstressed syllables, however, vowels are sometimes even spoken briefly if the letter is accompanied by an expansion symbol (see vowel quantity # Orthographic problems in unstressed syllables ).

It should be noted that these letter combinations within a word are not always to be read as di- and trigraphs, but sometimes also separately:

  • aa, ee, oo, ie are mostly spoken separately in words that consist of several full vowel syllables (except at the end of the word and in the last syllable before -r (e) ) - especially if the second vowel letter belongs to a suffix: Canaan, zoological, orient; ideal, ideas, industrial, industries . At the end of the word and before -r (e) on the other hand as a long vowel: Idea, Zoo, Industry; Galley, rule, piano . The pronunciation of ie is often ambiguous in this position, that of ee : cf. Study / lot, premiere, azalea ,
  • h in ah, uh, eh etc. is not mute if another full vowel follows (except in front of the native word exits / suffixes -ig, -ich, -ung ): Uhu, maple, alcohol, nihilistic .

Individual vowel letters are regularly long if they are in open syllables (like the first “e” in “Leben” or the “a” in “guess”). An open syllable occurs when a single consonant letter plus a vowel letter follows in the word. Because a single consonant letter usually belongs to the next syllable.

Vowels, on the other hand, are often short in closed syllables, especially if further syllables follow in the word (“edge”, “hip”, “cloud”).

This is why the rule is derived that two identical consonant letters (also "ck" and "tz") after a single vowel indicate its abbreviation (for example in "Sonne", "erren", "Rat", "Masse"), because the consonant shown twice belongs to both syllables and thus makes the first syllable a closed one.

Conversely, a single consonant letter (including ß , the use of which is justified in this functional demarcation to “ss”) indicates the length of the preceding vowel (“crown”, “hear”, “guess”, “measure”), da he, as I said, leaves the vowel in an open syllable. (Exception: the consonant letter x - before “x” a single vowel letter is always spoken briefly, e.g. “witch”, “ax”.)

Also long are vowels that are in closed syllables, but which can be expanded to create an open syllable. “Hear” is a closed syllable, “Hö” in “Hear” is open, so the “ö” in “Hear” is spoken long.

Also long are vowels that are in closed syllables, which cannot be expanded to open syllables, but which are clearly built up in parallel to such expandable syllables. “Fruit” has a noticeably parallel structure to “lobst” (from “loben”), since from the pronunciation the letter p would actually be expected instead of b .

This can be generalized: Long are vowels before the consonant letters "b", "d", "g", "ß" (if "t", "s" or "st" follows) as well as before "gd" and "ks" . (These mark the long pronunciation, as they are used instead of the otherwise expected “p”, “t”, “k”, “s”; “kt” and “x” / “chs”). The predictability of the vowel length applies first this consonant letter is independent of the expandability of the syllables. Compare: "Fruit" / "Praise" (long) vs. "Optical" (short), "cancer" / "live" vs. "Klops", "eloquent" / "loads" vs. "Nice", "Vogt" / "lays" vs. "Sekt", "fun" vs. "Fast", "maid" / "hunt" vs. "Nude", "biscuit" / "piksen" vs. "fix". In proper names, this also applies to “w” (instead of “f”) and “sd” (instead of “st”): “Drews”, “Dresden”.

Before other clusters of consonant letters , the vowels are usually short (as these are often closed syllables). However, there are some before which vowels can be short or long ("tsch", "st", "chs", "nd", "rd" etc.) or are usually long ("br", "kl", “Tr” and others); especially before di- and trigraph : before “ch”, “sch” mostly short, before “ph”, “th” mostly long).

Individual vowels in words made up of closed syllables with only one consonant letter at the end, but which do not have an extended form with a long vowel (usually function words and prefixes), such as “with”, “ab”, “um”, “un” - "(according to the old spelling also" that "," miss- "), are mostly spoken briefly (but long:" dem "," now ", before" r ":" the "," he "," we ", "For", "ur-"). This pronunciation rule is also applied to nouns and adjectives under certain conditions: For (orthographically) not yet fully integrated words from English and French (“Top”, “fit”, “Bus”, “chic”), for so-called abbreviation words ( "TÜV", "MAZ"), with some obscure word components ("blackberry"). In general, this rule applies to words with “x” (see above) and (if it occurs in exceptional cases) to words with “j” at the end (“Fax”; “Andrej”, “ahoj”). According to the old spelling, this also applied to some of the words with "ß": "Nuss", "Boß", "Eß!" The short pronunciation of the vowel in those words that do not have the double consonant at the end of the word can be deduced from the fact that there are related forms with a short vowel marked orthographically (short vowel for "in" because of "inside", " fit "because of" fitter "," bus "because of" buses "," top "because of" toppen "," nut "because of" nuts "; however, long:" biotope "because of" biotopes "," foot " due to "feet").

In proper names (family and geographical names), the vowel abbreviation cannot always be clearly determined, even before consonants represented twice. In particular, "ck", "ff", "ss" and "tz", but also others, appear there not only after short vowels ("Bismarck", "Hauff", "Zeiss", "Hartz", "Kneipp") , "Württemberg"). A single vowel in front of these double letters can be exceptionally long: “Buckow”, “Mecklenburg”, “Bonhoeffer”, “Gross”, “Lietzensee”.

Since "ss" is used instead of the eszett in Switzerland, "ss" is the only double consonant letter (outside of proper names) that does not indicate the abbreviation of the preceding vowel; In this case, the length or shortness of the vowel cannot be predicted (as is otherwise also the case with the di- and trigraphs “ch”, “sch” and others).

German pronunciation in classical singing

Compared to the spoken theater stage, (classical) vocal music uses a slightly varied pronunciation.

  • The clarity of sung speech sake the schwa often than [⁠ ɛ ⁠] sung.
  • In classical music, the r is always pronounced with the tip of the tongue as [r]. This also applies to the ending -er, unless the r at the end of the word is simply left out.
  • The glottic beat in the initial vowel is sometimes perceived as ugly in music, it often falls away in favor of an aspirated tone approach, which, however, leads to technical vocal problems and impairment of text comprehensibility.

Apart from that, the consonants are usually pronounced much more forcefully in classical music than in spoken German. This also serves to improve speech intelligibility.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Werner König : dtv atlas on the German language. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1989, pp. 104, 149.
  2. Eva-Maria Krech, Eberhard Stock, Ursula Hirschfeld et al .: German pronunciation dictionary . Berlin 2010, p. 1.
  3. Jörg Jesch: Basics of speech training. Walter de Gruyter, 1973, p. 39. [1]
  4. Werner Geiger et al .: speaking at the microphone at Swiss Radio DRS. Schweizer Radio DRS, 2006, p. 39. [2] (PDF)
  5. On the German consonants from a synchronous and diachronic point of view, see Fausto Cercignani : The Consonants of German: Synchrony and Diachrony . Cisalpino, Milano 1979.
  6. ^ Ulrich Ammon , Hans Bickel , Jakob Ebner, Ruth Esterhammer, Markus Gasser, Lorenz Hofer, Birte Kellermeier-Rehbein, Heinrich Löffler, Doris Mangott, Hans Moser, Robert Schläpfer, Michael Schloßmacher, Regula Schmidlin, Günter Vallaster: Variant Dictionary of German . The standard language in Austria, Switzerland and Germany as well as in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, East Belgium and South Tyrol . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York 2004, ISBN 3-11-016575-9 , pp. LVII .
  7. ^ "Siebs", regional high accentuation