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I watched a few videos on German alphabet, like these 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6vquyjxImk and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlYLQvtG1as.

It seems like the difference between E and I is very subtle - both sound like "ee" in English to me. How do I make sure I pronounce it correctly.

This question is about pronouncing the letters E and I themselves, outside words.


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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The English ee, as in speech, is the same sound as the German I [iː]. There is no exact equivalent to German E [eː] in the standard varieties of English (Received Pronunciation, General American).

The difference in pronunciation is the degree to which the jaw is opened; [e] is less open than [i]. The position of the tongue is the same for both vowels (namely, in the front).

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Thanks, but I still don't understand. Could you give a couple of examples for I and E? I feel like "neben" and "isst" are good examples on how to say E and I; am I right? –  Oleksiy Sep 12 '13 at 6:17
Neben is fine; but isst has a short i that in German is not only shorter, but slightly less open and less front as well. Examples with a long i: sie, die, Biene, niedrig. –  chirlu Sep 12 '13 at 6:29
@Oleksiy But only the first e in "neben". The latter one is either is omitted (nebn) or may sound almost like ä in some regions (nebän). –  Em1 Sep 12 '13 at 7:07
@Oleksiy There might be differences based on your dialect, but I believe the German "e" to sound like the expression "meh" while the German "i" sounds like "me". –  npst Sep 12 '13 at 10:25
In addition, in many regions the sound "ä" is more and more pronounced as an "e": ähnlich --> ehnlich, schräg --> schrehg etc. –  marsze Sep 12 '13 at 12:23

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