Resources for Learning German (Group to Assemble 14 June on Google+ – All are welcome)

Unique Traits of the German Alphabet:

  • More than 26 letters in the alphabet – German has a so called extended latin alphabet
  • The extra letters are ä, ö, ü and ß
  • The pronunciation of some of these letters do not exist in the English language
  • Several letters are pronounced more from the back of the throat: g, ch, r (though in Austria the r is trilled).
  • The W in German sounds like the V in English
  • The V in German sounds like the F in English
  • Most of the time the S in German sounds like Z in English when placed at the beginning of a word followed by a vowel.
  • The letter ß is the only letter that will never be at the beginning of a word.

    Click on the following letters to hear them pronounced. (Audio saved as .wav files.)

    Das Deutsche Alphabet/ The German Alphabet

    Buchstabe/ LetterAussprache des Buchstabenamens/ Pronunciation of letter nameAussprache des Buchstaben – wie in/ Sound of Letter – as inBeispiele/ Examples
    A aahastronautder Adler (eagle), Januar(January)
    B bapproximate: baybabyder Bruder (brother), aber (but)
    C capproximate: tsaycreative, Celcius (soft c sound in German sounds likets)der Chor, der Christkindlmarkt(south German term for der Weihnachtsmarkt/ Christmas market), Celcius
    D dapproximate: daydollarDienstag (Tuesday), oder (or)
    E eapproximate: ayelegantessen (to eat), zuerst (first)
    F feffeffortder Freund (friend), offen (open)
    G gapproximate: gaygorgeousgut (good), gemein (mean)
    H hhaahammerder Hammer, dieMühle (mill)
    I ieehIgorder Igel (porcupine), der Imbiss(snack), sieben (seven)
    J jyotyellowdas Jahr (year), jeder (each)
    K kkahcameldas Kamel, der Kuchen (cake)
    L lelllovedie Leute (people), das Land(land)
    M memmander Mann, die Ameise
    N nennicenicht (not), die Münze (coin)
    O oohovenOstern (Easter),rot (red)
    P papproximate: paypartydie Polizei (police), der Apfel
    Q qkoocoraldas Quadrat (square), die Quelle(source)
    Note: All German words start with qu (kw – sound)
    R rapproximate: errichder Rücken (the back), der Stern(star)
    S seszoo, shine, mousesummen (to hum), schön (pretty, nice), die Maus
    T tapproximate: taytyrantder Tyrannacht (eight)
    U uoohou sound in youdie Universität (university), derMund (mouth)
    V vfowfatherder Vogel (bird), die Nerven(nerves)
    W wapproximate: vayvandie Wange (cheek), das Schwein(pig, wieviel (how much)
    X xixsounds like kzdas Xylofon/ Xylophon, die Hexe(witch)
    Note: There are hardly any German words that start with X
    Y yuep-si-lohnyellowdie Yucca, der Yeti
    Note: There are hardly any German words that start with Y.
    Z ztsetsounds like tsdie Zeitung (newspaper), derZigeuner (gypsy)

    Umlaut + ß

    Aussprache des Buchstaben/ Pronunciation of LetterBeispiele/ Examples
    äsounds similar to the e in melonähnlich (similar), gähnen (to yawn)
    ösounds similar to the i in girlÖsterreich (Austria), der Löwe(lion)
    üno equivalent nor approximate sound in Englishüber (over),müde (tired)
    ß(esszet)double s soundheiß (hot),die Straße (street)
  • Learn more specifics of several German letters and their dipthongs in the following articles:
    Pronunciation Part 2
    Pronunciation Part 3
  • Starting to feel comfortable with German pronunciation? Put your pronunciation to the test with these Zungenbrecher (tongue twisters).
  • More pronunciation practice with these Alphabet Exercises.
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2 Replies to “Resources for Learning German (Group to Assemble 14 June on Google+ – All are welcome)”

  1. Only in some parts of Austria is the R trilled, and also in much of the South of Germany(Bavaria). I’m pretty sure it’s trilled in SalzbuhIn Hochdeutsch (Standard German), the standard greeting is Guten Tag, but in much of Southern Germany and Austria they say Grüß Gott which means God Bless, due to it’s majority Catholic population. Saying Gruess Gott in Koeln for example may give you odd looks at the minimum, or a sharp “Guten Tag!” as a reproof.
    In Tyrol and Steiermark (where the Governator was born) it’s definitely gargled like French, Hebrew and standard German. In both Graz, and Vienna (Wien) since they are big cities, you’ll find every possible combination, but still I’ve heard only Hochdeutsch. States (das Bundesland / die Bundeslander) that border other nations (Italy or Slovenia for example) will usually trill the R.

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