Deutsche Aussprache (German Pronunciation) Guide1

Vowels (in general): A E I O U Y W “Ah” “Eh” or “Ay” (actually sounds like something between the two) “eeeeeee” Say “Oh” and think “Aw” (JUST LIKE LATIN!!) “ooooooo” Exactly like a U with an umlaut (see below) Never a vowel in German - always the same sound as the English “V” Vowels mit Umlauts (those funny dots that look like drunken colons): An umlaut is the equivalent of putting an “e” next to a vowel. In fact, when people didn’t have umlauts on their typewriters (back in the days of the covered wagons), they just typed an “e” instead , like this : ä = ae Tränen (tears) would have been typed: Traenen Umlauts are ONLY used with a, o and u in German (I have no idea what those crazy Norwegians do with them!) An umlaut, as you might imagine, creates a dipthong, altering the sound of the vowel. So, Ä Ö Ü “AY” or “AI” as in “hair” “oo” as in “Look,” or like the French “eu” in “vieux” or the French e in “de” “euoooo” Almost exactly like the French “u” in “tu” – a deliciously dark sound Other vowel combinations: AI “EYE”

(Many thanks to Susan Fedors for her assistance in the preparation of this Guide. For further ideas and comments see this reprinted at at the “miscellany” page.)

g. Always a hard G (NOTE: opposite of Latin!) In fact. or rolled R (this is the preferred method for singing. as in “selig” (“blessed”) which can be pronounced “zay-leek” or “zay-leech” (“soft” ch on the middle of the tongue – see below) Pronounced like the English “Y” Guttural “R” like the French. since the sound isn’t strangled on it’s way out into the world). The vowels give us the open mouths we need to get the sound out. we’ll probably sing it a lot. Or if in a short word.” e. it’s so hard. German differs from English in the following consonant pronunciations: C G No real German words start with C – the ones that do are usually inspired from other languages. Two final notes on vowels: German has the schwa (ə} sound that most of us learned about in school. it is done as the Brits would do . (See “Schwarz” below) At the beginning of the word – always pronounced as an English “Z”. at the END of a word.g. that if it’s at the end of a word. Consonants Most of the German consonants are similar to English. C in German is almost always a soft c – like s. it’s often pronounced as a “K” or it can be pronounced as an “IG” (see below). “Sprache” (Shprach-uh) And since the Germans drop “r”s at the ends of words more than the Brits. This is basically the “uh” sound and it is often at the end of words and is most often an “e. e.AO AU EE EI EU IE “OW” as in “cow” “OW” as in “cow” “AY” – so similar to Ä that it’s not worth mentioning the difference “EYE” “OY” as in “BOY” “EEE” Any other vowel combinations: pronounce them separately – do not blend.and more or less ignored. so they are very important and we should be consistent in singing them properly. pronounced like the English “s” J R S 2 .

like “Ludwigshafen” (tr: Ludwig’s Harbor”) and is pronounced “Loodviks Haffuhn” If you want the English SH sound. Try saying that and stop before you say the “U” sound and you will have it.SS V W Z At the end of a word (see also Final Miscellaneous at end) always pronounced with soft “S” sound Pronounced like the English “F” Pronounced like the English “V” (are we having fun yet?) Pronounced “TS” “Schwarz” (“Black”) is pronounced “Shvahts” (I told you they drop their ‘r’s!) Other miscellany on German consonants SH If you see these letters together in German. It can be pronounced one of two ways. if an O. Final Miscellaneous Information SCH CH German. as any S would. and because its sibilance is somewhat softer. you would say the guttural “ch” – as if one were clearing the back of one’s throat (Ach! – no English equivalent – like a messy “Ock!” Or “Buch” (“book”) (boohch) Or. C rarely. if ever starts a true German word – most likely you will see this letter combination at the end of a word. depending on the vowel that precedes it or the region of the country in which it’s spoken. or a U precede it. it is pronounced in the guttural way. it can be a rather pleasant end to a musical phrase. like the Scottish “Loch Lomond” If an E or an I precede a CH the CH sound is pronounced more softly – from the middle of the tongue. If it is at the beginning of the word (as in the German word for choir (chor)). an O. Now add a sound before it: Ich (I) (“eech”) or Pech (bad luck) (“Peych”) The soft CH at the end of a word most likely will be sung VERY briefly. The old type face of the early 20th century and before has been gone since the late 40s. Try saying the word “Hue” or “Hugh” and the initial “H” sound you make will be that soft CH sound. If an A. has modernized its script. it is NOT to be pronounced as it is in English – most likely they are together because they are in the middle of a compound word. this is the way you do it in German Remember. but a few vestiges did remain for quite some time. so you may see the following in your music: 3 . like some of the European languages.

Dur means “major” and Moll means “minor” 4 . but it is the equivalent of a double S called an “Esszett” (not sure if I spelled it correctly).ß– This may look like a cursive capital B. For example. nouns are always capitalized in German. it’s used in the German word for white “weiß” (weiss) (“Vice”). “H” in German music means B flat. Traditionally.

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