PRONOUNCING GERMAN VOWELS


German vowels have both long and short variants, and would-be long vowels are often shortened when they precede multiple consonants (e.g. Schmidt = shmit, not shmeet). Likewise, would-be short vowels are lengthened by doubling of the vowel (e.g. Staat = shtaht, Boot = boht, See = zay), or by the letter "h" placed after the vowel (e.g. Mahler = mah-ler, ohne = oh-nuh). Also take note of the German final e: it's not silent, but it is very short.

German has eight vowels: a, e, i, o, u, , , . They can be short or long. Vowel length makes a difference in word meaning. also German has three diphthongs: ai, oi, au.

Pronounciation German Vowel:



A long Long like a in hard.
     
  short Between the vowels in English "hut" and "hot". Very short and clipped.

E long Like the vowel in English "say", but with lips extremely spread and no offglide into an "ee"-sound.
     
  short Short like e in set, but even shorter.

I long Long like ee in feet.
     
  short Like the vowel in English "mitt", but very short and clipped.

O long Like the vowel in English "so", but with lips extremely rounded and no offglide into an "ooh"-sound.
     
  short Short like o in hot, but even shorter.

U long Long like oo in boot, said with pursed lips.
     
  short Like the vowel in English "bush", but very short and clipped.

long The long "" sound - which can be written "" or "h", but never "" - is pronounced like the "a" sound in the English "day" or "played", but the German sound is a longer one which does not slide away into "ee" as the English sounds tends.
     
  short The short "" sound - which can only be written "" - sounds like the "e" in English "get" or "set".

long Some what like the vowel in English "burn". To produce it, say the German long e, then round the lips as for the long o. Do not allow your tongue to move toward the back of your mouth as you round your lips.
     
  short A shorter version of German long . To produce it, say the German short e, then round the lips as for the short o. Do not allow your tongue to move toward the back of your mouth as you round your lips.

long The German long "" and short "" are two of the hardest sounds for the English speaker to master, as there are no direct equivalents in the English language. ( ) similar to ew in pew; more like ue in French rue.
     
  short A shorter version of German long . To produce it, say the German short i, then round the lips as for short u. Do not allow your tongue to move toward the back of your mouth as you round your lips.


Pronouncing diphthongs:


Diphthongs are combinations of two vowels in one syllable (as in the English lie), and the German language has quite a few of them.

Instead of being pronounced separately, the two letters have one sound or pronunciation. An example would be the au combination. The diphthong au in German always has the sound OW, as in English ouch (the "ou" being an English diphthong; the au is also part of the German word autsch, which is pronounced almost the same as ouch in English!) Obviously, this kind of information is very useful to know when you are trying to pronounce German.
  • [ai]
    Pronunciation: Like the vowel sound in English "mine", but more clipped and tense.

  • [oi]
    Pronunciation: Like the vowel sound in English "coin", but more clipped and tense.

  • [au]
    Pronunciation: Like the vowel sound in English "house", but more clipped and tense.


German vowels videos


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