Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A 'v' in the beginning of a word can be pronounced in one of two ways:

  • /f/: Vater, verrückt, vier, Vogel.
  • /v/: Vanille, Verb, Villa, Vokal, vulgär.

My question: Is there a way to know how a word should be pronounced without looking it up?

Bonus question: Wiktionary has a lot of ver-words transcribed with /v/, e.g. verleben, vergammelt, vernetzen. Are they pronounced like that in some dialect?

share|improve this question
1  
I couldn't come up with a /f/-word that begins in "vu" or "vi" (but not in "vie"), but would love to have such an example if there is one. –  Tim N Jun 25 '11 at 21:22
2  
vulgär, Vulkan, both /v/ (foreign origin). Words beginning with "vi" only are all of foreign origin and pronounced /v/. Words beginning with "vie" are most likely of Germanic origin, vier, Vieh, viel. –  teylyn Jun 25 '11 at 23:46
add comment

3 Answers 3

In most cases (and true for your examples):

Germanic words are pronounced /f/ loan-words (especially Latin) are pronounced /v/.

In particular, true German words starting with "ver-" are pronounced /f/, but not "Verdikt", say.

share|improve this answer
5  
True German words starting with "ver-" are pronounced /f/, not /v/. –  teylyn Jun 25 '11 at 23:47
    
I think this is another example of a difference most people wouldn't notice. At least for myself I can say I've never noticed that "Vater" and "Vanille" start with a different sound. It's much the same as the different "S"s, I think. –  ladybug Jun 27 '11 at 8:50
add comment

The letter V is pronounced /f/ except for words of foreign origin.

Vanille, Verb, Villa, Vulgär, Vulkan, Vase

share|improve this answer
add comment

I never heard a German dialect that uses /v/ for words like ver(-)gammelt. I have lived in the west and north of Germany and in Berlin.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.