When I hear Americans pronounce words and names of German origin, they almost always pronounce w as if it were in an American English word.

This got me wondering: I’m sure most or almost all of these instances is the result of American anglicisation, but is there any German dialect where it is pronounced that way? Could there be any German with a Germanic surname who might have moved to the US already pronouncing the w in their name that way?

  • 3
    A simple and thorough answer would be "no"
    – Beta
    Apr 4, 2018 at 14:28
  • 4
    @Beta Then you should write an answer instead of a comment :)
    – Arsak
    Apr 4, 2018 at 16:55
  • As a foreigner, I noticed this too (and I'm always very aware of such things). Germans may think they pronounce it as an English "v", but in reality, they usually don't. They pronounce a "w" as in English or Dutch. I guess I'll get a lot of flak for this, but it is something I observed many many times. Apr 5, 2018 at 18:58
  • I knew someone who pronounced a more or less American English "r" by default but I believe his "w" was still pretty German. I think he was from a city in Saxony with its own local dialect that differed greatly from standard Saxon. Taking Wrzlprmft's answer into account it is well possible that this originated in the strong Sorbic influence in some parts of Saxony.
    – hajef
    May 26, 2019 at 13:35

7 Answers 7


Could there be any German with a Germanic surname who might have moved to the US already pronouncing the w in their name that way?

Not exactly Germanic, but through the Polish immigration to Germany, there are some surnames to which the following happened (and which I witnessed in reality):

  • The origin is a Polish surname, which contains a ł, e.g. Domagała. This was commonly pronounced /w/ like the English w (e.g., in were).

  • Upon immigration to Germany, ł was transcribed as a w, e.g., the surname turned into Domagawa.

  • For some reason (keeping the heritage, genealogical emphasis), some members of the family keep or return to pronouncing the w as /w/ instead of /v/.

Now, all you need is these people migrating once more to the US.


Short answer: no.

"W" in German is always pronounced like "V" in English. The "W" (exactly) as pronounced in English doesn't exist in any German dialect. (See Ralf's and Thorsten's answers which get very close.)

Could there be any German with a Germanic surname who might have moved to the US already pronouncing the 'w' in their name that way?

Yes, there could.

  • Waaaaas? I pronounce the w in was or Wattenscheidt as in English/Dutch/etc. So does everyone around me. On the contrary, I do notice that some Germans pronounce the English name Victor" as *Wiktor (English/Dutch/whatever W sound, not V sound) . Germans often seem to have problems pronouncing a proper v like in vase or as in my name). Also reminds me that in German, a V is usually pronounced as an F; think of the Commodore Vic 20 home computer, which was renamed VC 20 in Germany. <g> Apr 5, 2018 at 17:17
  • 3
    You seem to misunderstand - the German phoneme for "W" is like the English one for "V" - Vuttenshite for an English speaker. The closest you get to the English "W" is "U" in German.
    – Zac67
    Apr 5, 2018 at 17:52
  • 1
    When you talk about phonems, please don't use latin letters. Use the IPA-Symbols for phonems instead: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_IPA-Zeichen Apr 5, 2018 at 21:31
  • 1
    @Rudy Velthuis: Das muss ein komisches Uattenschait sein, von dem du da sprichst. In meinem Wattenscheid sprechen die Leute ihre Stadt ganz normal aus, zumindest war es früher so, ich hatte da mal gearbeitet. Vielleicht hat sich das ja geändert, die vielen amerikanischen Filme im Fernsehen und so... Manchmal sprechen ältere Leute sehr nachlässig, aber nur sehr alte Leute, dann sparen Sie eine halbe Millijoule, wenn sie die Unterlippe nicht bis an die oberen Schneidezähne bringen. Hab's grade mal selbst probiert, hört sich ein bisschen an wie Froschquaken - also nein, wirklich nicht! Apr 6, 2018 at 15:52
  • 2
    @Rudy Velthuis: Ich bin nicht sicher, dass ich dich richtig verstehe mit dem 'englischen W', und das andere, was du erzählst, kann ich nicht nachvollziehen. Hier mal ein 'schönes' Lied aus der fraglichen Zone, da kann sich ja dann jeder selbst 'en Höreindruck verschaffen, wie 'Wattenscheid' ausgesprochen wird: youtube.com/watch?v=FaFlq7j_ubY ca. ab 0:30. Apr 7, 2018 at 19:38

I know only two dialects where this is the case in some regions: Rheinländisch and Bayerisch.

One example for the former would be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOFrToWlu-4


Die Antwort von @Zac67 ist richtig, allerdings:


ca. 0:21

Ist nicht wirklich so wie im Amerikanischen, aber auch nicht so wie im Standarddeutschen, sondern immerhin bilabial. Ich habe keine Ahnung, wie typisch das ist.

Außerdem gibt's im Bayrischen ein 'ui' für das standarddeutsche 'il', z.B. 'Fuim' für 'Film', oder im Satz 'Do san vui zvui Preissen do.' Das ist aber eine andere Geschichte, es hat nur eine entfernte Ähnlichkeit mit engl. 'we' und das 'u' steht hier auch nicht für ein 'w' ...

  • 1
    Ja, der Laut ist auf jeden Fall sehr ähnlich, aber nicht ganz dasselbe.
    – Zac67
    Apr 5, 2018 at 13:23

/u/ followed by another vowel, as in "Linguistik" or the given name "Eduard", sounds very similar to the English /w/.

  • 1
    Didn't the OP ask if there is a German dialect that pronounces the letter w in the English way? I can't see any w in »Eduard« Apr 5, 2018 at 21:27
  • 1
    Edward mag Lingwistik, denn er ist Linwistiker. There you go! ;)
    – thymaro
    Apr 9, 2018 at 5:12

Although this not German, there are Polish Surnames like:

Steve Wozniak(Woz) is pronounced with the American "W" instead of a "V" sound like in German or Polish.

There are no places where I have seen/heard the "W" Pronounced like an American "W", I guess an American Immigrant community could work if you want to settle with that


Short Answer: No.

Btw: Imho, the closest you can get in German to the American pronounciation of 'W' - as in "Wood" ... is 'W' - as in "Wut" ...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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