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32

Consonant density This is a factor because consonants are often perceived more harsh than vowels. German is a very vowel-rich language. There are reasonable vowel definitions containing 23 of them (see, e.g., this list) plus three diphthongs¹. Consequently, vowels have a high information density,² we do not have to use that many of them, which in turn ...


14

As @Jan said, the so called Auslautverhärtung definitely plays into that, but if you think in terms of pronunciation and intonation you'll also notice that many languages link their words together in ways that the German language simply doesn't. Take English for example; among other things, words that begin with a vowel are usually linked to the word that ...


13

The ulvular trill of the German r is tricky for us. I can do it after a vowel but not very well at the start of a word. The ch in ich takes a while to master, but mostly because beginners tend to assimilate it with English sh, not because it's terribly hard. The ch in nach is easier. ü also takes a while to get to grips with. I consider none of the other ...


11

Try to speak the German word for "matchbox" Streichholzschachtel [ˈʃtʀaɪ̯ç.hɔlʦˌʃaχ.tl̩] and then you know, which consonants are difficult to pronounce.


9

Have a look at this guide to German pronunciation. It seems to cover a number of the points you'd like explained.


9

The pronunciation you heard for both Dostojewski and Gouda are the ones every German would reproduce. I would blame school subjects, mostly. While everyone gets taught English and many people French, which also means that there is a critical mass of speakers of those languages that everyone will have heard the correct pronunciation, Russian and Dutch are ...


7

Ich hoffe, dass es in Ordnung ist wenn ich auf Deutsch antworte. Es ist meine Muttersprache, und darin kann ich mich besser ausdrücken als auf Englisch. Auf Anfrage übersetzte ich meine Antwort jedoch auch gerne ins Englische. Die Beobachtung, dass Deutschsprachige generell dazu tendieren, Wörter bestimmter Sprachen (Englisch, Französisch) wie in der ...


7

Here are some ones from my own experience: The word order is at times very confusing. For example, in Spanish, we might say, "yo no estoy haciendo eso", while in German one would say "Ich mache das nicht" (the negation goes after the verb). Also, in Spanish the omitted subject is very common (e.g. "Pasó como te dije"), whereas it is less often used in ...


6

'What happened' is a very broad question, that in this context requires a multitude of answers. What happened in spoken German These words derive from old Proto-Germanic stems that indeed contained a [s] sound. *swōtuz for süß *sebun for sieben *sunþrą for Süden, main form of süd- Throughout the course of sound shifts and two millenia, these sounds had ...


5

Wikipedia bietet eine wunderbare Übersicht darüber, wann das S stimmhaft gesprochen wird: im Anlaut vor Vokal, zwischen zwei Vokalen, zwischen [l], [m], [n], [ŋ], [r] und Vokal, sowie vor [l], [m], [n], [r], wenn es eine verwandte Wortform gibt, bei der vor diesen Konsonanten ein Schwa gesprochen wird. Beispiele: Sage [ˈzaːgə] oder [ˈz̥aːg̥ə], ...


5

Most native English speakers have difficulties with the sound ch, pronounced like the guttural ch in Scottish "loch." Also, the correct pronunciation of the different forms of r is a problem for many people from English speaking countries.


5

Another difference is that "b" and "w" is very close in Spanish. So words such as "Badewanne" (bath tube) are often pronounced similiar to "Wadebanne".


5

As a native Spanish speaker, I would say that the most common mistakes are: Phonetic: As there are no sounds like "ä", "ö" or "ü" in Spanish, Spanish speakers tend to pronounce them as "e", "o" and "u" respectively. There is also the difference between "sch", "ch", "tsch" and "s" at the beginning of some words which can cause some difficulties. Grammar: ...


5

There is a short but quite concise overview on German pronunciation on Wikipedia. When it comes to more profound details definitions from the International Phonetic Association (IPA) are recommended. Pronunciation examples that are found on most online dicitionaries are based on IPA rules using their clearly defined Phonetic Alphabet. Here are a few ...


5

The classical book concerning this topic is Der kleine Hey, which is also used by professional singers. As I just learned, there is also an edition with an enclosed DVD (ISBN 9783795707026), which gives an impression, how the mouth should look like etc.


5

Yes, they would. iShelf is pronounced [aɪʃɛlf] and iSelf is pronounced [aɪsɛlf]. The differing sounds [ʃ] and [s] are both part of the German phoneme repertoire and distinguishing them is essential to understand the German language. For example, the German words Busch ([bʊʃ]) and Bus ([bʊs]) or Sex ([sɛks]) and Schecks ([ʃɛks]) only differ by that sound. ...


4

Wrzlprmft’s answer is great and definitely deserves the acceptance. However, there is another aspect he failed to address: aspiration. In German, (almost) all unvoiced stops are aspirated, whether they occur word-initial (Tor) word-final (rot) or word-internal (hatte). By comparison, in French or Finnish stops are always unaspirated and in English they are ...


3

I think, the answer really neither depends on how well a certain language is spoken in Germany nor the educational level. I rather think, it depends on the assumption, which languages should be spoken correctly with a high level of education. English, French, Latin and old Greek all once were lingua franca in Europe. They are the general compass of old/new ...


3

I don't know about Spanish, but I know many Italian people who speak German. Since Spanish and Italian are both Roman languages, the following problems mostly apply to Spanish too. One problem they face is that some nouns have different genders, for example la luna (fem.) → der Mond (masc.) il sole (masc.) → die Sonne (fem.) Another difficult ...


3

There's also a Wikibook, which isn't complete, but it's summarized and has a few good hints: Wikibook – German/Grammar/Alphabet_and_Pronunciation A simple method of recognizing whether a vowel is likely to be long or short in a German word is called the Rule of double consonants. If a vowel is followed by a single consonant — as in haben (have) [or] ...


3

In Standard High German (other than some southern dialects of German) [z] (voiced alveolar fricative) is an allophone of [s] (voiceless alveolar fricative) when it occurs in the onset of a syllable, that is you will never find a [s] in the beginning of a (phonological) word. Since this is a universal phonological „rule“ it is not necessary to encode this in ...


3

This is not restricted to s, it also happens for p, t, k, f resp. b, d, g, w (and I think v needs extra rules in the first place). The Wikipedia article states the rules between this switch between the lenis/fortis-variants in detail, and says this is a "typical phenomenon in German". To make things even more confusing, it works differently in different ...


3

My father (American) always had huge differences with the German R. He tended to form it from the tip of the tongue (rolling). I guess the difficult part was realizing how similar the German and English versions are.


2

As a Brazilian, my native language is Brazilian Portuguese. I found it much, much easier to learn the German phonemes than the English ones, both to understand and to pronunce them. However, there are some phonemes that are a bit tricky in German. The umlauted vowels are a bit of a challenge. However the ch is way harder. I can say I did not "get it" yet. ...


2

Don't trouble with holding paper in front of your mouth, I never do. I think when you pronounce "schbaren" that is okay (at least in the south of Germany people pronounce it that way). Listen to speakers on the radio and forget the complicated things they tell you in books about pronunciation. Or try to get audio material from libraries. /p/ and /b/ sound ...


2

Outside of IPA many companies and organizations use their own system to express phonetics, so somewhere on their website there should be a key to their pronunciation system. One thing I noticed is that Hueber is seated in Munich, adaba are from Austria. Therefore some influence from Bavarian dialect may be the cause of a different pronunciation ...


2

Googling gives for instance: the site deutscheaussprache offers precisely those examples, very limited in number though. This site gives you some lists of minimal pairs. Get a German-[your-language] tandem partnership and tell him/her to read those for you.


2

I agree that the difference you are aluding to exists, e.g. "TrotzDEM ich starke Kopfschmerzen hatte, bin ich zum Training gegangen." (i.e. in the meaning of trotzdessen, or obwohl as you said) vs. "Ich hatte starke Kopfschmerzen, TROTZdem bin ich zum Training gegangen." (here you could use nichtsdestotrotzinstead, or also trotzdessen, ...


1

The idea that German speakers try to pronounce words of foreign origin like the original seems to me essentially incorrect. It does not even work like that with a closely-related language like Swedish. You can bet that a German speaker would get all the following Swedish words and names wrongly pronounced: Gösta gylden Wilander Kerstin själ Göteborg kedja. ...


1

There is this IPA-based German pronunciation site called Sounds of Speech from the University of Iowa. It's a Flash-based web application with animated diagrams (Android and iPhone apps also available). They have this for American English and Spanish, too. http://soundsofspeech.uiowa.edu (Silly, though, that the infos are completely in German-language, so ...



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