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Is there a list of words that demonstrates all German consonant and vowel sounds, including the rule that applies and its IPA representation?

For example:

  • short and long vowels
  • diphthongs
  • ending d

This was helpful: German Pronunciation Guide: Vowels, Consonants & Accents, but I don't know if it is exhaustive.

  • edit *

I’m trying to learn the language.

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  • I think it would help to know what you're planning to do with it. Are you beginning German for the first time and looking for a basic sound guide? Or are you a linguist doing a comparative phonology study between German and Dutch?
    – RDBury
    Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 3:04
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    I'm not quite sure what kind of list you mean -- is it minimal pairs? Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 7:33
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    @craig That list you found is ok, but as far as I see not complete. When I looked at it it misses (at least) one sound. The 'ch' has two possible pronounciations and one is missing completely: the 'ch' sound as in "Ich" (as opposed to the 'ch' in 'machen'). I know no such comprehensive list, others sure might and I will be surprised if it doesn't exit. But maybe search for ' "phonetic alphabet" German '. Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 8:51

2 Answers 2

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The following list of phonemes is based on: Klaus J. Kohler, Einführung in die Phonetik des Deutschen, 2nd revised edition, Berlin: Erich Schmidt, 1995; chapters 6.1.1 and 6.1.2.

The example words are links to https://de.wiktionary.org/; the pages there have audio examples. When multiple example words are given, the potential reasons are: to indicate the various spellings of the phoneme in question, or to indicate its different realisations (i.e. allophones, especially for /x/ and /r/).

Note that Kohler analyses /pf/, /ts/ as a combination of two phonemes. The combination /ts/ is interesting in that is is orthographically represented by z, as in Zeit.

I have tried to keep this answer short and to the point. For details, I recommend the Wikipedia article Standard German phonology. If anything is unclear, I advise looking at the transcriptions and listening to the examples at Wiktionary.

Tense (long) vowels

Note that h can be used to indicate that the preceding vowel is long. Less frequently, the vowel is doubled, as in Schnee. Finally, ie always represents long /i/.

Lax (short) vowels

A double consonant (mm, ll, etc.; but also ck and tz) indicates that the preceding vowel is short.

Diphthongs

Reduced vowel

Spelled e; only occurs in unstressed syllables.

Consonants

Plosives

Note that because of final obstruent devoicing, /b/, /d/, /g/ can be realised as [p], [t], [k].

Fricatives

Note that because of final obstruent devoicing, /v/, /z/ can be realised as [f], [s].

The phoneme /x/ is realised as [x] or [χ] following /a/ or a back vowel and as [ç] otherwise.

Nasals

Others

The phoneme /r/ is most commonly realised as [ʁ] or [ʁ̞]. Regionally or stilistically, other realisations are possible. For speakers that use [ʁ] or [ʁ̞], /r/ is usually vocalised as [ɐ] in post-vocalic position, i.e. /for/ is pronounced [foːɐ̯] and /bir/ is pronounced [biːɐ̯].

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  • In fact [r], [ʀ] and [ʁ] can be used interchangeably. Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 20:46
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If you're learning German then the link you gave should be enough to be getting on with. But it will be more useful to actually listen rather than to read descriptions, so you might be interested in the first few sections of Learn German for Beginners Complete A1 German Course with Herr Antrim. Herr Antrim is not a native speaker but his accent seems pretty close, at least to my ears.

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  • This was really helpful.
    – craig
    Commented Feb 18, 2022 at 13:42

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