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I thought there are two rounded vowels in German as in French 'oui'(u- front rounded?) and 'soeur'(o-like front rounded?). but I find three or more of them and I'm confused...

One is ø : der knödel [ˈknøːdl̩], der Brötchen. One is oe : der Stöckelschuh /ʃtœkl̩ˌʃuː/

and the other one is y : der Schnürsenkel /ˈʃnyːɐ̯ˌsɛŋkl̩/

Are ø and oe alike? and I guess y is the only u-like front vowel in German?

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    German vowels come in short/long pairs, and the short and long vowels also differ in quality. – Carsten S Aug 2 '17 at 6:15
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German has four front rounded vowels.

long  ö [øː]: Brötchen     (as in French "peu")
short ö [œ]:  Stöckelschuh (as in French "sœur")
long  ü [yː]: Schnürsenkel (similar to French "rue", but longer)
short ü [⁠ʏ⁠]:  Hütte        (similar to French "plus", but more like "i")

The French oui has none of these but [w] instead.

  • The vowels [⁠ʏ⁠] and [øː] have pretty much the same quality. They are distinct because [⁠ʏ⁠] is short/checked while [øː] is long/free, and perceived to be very different because of the spelling. This means the closest French equivalent to the vowel in Hütte is the vowel in peu. – mach Aug 3 '17 at 17:24

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