19

Often I hear different pronunciations for the word

Nichts

Some people pronounce it as

Nics

(Well, it sounds like "Nics".)

Does it make any difference? Is this a different dialect? Is it good to use as "Nics"?

17

It's actually

nix

It's slang for nichts, as you have guessed.


I'd love to say something more but, first, I'd like to understand what is "good to use" (obviously, don't write nix it in a formal context!), and, secondly, I'm not an expert. Whence I'm pretty sure somebody will illuminate us with a better answer.

  • 1
    nix is shorter and easier to pronounce than nichts. Obviously, you shouldn't use it in written german. If you're dealing with friends, it's ok to shorten it. – Binkan Salaryman Mar 17 '15 at 15:49
  • As I am learning German, it is just a suggestion I need on when to be used and not to be used. – SriLaks Mar 17 '15 at 16:19
  • @SriLaks It wouldn't be ok in a homework. It would be ok in communication with friends, say, by chat. It's vernacular. – c.p. Mar 17 '15 at 16:28
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    I think this is an ordinary dialect word. – Carsten S Mar 17 '15 at 19:51
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    To a learner I would recommend to use the standard pronunciation. – rogermue Jul 16 '15 at 12:12
14

Nix is, as was already pointed out, a colloquial, informal, shorter form of nichts.

Nix does not derive from any specific dialect; rather it is present in one form or another in most dialects. There are rare exceptions like the Berlin dialect prefering nüscht

It is okay to use in very informal writings, like text messages to friends or in a chat etc. Do not use it in any kind of more official written context; even in a letter to good friends, I would spell out nichts 99 % of the time.

It is also okay to use it in most contexts when speaking. (e.g: If my supervisor asks me if I had any success in an experiment, I can hear myself answering da hab ich nix rausbekommen but if I were in a job interview, I would make sure to use nichts most of the time.)

There are people (like me) who will pronounce nix in almost every spoken context while there are others that will pronounce nichts more often; I think that this is due to speaker's preference.

1

"Nix" is dialectal. Dialects which have this form exist in Northern Germany and in Bavaria. Because of this wide range, it can also be used in colloquial speech as most/all Germans will understand it. It is not slang, but use of this form might have a surprise value that would stress the message of "nothing".

By the way, "ik" is not a different way of saying "ich". Actually, it is an older form that predates the High German consonant shift and exists in dialects in which this shift has not fully taken effect, i.e. in the North.

1

Nix is basically the up-coming new, simplified pronunciation of nichts. As it is still rather young, it's not yet considered 'proper' German but purely colloquial, so the spelling has not been updated, and so, when you find the word nichts in a written text, you can't pronounce it nix when reading it aloud. It has a status similar to it's for it is and many other similar contractions in English, except it's still a bit more informal. Nix is how it is spelled when it does occur in written German, typically in informal dialogue.

0

As the OP's question has yet to be fully addressed--even the accepted answer does not really do the job--allow me to point out the difference in pronunciation. To an English speaker, nix sounds like "nicks," whereas nichts is much different. The ch sound in the German does not exist in either British or American English.

It may be described as a hollow, windy sound made near the back of the throat, and if air is not passing over your tongue when you say the ch-sound, you aren't saying it correctly.

Many speakers of English mistakenly articulate the German ch as a "k" phoneme. Common examples of butchered pronunciations are the simple German words doch (mispronounced as "dock") and Ich (misspoken as "ick").

But the ch sounds neither like a "k" nor an "sh," thus nichts is not properly pronounced as either "niks" or "nishts." To get help learning the correct tongue position for the ch-sound, practice the starting sound of English words like "Hugh" or "huge," as this is probably the closest approximation to the German ch an English speaker has.

  • In "nichts" there is no hard ch sound at all. It's similar to English "sh" as in "English" (in some dialects even identical). In "nix" there's isn't anything special either. It's like "ks" in "fix". – Em1 Mar 18 '15 at 10:21
  • On a side note: Some Germans pronounce "ich" as "ick" in their dialect. – Em1 Mar 18 '15 at 10:23
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    @Em1, I suppose "hard" was meant in the sense of "difficult". I was perplexed by this as well. – Carsten S Mar 18 '15 at 11:57
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    The question on the table is: What is the difference in pronounciation [sic] of “Nichts” and “Nics”? To be clear, the accepted response explaining the slang relationship between those two words does not answer the question. Further, the response explaining the acceptability of pronouncing nix over nichts, without once describing the actual difference in the sound of those two words, does not address the OP's question either. – Mac Mar 18 '15 at 14:40
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    @Carsten: I understood the question quite well. My criticisms were not attacks and ought not to be taken as such. I merely pointed out the two responses prior to mine did not address the OP's headline question. – Mac Mar 18 '15 at 14:44

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