Standard German phonology

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
(Redirected from German phonology)
Jump to: navigation, search

The phonology of Standard German is the standard pronunciation or accent of the German language. It deals with current phonology and phonetics as well as with historical developments thereof as well as the geographical variants and the influence of German dialects.

While the spelling of German is officially standardised by an international organisation (the Council for German Orthography) the pronunciation has no official standard and relies on a de facto standard documented in reference works such as Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch (German Pronunciation Dictionary) by Eva-Maria Krech et al.,[1] Duden 6 Das Aussprachewörterbuch (Duden volume 6, The Pronunciation Dictionary) by Max Mangold and the training materials of radio and television stations such as Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Deutschlandfunk, or Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. This standardised pronunciation was invented, rather than coming from any particular German-speaking city; however, it is closest to the German spoken in Hanover.[citation needed] Standard German is sometimes referred to as Bühnendeutsch (stage German), but the latter has its own definition and is slightly different.[2]


Monophthongs of standard German, from Mangold (2005:37). The nasalized vowels appear only in loanwords.


Monophthong phonemes of Standard German
Front Central Back
unrounded rounded unrounded rounded
short long short long short long short long
Close ɪ ʏ ʊ
Close-mid øː (ə)
Open-mid ɛ ɛː œ (ɐ) ɔ
Open a

Some scholars[3] treat /ə/ as an unstressed allophone of /ɛ/. Likewise, some scholars[3] treat /ɐ/ as an allophone of the unstressed sequence /ər/. The phonemic status of /ɛː/ is also debated - see below.

  • Close vowels
    • /iː/ is close front unrounded [].[4][5][6][7]
    • /yː/ is close near-front rounded [ÿː].[4][5][6][7] Its rounding is compressed.[8]
    • /uː/ is close back rounded [].[4][5][6][7] Its rounding is protruded.[8]
    • /ɪ/ has been variously described as near-close front unrounded [ɪ̟],[6][7] near-close near-front unrounded [ɪ][4] and somewhat lowered near-close near-front unrounded [ɪ̞].[5]
    • /ʏ/ has been variously described as near-close near-front rounded [ʏ][6][7] and somewhat lowered near-close near-front rounded [ʏ̞].[4][5] Its rounding is compressed.[8]
    • /ʊ/ has been variously described as near-close near-back rounded [ʊ][4][5][6] and near-close back rounded [ʊ̠].[7] Its rounding is protruded.[8]
  • Mid vowels
    • /eː/ is close-mid front unrounded [].[4][5][6][7]
      • In non-standard accents of the Low German speaking area, as well as in some Bavarian and Austrian accents it may be pronounced as a narrow closing diphthong [eɪ].
    • /øː/ has been variously described as close-mid near-front rounded [ø̈ː][5][6][7] and mid near-front rounded [ø̽ː].[4] Its rounding is compressed.[8]
      • In non-standard accents of the Low German speaking area, as well as in some Austrian accents it may be pronounced as a narrow closing diphthong [øʏ].
    • /oː/ is close-mid back rounded [].[4][5][6][7] Its rounding is protruded.[8]
      • In non-standard accents of the Low German speaking area, as well as in some Austrian accents it may be pronounced as a narrow closing diphthong [oʊ].
    • /ə/ is mid central unrounded [ə].[4][5][6] It occurs only in unstressed syllables, for instance in besetzen [bəˈzɛt͡sən] ('occupy'). It is often considered a complementary allophone together with [ɛ], which cannot occur in unstressed syllables. If a sonorant follows in the syllable coda, the schwa often disappears so that the sonorant becomes syllabic, for instance Kissen [ˈkɪsn̩] ('pillow'), Esel [ˈʔeːzl̩] ('donkey').
    • /ɛ/ has been variously described as mid near-front unrounded [ɛ̽][5] and open-mid front unrounded [ɛ].[4][6][7]
    • /ɛː/ has been variously described as mid front unrounded [ɛ̝ː][4] and open-mid front unrounded [ɛː].[4][5][7]
    • /œ/ has been variously described as open-mid near-front rounded [œ̈][6][7] and somewhat lowered open-mid near-front rounded [œ̞̈].[4][5] Its rounding is compressed.[8]
    • /ɔ/ has been variously described as open-mid near-back rounded [ɔ̈],[6] somewhat fronted open-mid back rounded [ɔ̟][5] and open-mid back rounded [ɔ].[4][7] Its rounding is protruded.[8]
  • Open vowels
    • /ɐ/ is near-open central unrounded [ɐ].[4][9] It is a common allophone of the sequence /ər/ common to all German-speaking areas but Switzerland.
    • /a/ has been variously described as open front unrounded [a][7][10] and open central unrounded [ä].[4][5][6][11][12] Some scholars[13] differentiate two short /a/, namely front /a/ and back /ɑ/.[14] The latter occurs only in unstressed open syllables, exactly as /i, y, u, e, ø, o/.[15]
      • Front [a] or even [æ] is a common realization of /a/ in northern German varieties influenced by Low German.
    • /aː/ has been variously described as open central unrounded [äː][4][5][6][11][12] and open back unrounded [ɑː].[7][16] Because of this, it is sometimes transcribed /ɑː/.[17]
      • Back [ɑː] (sometimes even rounded [ɒː]) is a common realization of /aː/ in northern German varieties influenced by Low German.
    • Wiese (1996) notes that "there is a tendency to neutralize the distinction between [a(ː)], [aɐ̯], and [ɐ]. That is, Oda, Radar, and Oder have final syllables which are perceptually very similar, and are nearly or completely identical in some dialects."[18] He also says that "outside of a word context, [ɐ] cannot be distinguished from [a].[18]

Although there is also a length contrast, vowels are often analyzed according to a tenseness contrast, with long /iː, yː, uː, eː, øː, oː/ being the tense vowels and short /ɪ, ʏ, ʊ, ɛ, œ, ɔ/ their lax counterparts. Like the English checked vowels, the German lax vowels require a following consonant, with the notable exception of [ɛː] (which is absent in many varieties, as discussed above). /a/ is sometimes considered the lax counterpart of tense /aː/ in order to maintain this tense/lax division. Short /i, y, u, e, ø, o/ occur in unstressed syllables of loanwords, for instance in Psychometrie /psyçomeˈtʁiː/ ('psychometry'). They are usually considered allophones of tense vowels, which cannot occur in unstressed syllables (unless in compounds).

Northern German varieties influenced by Low German could be analyzed as lacking contrasting vowel quantity entirely:

  • /aː/ has a different quality than /a/ (see above)
  • These varieties also consistently lack /ɛː/, and use only /eː/ in its place.

Phonemic status of /ɛː/

The long open-mid front unrounded vowel [ɛː] does not exist in many varieties of Standard German and is rendered as the close-mid front unrounded vowel [], so that both Ähre ('ear of grain') and Ehre ('honor') are pronounced [ˈʔeːʁə] (instead of "Ähre" being [ˈʔɛːʁə]) and both Bären ('bears') and Beeren ('berries') are pronounced [ˈbeːʁən] (instead of "Bären" being [ˈbɛːʁən]). It is debated whether [ɛː] is a distinct phoneme or even exists (except when consciously self-censoring speech),[19] for several reasons:

  • The existence of a phoneme /ɛː/ is an irregularity in a vowel system that otherwise has pairs of long and tense vs. short and lax vowels such as [] vs. [ɔ];
  • The use of [ɛː] in Standard German is more due to hypercorrection and the synthetically created pronunciation traditionally used on stage (Bühnendeutsch) than to a consistent dialectal difference.[19][not in citation given] Although some dialects do have an opposition of [] vs. [ɛː], there is little agreement across dialects as to exactly which lexical items should be pronounced with [] and which with [ɛː];
  • The use of [ɛː] is a spelling pronunciation rather than an original feature of the language.[19] It is an attempt to "speak as is printed" (sprechen wie gedruckt) and to differentiate the spellings ⟨e⟩ and ⟨ä⟩ (that is, users of the language attempt to justify the appearance of ⟨e⟩ and ⟨ä⟩ in writing by making them distinct in the spoken language);
  • Speakers with an otherwise fairly standard idiolect find it rather difficult to utter longer passages with [] and [ɛː] in the right places; such persons apparently have to picture the spellings of the words in question, which impedes the flow of speech.[19][not in citation given]



Diphthongs of standard German, from Mangold (2005:37)
Ending point
Front Back
Open-mid ɔʏ̯
Open aɪ̯ aʊ̯
  • /aɪ̯/ has been variously described as [äɪ],[4][20] [äe̠][21] and [aɛ].[22]
  • /aʊ̯/ has been variously described as [äʊ],[20] [äʊ̞],[4] [äo̟][21] and [aɔ].[23]
  • /ɔʏ̯/ has been variously described as [ɔʏ],[20] [ɔʏ̞],[4] [ɔ̝e̠][21] and [ɔœ].[24]

The process of smoothing is absent from standard German, so the sequences /aɪ̯ə, aʊ̯ə, ɔʏ̯ə/ are never pronounced *[aə̯, aə̯, ɔə̯] or *[aː, aː, ɔː].


Marginally, there are other diphthongs, for instance

The following usually are not counted among the German diphthongs as German speakers often feel they are distinct marks of "foreign words" (Fremdwörter). These appear only in loanwords:

  • [o̯a], as in Croissant [kʁ̥o̯aˈsɑ̃], colloquially: [kʁ̥o̯aˈsaŋ].
  • Wiese (1996) states that many speakers of German will use the expression ok with [ɔʊ̯ˈkɛɪ̯] as a possible pronunciation quite frequently,[25] and that alternatively, [ɔʊ̯] and [ɛɪ̯] can be monophthongized to [oː] and [eː], respectively.[25] However, neither Mangold (2005) nor Krech et al. (2009) recognize these as phonemes. Instead, they prescribe pronunciations with, respectively, /oː/ and /eː/ in each loanword from English containing /oʊ/ and /eɪ/.

In the varieties where speakers vocalize /r/ to [ɐ] in the syllable coda, a diphthong ending in [ɐ̯] may be formed with every vowel except /ə/ and /ɐ/:

German diphthongs ending in [ɐ̯] (part 1), from Kohler (1999:88)
German diphthongs ending in [ɐ̯] (part 2), from Kohler (1999:88)
Diphthong Example
Phonemically Phonetically IPA Orthography Translation
/iːr/ [iːɐ̯]1 [viːɐ̯] wir we
/yːr/ [yːɐ̯]1 [fyːɐ̯] für for
/uːr/ [uːɐ̯]1 [ˈʔuːɐ̯laʊ̯p] Urlaub holiday
/ɪr/ [ɪɐ̯] [vɪɐ̯t] wird he/she/it becomes
/ʏr/ [ʏɐ̯] [ˈvʏɐ̯də] Würde dignity
/ʊr/ [ʊɐ̯] [ˈvʊɐ̯də] wurde I/he/she/it became
/eːr/ [eːɐ̯]1 [meːɐ̯] mehr more
/øːr/ [øːɐ̯]1 [høːɐ̯] hör! (you) hear!
/oːr/ [oːɐ̯]1 [toːɐ̯] Tor gate
/ɛːr/ [ɛːɐ̯]1 [bɛːɐ̯] Bär bear
/ɛr/ [ɛɐ̯] [ʔɛɐ̯ft] Erft Erft
/œr/ [œɐ̯] [dœɐ̯t] dörrt he/she/it dries
/ɔr/ [ɔɐ̯] [ˈnɔɐ̯dn̩] Norden north
/aːr/ [aːɐ̯]1 [vaːɐ̯] wahr true
/ar/ [aɐ̯] [haɐ̯t] hart hard
^1 Wiese (1996) notes that the length contrast is not very stable before non-prevocalic /r/[26] and that "Meinhold & Stock (1980:180), following the pronouncing dictionaries (Mangold (1990), Krech & Stötzer (1982)) judge the vowel in Art, Schwert, Fahrt to be long, while the vowel in Ort, Furcht, hart is supposed to be short. The factual basis of this presumed distinction seems very questionable."[26][27] He goes on stating that in his own dialect, there is no length difference in these words, and that judgements on vowel length in front of non-prevocalic /r/ which is itself vocalized are problematic, in particular if /a/ precedes.[26]
According to the "lengthless" analysis, the aforementioned "long" diphthongs are analyzed as [iɐ̯], [yɐ̯], [uɐ̯], [eɐ̯], [øɐ̯], [oɐ̯], [ɛɐ̯] and [aɐ̯]. This makes non-prevocalic /aːr/ and /ar/ homophonous as [aɐ̯] or [aː]. Non-prevocalic /ɛːr/ and /ɛr/ may also merge, but the vowel chart in Kohler (1999) shows that they have somewhat different starting points - open-mid front [ɛ] for the former, raised open-mid retracted front [ɛ̝̈] for the latter.[9]
Wiese (1996) also states that "laxing of the vowel is predicted to take place in shortened vowels; it does indeed seem to go hand in hand with the vowel shortening in many cases."[26] This leads to [iɐ̯], [yɐ̯], [uɐ̯], [eɐ̯], [øɐ̯], [oɐ̯] being pronounced more similar to [ɪɐ̯], [ʏɐ̯], [ʊɐ̯], [ɛɐ̯], [œɐ̯], [ɔɐ̯].


With approximately 25 phonemes, the German consonant system has an average number of consonants in comparison with other languages. One of the more noteworthy ones is the unusual affricate /p͡f/.[28]

Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar/
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive fortis p t k (ʔ)
lenis b d ɡ
Affricate fortis p͡f t͡s t͡ʃ
lenis d͡ʒ
Fricative sibilant fortis s ʃ
lenis z ʒ
non-sibilant fortis f (θ) ç x h
lenis v (ð) j
Lateral l
Rhotic r
  • /p͡f/ is bilabial–labiodental [p͡f], rather than purely labiodental [p̪͡f].[29]
  • /t, d, l, n/ can be apical alveolar [, , , ],[30][31][32][33] laminal alveolar [, , , ][30][34][35] or laminal denti-alveolar [, , , ].[30][36][37][38] The other possible pronunciation of /d/ that has been reported to occur in unstressed intervocalic positions is retroflex [ɖ].[39] Austrian German often uses the laminal denti-alveolar articulation.
    • /l/ is always clear [l], as in most Irish English accents. A few Austrian accents may use a velarized [ɫ] instead, but that is considered non-standard.
  • /t͡s, s, z/ can be laminal alveolar [t̻͡s̻, , ],[40][41][42] laminal post-dental [t̪͡s̪, , ][40][42] (i.e. fronted alveolar, articulated with the blade of the tongue just behind upper front teeth),[40] or even apical alveolar [t̺͡s̺, , ].[40][41][42] Austrian German often uses the post-dental articulation. /s, z/ are always strongly fricated.[43]
  • /t͡ʃ, d͡ʒ, ʃ, ʒ/ are strongly labialized palato-alveolar sibilants [t͡ʃʷ, d͡ʒʷ, ʃʷ, ʒʷ].[44][45][46] /ʃ, ʒ/ are fricated more weakly than /s, z/.[47] There are two variants of these sounds:
    • Laminal,[44][46] articulated with the foremost part of the blade of the tongue approaching the foremost part of the hard palate, with the tip of the tongue resting behind either upper or lower front teeth.[44]
    • Apico-laminal,[44][45][46] articulated with the tip of the tongue approaching the gums and the foremost part of the blade approaching the foremost part of the hard palate.[44] According to Morciniec & Prędota (2005), this variant is used more frequently.[46]
  • /θ, ð/ are used only in loanwords, mostly from English, such as Thriller /ˈθʁɪlɐ/,[43] though some speakers substitute /θ/ with any of /t, s, f/ and /ð/ with any of /d, z, v/. There are two variants of these sounds:
    • Apical post-dental,[43] articulated with the tip of the tongue approaching the upper incisors.[43]
    • Apical interdental,[43] articulated with the tip of the tongue between the upper and lower incisors.[43]
  • /r/ has a number of possible realizations:
    • Voiced apical coronal trill/tap [, ɾ̺],[48][49][50] either alveolar,[48][49][50] articulated with the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge,[48][49][50] or dental,[48][49] articulated with the tip of the tongue against the back of the upper front teeth.[48][49]
      • Distribution: Common in the south (Bavaria and many parts of Switzerland and Austria), but it is also found in some speakers in central and northern Germany, especially the elderly.
    • Voiced uvular trill [ʀ].[48][49][51][52] According to Lodge (2009) it is often a tap [ʀ̆] intervocalically, as in Ehre.[53]
      • Distribution: Occurs in some conservative varieties - most speakers with a uvular /r/ realize it as a fricative or an approximant.[54]
    • Dorsal continuant, about the quality of which there is not a complete agreement:
    • Near-open central unrounded vowel [ɐ] is a post-vocalic allophone of (mostly dorsal) varieties of /r/. The non-syllabic variant of it is not always near-open or central.[56]
      • Distribution: Widespread, but less common in Switzerland.
  • The voiceless stops /p/, /t/, /k/ are aspirated except when preceded by a sibilant. Many southern dialects do not aspirate /p t k/, and some northern ones do so only in a stressed position. The voiceless affricates /p͡f/, /t͡s/, and /t͡ʃ/ are never aspirated,[60] and neither are any other consonants besides the aforementioned /p, t, k/.[60]
  • The obstruents /b, d, ɡ, z, ʒ, dʒ/ are voiceless lenis [b̥, d̥, ɡ̊, z̥, ʒ̊, d͜ʒ̊] in southern varieties, and they contrast with voiceless fortis [p, t, k, s, ʃ, t͡ʃ].
  • In Austria, intervocalic /b, d, ɡ/ can be lenited to fricatives [β, ð, ɣ] in casual speech.[61]
  • There isn't a complete agreement about the nature of /j/; it has been variously described as a fricative [ʝ],[62][63][64] a fricative, which can be fricated less strongly than /ç/,[65] and an approximant [j].[57]
  • In standard usage and careful speech, [ʔ] occurs before word stems that begin with a vowel. Although not usually considered a phoneme, it may have phonemic value: will ich [vɪl ʔɪç] ('will I') vs. willig [ˈvɪlɪç] ('willing'). In colloquial and dialectal speech, however, /ʔ/ is very often omitted, especially when the word beginning with a vowel is unstressed.
  • The phonemic status of affricates is controversial. The majority view accepts /p͡f/ and /t͡s/, but not /t͡ʃ/ or the non-native /d͡ʒ/; some[66] accept none, some accept all but /d͡ʒ/, and some[67] accept all. [d͡ʒ] and [ʒ] occur only in words of foreign origin. In certain varieties, they are replaced by [t͡ʃ] and [ʃ] altogether.
  • [ʋ] is occasionally considered to be an allophone of /v/, especially in southern varieties of German.
  • [ç] and [x] are traditionally regarded as allophones after front vowels and back vowels, respectively. For a more detailed analysis see below at ich-Laut and ach-Laut. According to some analyses, [χ] is an allophone of /x/ after /a, aː/ and according to some also after /ʊ, ɔ, aʊ̯/.[9]
  • Some phonologists[who?] deny the phoneme /ŋ/ and use /nɡ/ instead along with /nk/ instead of /ŋk/. The phoneme sequence /nɡ/ is realized as [ŋɡ] when /ɡ/ can start a valid onset of the next syllable whose nucleus is a vowel other than unstressed /ə/, /ɪ/, or /ʊ/. It becomes [ŋ] otherwise. For example:
    • Diphthong /ˈdɪftɔnɡ/ [ˈdɪftɔŋ]
    • diphthongieren /dɪftɔnˈɡiːʁən/ [ˌdɪftɔŋˈɡiːʁən]
    • Englisch /ˈɛnɡlɪʃ/ [ˈʔɛŋlɪʃ]
    • Anglo /ˈanɡlo/ [ˈʔaŋɡlo]
    • Ganges /ˈɡanɡəs/ [ˈɡaŋəs] ~ /ˈɡanɡɛs/ [ˈɡaŋɡɛs]

Ich-Laut and ach-Laut

Ich-Laut is the voiceless palatal fricative [ç] (which is found in the word ich [ʔɪç] 'I'), and ach-Laut is the voiceless velar fricative [x] (which is found in the word ach [ax] the interjection 'oh', 'alas'). Note that Laut [laʊ̯t] is the German word for 'sound, phone'. In German, these two sounds are allophones occurring in complementary distribution. The allophone [x] occurs after back vowels and /a aː/ (for instance in Buch [buːx] 'book'), the allophone [ç] after front vowels (for instance in mich [mɪç] 'me/myself') and consonants (for instance in Furcht [fʊʁçt] 'fear', manchmal [ˈmançmaːl] 'sometimes'). (This happens most regularly: if the ⟨r⟩ in Furcht is pronounced as a consonant, ch represents [ç]; however if, as often happens, it is vocalized as [ɐ], resembling the vowel [a], then ⟨ch⟩ may represent [x], yielding [fʊɐ̯xt].)

In loanwords, the pronunciation of potential fricatives in onsets of stressed syllables varies: in the Northern varieties of standard German, it is [ç], while in Southern varieties, it is [k], and in Western varieties, it is [ʃ] (for instance in China: [ˈçiːna] vs. [ˈkiːna] vs. [ˈʃiːna]).

The diminutive suffix -chen is always pronounced with an ich-Laut [-çən].[68] Usually, this ending triggers umlaut (compare for instance Hund [hʊnt] 'dog' to Hündchen [ˈhʏntçn̩] 'little dog'), so theoretically, it could only occur after front vowels. However, in some comparatively recent coinings, there is no longer an umlaut, for instance in the word Frauchen [ˈfʀaʊ̯çən] (a diminutive of Frau 'woman'), so that a back vowel is followed by a [ç], even though normally it would be followed by a [x], as in rauchen [ˈʀaʊ̯xən] ('to smoke'). This exception to the allophonic distribution may be an effect of the morphemic boundary or an example of phonemicization, where erstwhile allophones undergo a split into separate phonemes.

The allophonic distribution of [ç] after front vowels and [x] after other vowels is also found in other languages, such as Scots, in the pronunciation of light. However, it is by no means inevitable: Dutch, Yiddish, and many Southern German dialects retain [x] (which can be realized as [χ] instead) in all positions. It is thus reasonable to assume that Old High German ih, the ancestor of modern ich, was pronounced with [x] rather than [ç]. While it is impossible to know for certain whether Old English words such as niht (modern night) were pronounced with [x] or [ç], [ç] is likely (see Old English phonology).

Despite the phonetic history, the complementary distribution of [ç] and [x] in modern Standard German is better described as backing of /ç/ after a back vowel, rather than fronting of /x/ after a front vowel, because [ç] is used in onsets (Chemie [çeˈmiː] 'chemistry') and after consonants (Molch [mɔlç] 'newt'), and is thus the underlying form of the phoneme. This is an example of assimilation.

According to Kohler,[69] the German ach-Laut is further differentiated into two allophones, [x] and [χ]: [x] occurs after /uː, oː/ (for instance in Buch [buːx] 'book') and [χ] after /a, aː/ (for instance in Bach [baχ] 'brook'), while either [x] or [χ] may occur after /ʊ, ɔ, aʊ̯/, with [χ] predominating.

Fortis–lenis pairs

Various German consonants occur in pairs at the same place of articulation and in the same manner of articulation, namely the pairs /p-b/, /t-d/, /k-ɡ/, /s-z/, /ʃ-ʒ/. These pairs are often called fortis–lenis pairs, since describing them as voiced–voiceless pairs is inadequate. With certain qualifications, /t͡ʃ-d͡ʒ/, /f-v/ are also considered fortis–lenis pairs.

Mangold (2005) states that a fortis-lenis distinction for /ʔ, m, n, ŋ, l, r, h/ is unimportant.[70]

The fortis stops /p, t, k/ are aspirated in many varieties. The aspiration is strongest in the onset of a stressed syllable (such as Taler [ˈtʰaːlɐ] 'thaler'), weaker in the onset of an unstressed syllable (such as Vater [ˈfaːtʰɐ] 'father'), and weakest in the syllable coda (such as in Saat [zaːtʰ] 'seed'). All fortis consonants, i.e. /p, t, k, f, s, ʃ, ç, x, p͡f, t͡s, t͡ʃ, θ/[70] are fully voiceless.[71]

The lenis consonants /b, d, ɡ, v, z, ʒ, j, r, d͡ʒ, ð/[70] range from being weakly voiced to almost voiceless [b̥, d̥, ɡ̊, v̥, z̥, ʒ̊, j̥, r̥, d͜ʒ̊, ð̥] after voiceless consonants:[71] Kasbah [ˈkasb̥a] ('kasbah)', abdanken [ˈʔapd̥aŋkn̩] ('to resign'), rotgelb [ˈʁoːtɡ̊ɛlp] ('red-yellow'), Abwurf [ˈʔapv̥ʊʁf] ('dropping'), Absicht [ˈʔapz̥ɪçt] ('intention'), Holzjalousie [ˈhɔlt͜sʒ̊aluziː] ('wooden jalousie'), wegjagen [ˈvɛkj̥aːɡn̩] ('to chase away'), tropfen [ˈtʁ̥ɔp͡fn̩] ('to drop'), Obstjuice [ˈʔoːpstd͜ʒ̊uːs] ('fruit juice'). Mangold (2005) states that they are "to a large extent voiced" [b, d, g, v, z, ʒ, j, r, d͡ʒ, ð] in all other environments,[70] but some studies have found the stops /b, d, ɡ/ to be voiceless word/utterance-initially in most dialects (while still contrasting with /p, t, k/ due to the aspiration of the latter).[72]

/b, d, ɡ, z, ʒ/ are voiceless in most southern varieties of German. For clarity, they are often transcribed as [b̥, d̥, ɡ̊, z̥, ʒ̊].

The nature of the phonetic difference between the voiceless lenis consonants and the similarly voiceless fortis consonants is controversial. It is generally described as a difference in articulatory force, and occasionally as a difference in articulatory length; for the most part, it is assumed that one of these characteristics implies the other.

In various central and southern varieties, the opposition between fortis and lenis is neutralized in the syllable onset; sometimes just in the onset of stressed syllables, sometimes in all cases.

The pair /f-v/ is not considered a fortis–lenis pair, but a simple voiceless–voiced pair, as /v/ remains voiced in all varieties, including the Southern varieties that devoice the lenes (with however some exceptions).[73] Generally, the southern /v/ is realized as the voiced approximant [ʋ]. However there are southern varieties which differentiate between a fortis /f/ (such as in sträflich [ˈʃtrɛːflɪç] 'culpable' from Middle High German stræflich) and a lenis /f/ ([v̥], such as in höflich [ˈhøːv̥lɪç] 'polite' from Middle High German hovelîch); this is analogous to the opposition of fortis /s/ ([s]) and lenis [z̥].

Coda devoicing

In most varieties of German, the lenis stops /b, d, ɡ/ are unvoiced or at most variably voiced (as stated above). Therefore, it would be inaccurate to say that they devoice at the end of a syllable.[74] It is more accurate to say that the opposition between fortis and lenis is neutralized in the syllable coda. (Truly voiced stops, as implied by the transcription [b, d, ɡ], are found most often in Central German varieties. Some of these even use unaspirated fortis stops [p, t, k] in either all or some environments.)

Fricatives are truly and contrastively voiced by most speakers. Therefore, these do undergo coda devoicing.[74] It is disputed whether coda devoicing is due to a constraint which specifically operates on syllable codas or whether it arises from constraints which "protect voicing in privileged positions."[75] For those southern speakers who do not use voiced fricatives, again there is no devoicing, but rather fortis-lenis neutralization (as with stops).

As against standard pronunciation rules, in western varieties including those of the Rhineland, coda fortis–lenis neutralization results in voicing rather than devoicing if the following word begins with a vowel. For example, mit uns becomes [mɪd‿ʊns] and darf ich becomes [daʁv‿ɪç]. The same sandhi phenomenon exists also as a general rule in the Luxembourgish language.[76]

In a few southern varieties of German, such as Swiss German, neither coda devoicing nor coda fortis-lenis neutralization occurs.


Stress in German usually falls on the first syllable, with the following exceptions:

  • Many loanwords, especially proper names, keep their original stress. E.g. Obama /oˈbaː.ma/
  • Nouns formed with Latinate suffixes, such as -ant, -anz, -enz, -ion, -ismus, -ist, -ment, -tät: Idealismus /ide.aˈlɪsmʊs/ ('idealism'), Konsonant /kɔnzoˈnant/ ('consonant'), Tourist /tuˈʁɪst/ ('tourist')
  • Verbs formed with the Latinate suffix -ieren, e.g. studieren /ʃtuˈdiːʁən/ ('to study'). This is often pronounced /iːɐ̯n/ in casual speech.
  • Compound adverbs, with her, hin, da, or wo as their first syllable part, receive stress on their second syllable, e.g. dagegen /daˈɡeːɡən/ ('on the other hand'), woher /voˈheːɐ̯/ ('from where')

Moreover, German makes a distinction in stress between separable prefixes (stress on prefix) and inseparable prefixes (stress on root) in verbs and words derived from such verbs. Therefore:

  • Words beginning with be-, ge-, er-, ver-, zer-, ent-, emp- and a few others receive stress on the second syllable.
  • Words having ab-, auf-, ein-, vor- as verb prefix, and most other prepositional adverbs receive stress on their first syllable.
  • Some prefixes, notably über-, unter-, um-, and durch-, can function as separable or inseparable prefixes, and are stressed and unstressed accordingly.
  • Rarely, two homographs with such prefixes are formed. They are not strictly homophones. Consider the word, umschreiben. As um•schreiben (separable prefix), it means 'to rewrite', and is pronounced [ˈʔʊmʃʀaɪ̯bən], and its associated noun, die Umschreibung also receives stress on the first syllable - [ˈʔʊmʃʀaɪ̯bʊŋ]. On the other hand, umschreiben (inseparable prefix) is pronounced [ʔʊmˈʃʀaɪ̯bən]. This word means 'to circumscribe', and its associated noun, die Umschreibung ('circumscription') also receives stress on the second syllable - [ʔʊmˈʃʀaɪ̯bʊŋ]. Another example is the word umfahren; with stress on the root ([ʔʊmˈfaːʀən]) it means 'to drive around (an obstacle in the street)', and with stress on the prefix ([ˈʔʊmfaːʀən]) it means 'to drive over' or 'to collide with (an object on the street).'



Like all infants, German infants go through a babbling stage in the early phases of phonological acquisition, during which they produce the sounds they will later use in their first words.[77] Phoneme inventories begin with stops, nasals, and vowels; (contrasting) short vowels and liquids appear next, followed by fricatives and affricates, and finally all other consonants and consonant clusters.[78] Children begin to produce protowords near the end of their first year. These words do not approximate adult forms, yet have a specific and consistent meaning.[77] Early word productions are phonetically simple and usually follow the syllable structure CV or CVC, although this generalization has been challenged.[79] The first vowels produced are /ə/, /a/, and /aː/, followed by /e/, /i/, and /ɛ/, with rounded vowels emerging last.[78] German children often use phonological processes to simplify their early word production.[78] For example, they may delete an unstressed syllable (Schokolade ‘chocolate’ pronounced [ˈlaːdə]),[78] or replace a fricative with a corresponding stop (Dach [dax] ‘roof’ pronounced [dak]).[80] One case study found that a 17-month-old child acquiring German replaced the voiceless velar fricative [x] with the nearest available continuant [h], or deleted it altogether (Buch [buːx] ‘book’ pronounced [buh] or [buː]).[81]

Vowel space development

In 2009, Lintfert examined the development of vowel space of German speakers in their first three years of life. During the babbling stage, vowel distribution has no clear pattern. However, stressed and unstressed vowels already show different distributions in the vowel space. Once word production begins, stressed vowels expand in the vowel space, while the F1-F2 vowel space of unstressed vowels becomes more centralized. The majority of infants are then capable of stable production of F1.[82] It should be noted that the variability of formant frequencies among individuals decreases with age.[83] After 24 months, infants expand their vowel space individually at different rates. However, if the parents' utterances possess a well-defined vowel space, their children produce clearly distinguished vowel classes earlier.[84] By about three years old, children command the production of all vowels, and they attempt to produce the four cardinal vowels, /y/, /i/, /u/ and /a/, at the extreme limits of the F1-F2 vowel space (i.e., the height and backness of the vowels are made extreme by the infants).[83]

Grammatical words

Generally, closed-class grammatical words (e.g. articles and prepositions) are absent from children's speech when they first begin to combine words.[85] However, children as young as 18 months old show knowledge of these closed-class words when they prefer stories with them, compared to passages with them omitted. Therefore, the absence of these grammatical words cannot be due to perceptual problems.[86] Researchers tested children's comprehension of four grammatical words: bis [bɪs] ('up to'), von [fɔn] ('from'), das [das] ('the' neuter singular), and sein [zaɪ̯n] ('his'). After first being familiarized with the words, eight-month-old children looked longer in the direction of a speaker playing a text passage that contained these previously heard words.[87] However, this ability is absent in six-month-olds.[88]


The acquisition of nasals in German differs from that of Dutch, a phonologically closely related language.[89] German children produce proportionately more nasals in onset position (sounds before a vowel in a syllable) than Dutch children do.[90] German children, once they reached 16 months old, also produced significantly more nasals in syllables containing schwas, when compared with Dutch-speaking children.[91] This may reflect differences in the languages the children are being exposed to, although the researchers claim that the development of nasals likely cannot be seen apart from the more general phonological system the child is developing.[92]

Phonotactic constraints and reading

A 2006 study examined the acquisition of German in phonologically delayed children (specifically, issues with fronting of velars and stopping of fricatives) and whether they applied phonotactic constraints to word-initial consonant clusters containing these modified consonants.[93] In many cases, the subjects (mean age = 5;1) avoided making phonotactic violations, opting instead for other consonants or clusters in their speech. This suggests that phonotactic constraints do apply to the speech of German children with phonological delay, at least in the case of word-initial consonant clusters.[94] Additional research[95] has also shown that spelling consistencies seen in German raise children's phonemic awareness as they acquire reading skills.

Sound changes

Sound changes and mergers

A merger found mostly in Northern accents of German is that of /ɛː/ (spelled ⟨ä, äh⟩) with /eː/ (spelled ⟨e⟩, ⟨ee⟩, or ⟨eh⟩). Some speakers merge the two everywhere, some distinguish them everywhere, others keep /ɛː/ distinct only in conditional forms of strong verbs (for example ich gäbe [ˈɡɛːbə] 'I would give' vs. ich gebe [ˈɡeːbə] 'I give' are distinguished, but Bären [ˈbeːʁən] 'bears' vs. Beeren [ˈbeːʁən] 'berries' are not. Standard pronunciation of Bären is [ˈbɛːʁən]).

Another common merger is that of /ɡ/ at the end of a syllable with /ç/ or respectively /x/, for instance Krieg [kʁ̥iːç] ('war'), but Kriege [ˈkʁ̥iːɡə] ('wars'); er lag [laːx] ('he lay'), but wir lagen [ˈlaːɡən] ('we lay'). This pronunciation is frequent all over central and northern Germany. It is characteristic of regional languages and dialects, particularly Low German in the North, where ‹g› represents a fricative, becoming voiceless in the syllable coda, as is common in German (final-obstruent devoicing). However common it is, this pronunciation is considered sub-standard. Only in one case, in the grammatical ending -ig (which corresponds to English -y), the fricative pronunciation of final ‹g› is prescribed by the Siebs standard, for instance wichtig [ˈvɪçtɪç] ('important'). The merger occurs neither in Austro-Bavarian and Alemannic German nor in the corresponding varieties of Standard German, and therefore in these regions -ig is pronounced [ɪɡ̊].

Many speakers do not distinguish the affricate /pf/ from the simple fricative /f/ in the beginning of a word. The verb (er) fährt ('[he] travels') and the noun Pferd ('horse') are then equally pronounced [fɛɐ̯t]. This occurs especially in regions where /p͡f/ did not originally occur in the local dialects, i.e. northern and western Germany. Some speakers also have peculiar pronunciation for /p͡f/ in the middle or end of a word, replacing the [f] in /p͡f/ with a voiceless bilabial fricative, i.e. a consonant produced by pressing air flow through the tensed lips. Thereby Tropfen ('drop') becomes [ˈtʁ̥ɔp͡ɸn̩], rather than [ˈtʁ̥ɔpf͡n̩].

Many speakers (especially in the North) who have a vocalization of [ʁ] after [a], merge this combination with long [aː] (i.e. [aʁ] > [aɐ] > [aː] or [äː]). Hereby, Schaf ('sheep') and scharf ('sharp') can both be pronounced [ʃaːf]. This merger does not occur where /aː/ is realised as a back vowel, thus keeping the words distinct as [ʃɑːf] and [ʃaːf]. However, in both Bavarian and Franconian dialects, the latter would always be pronounced [ʃarf] with a distinct [r] sound. Furthermore, in umlaut forms, the difference usually reoccurs: Schäfer [ˈʃɛːfɐ] vs. schärfer [ˈʃɛɐ̯fɐ]. Speakers with this merger also often use [aːç] (instead of formally normal [aːx]) where it stems from original [aʁç]. The word Archen ('arks') is thus pronounced [ˈʔaːçn̩], which makes a minimal pair with Aachen [ʔaːxn̩], making the difference between [ç] and [x] phonemic, rather than just allophonic, for these speakers.

In the standard pronunciation, the vowel qualities /i/, /ɪ/, /e/, /ɛ/, as well as /u/, /ʊ/, /o/, /ɔ/, are all still distinguished even in unstressed syllables. In this latter case, however, many simplify the system in various degrees. For some speakers, this may go so far as to merge all four into one, whence misspellings by schoolchildren such as Bräutegam (instead of Bräutigam) or Portogal (instead of Portugal).

In everyday speech, more mergers occur, some of which are universal and some of which are typical for certain regions or dialect backgrounds. Overall, there is a strong tendency of reduction and contraction. For example, long vowels may be shortened, consonant clusters may be simplified, word-final [ə] may be dropped in some cases, and the suffix -en may be contracted with preceding consonants, e.g. [ham] for haben [ˈhaːbən] ('to have').

When stops occur between two nasals (one being syllabic), they may be replaced by a glottal stop though they still determine the nature of the nasal. Thus, Lampen ('lamps') changes from [ˈlampən] to [ˈlamʔm̩]; speakers are often unaware of this.

If the clusters [mp], [lt], [nt], or [ŋk] are followed by another consonant, the stops /p/, /t/ and /k/ usually lose their phonemic status. Thus while the standard pronunciation distinguishes ganz [ɡant͡s] ('whole') from Gans [ɡans], as well as er sinkt [zɪŋkt] from er singt [zɪŋt], the two pairs are homophones for most speakers. The commonest practice is to drop the stop (thus [ɡans], [zɪŋt] for both words), but some speakers insert the stop where it is not etymological ([ɡants], [zɪŋkt] for both words), or they alternate between the two ways. Only few speakers retain a phonemic distinction.

Middle High German

The Middle High German vowels [ei̯] and [iː] developed into the modern Standard German diphthong [aɪ̯], whereas [ou̯] and [uː] developed into [aʊ̯]. For example, Middle High German heiz /hei̯t͡s/ and wîz /wiːt͡s/ ('hot' and 'white') became Standard German heiß /haɪ̯s/ and weiß /vaɪ̯s/. In other dialects, the Middle High German vowels developed differently: Bavarian hoaß /hɔɐ̯s/ and weiß /vaɪ̯s/, Ripuarian heeß /heːs/ and wieß /viːs/, Swiss German heiss /hei̯s/ and wiiss /viːs/, Yiddish הײס heys /hɛɪ̯s/ and װײַס vays /vaɪ̯s/.

The Middle High German diphthongs [iə̯], [uə̯] and [yə̯] became the modern Standard German long vowels [iː], [uː] and [yː] after the Middle High German long vowels changed to diphthongs. In most Upper German dialects, the diphthongs are retained. A remnant of their former diphthong character is shown when [iː] continues to be written ie in German (as in Liebe 'love').


German incorporates a significant number of loanwords from other languages. Loanwords are often adapted to German phonology but to varying degrees, depending on the speaker and the commonness of the word. /ʒ/ and /d͡ʒ/ do not occur in native German words but are common in a number of French and English loan words. Many speakers replace them with /ʃ/ and /t͡ʃ/ respectively (especially in Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland), so that Dschungel (from English jungle) can be pronounced [ˈd͡ʒʊŋl̩] or [ˈt͡ʃʊŋl̩]. Some speakers in Northern and Western Germany merge /ʒ/ with /d͡ʒ/, so that Journalist (phonemically /d͡ʒʊʁnaˈlɪst ~ ʒʊʁnaˈlɪst/) can be pronounced [ʒʊɐ̯naˈlɪst], [d͡ʒʊɐ̯naˈlɪst] or [ʃʊɐ̯naˈlɪst]. The realization of /ʒ/ as [t͡ʃ], however, is uncommon.[96]

Loanwords from English

Many English words are used in German, especially in technology and pop culture. Some speakers pronounce them similarly to their native pronunciation, but many speakers change non-native phonemes to similar German phonemes:

  • English /θ, ð/ are usually pronounced as in RP or General American; some speakers replace them with /s/ and /z/ respectively (th-alveolarization) e.g. Thriller [ˈθʁɪlɐ ~ ˈsʁɪlɐ].
  • English /ɹ/ can be pronounced the same as in English, i.e. [ɹ], or as the corresponding native German /r/ e.g. Rock [ʀɔk] or [rɔk]. German and Austrian speakers tend to be variably rhotic.
  • English /w/ is often replaced with German /v/ e.g. Whiskey [ˈvɪskiː].
  • word-initial /s/ is often retained (especially in the South, where word-initial /s/ is common),[97] but many speakers replace it with /z/ e.g. Sound [zaʊ̯nt].
  • word-initial /st/ and /sp/ are usually retained, but some speakers (especially in South Western Germany and Western Austria) replace them with /ʃt/ and respectively /ʃp/ e.g. Steak [ʃteɪk] or [ʃteːk], Spray [ʃpʁeɪ] or [ʃpʁeː].[98]
  • English /t͡ʃ/ is usually retained, but in Northern and Western Germany, as well as Luxembourg it is often replaced with /ʃ/ e.g. Chips [ʃɪps].[99]
  • In German Standard German, final-obstruent devoicing is applied to English loan words just as to other words e.g. Airbag [ˈɛːɐ̯bɛk], Lord [lɔʁt] or [lɔɐ̯t], Backstage [ˈbɛksteːt͡ʃ]. However, in Swiss Standard German and Austrian Standard German, final-obstruent devoicing does not occur and so speakers are more likely to retain the correct pronunciation of word-final lenes (although realizing them as fortes may occur because of confusing English spelling with pronunciation).
  • English /eɪ/ and /oʊ/ are often replaced with /eː/ and /oː/ respectively e.g. Homepage [ˈhoːmpeːt͡ʃ].
  • English /æ/ and /ɛ/ are pronounced the same, as German /ɛ/ (met–mat merger) e.g. Backup [ˈbɛkap].
  • English /ɒ/ and /ɔː/ are pronounced the same, as German /ɔ/ (cot–caught merger) e.g. Box [bɔks].
  • English /ʌ/ is usually pronounced as German /a/ e.g. Cutter [ˈkatɐ].
  • English /ɜr/ is usually pronounced as German /œʁ/ e.g. Shirt [ʃœʁt] or [ʃœɐ̯t].
  • English /i/ is pronounced as German /iː/ (happy-tensing) e.g. Whiskey [ˈvɪskiː].


The sample text is a reading of The North Wind and the Sun. The phonemic transcription treats every instance of [ɐ] and [ɐ̯] as /ər/ and /r/, respectively. The phonetic transcription is a fairly narrow transcription of the educated northern accent. The speaker transcribed in the narrow transcription is 62 years old, and he is reading in a colloquial style.[57] Aspiration, glottal stops and devoicing of the lenes after fortes are not transcribed.

Note that the audio file was recorded by a much younger speaker.

Phonemic transcription

/aɪ̯nst ˈʃtrɪtən zɪç ˈnɔrtvɪnt ʊnt ˈzɔnə | veːr fɔn iːnən ˈbaɪ̯dən voːl deːr ˈʃtɛrkərə vɛːrə | als aɪ̯n ˈvandərər | deːr ɪn aɪ̯nən ˈvarmən ˈmantəl ɡəˌhʏlt var | dɛs ˈveːɡəs daˈheːrkaːm || ziː vʊrdən ˈaɪ̯nɪç | das ˈdeːrˌjeːnɪɡə fyːr deːn ˈʃtɛrkərən ˌɡɛltən zɔltə | deːr deːn ˈvandərər ˈt͡svɪŋən vʏrdə | zaɪ̯nən ˈmantəl ˈapt͡suːˌneːmən || deːr ˈnɔrtvɪnt bliːs mɪt ˈalər ˈmaxt | aːbər jeː ˈmeːr eːr ˈbliːs | dɛstoː ˈfɛstər ˈhʏltə zɪç deːr ˈvandərər ɪn zaɪ̯nən ˈmantəl aɪ̯n || ˈɛntlɪç ɡaːp deːr ˈnɔrtvɪnt deːn ˈkamp͡f ˈaʊ̯f || nuːn ɛrˈvɛrmtə diː ˈzɔnə diː ˈlʊft mɪt iːrən ˈfrɔʏ̯ntlɪçən ˈʃtraːlən | ʊnt ˈʃoːnax ˈveːnɪɡən ˈaʊ̯ɡənˌblɪkən t͡soːk deːr ˈvandərər zaɪ̯nən ˈmantəl aʊ̯s || da mʊstə deːr ˈnɔrtvɪnt ˈt͡suːɡeːbən | das diː ˈzɔnə fɔn iːnən baɪ̯dən deːr ˈʃtɛrkərə var/[100]

Phonetic transcription

[aɪ̯ns ˈʃtʁɪtn̩ zɪç ˈnɔɐ̯tvɪnt ʊn ˈzɔnə | veːɐ̯ fən iːm ˈbaɪ̯dn̩ voːl dɐ ˈʃtɛɐ̯kəʁə veːʁə | als aɪ̯n ˈvandəʁɐ | dɛɐ̯ ɪn aɪ̯n ˈvaɐ̯m ˈmantl̩ ɡəˌhʏlt vaɐ̯ | dəs ˈveːɡəs daˈheːɐ̯kaːm || zɪ vʊɐ̯dn̩ ˈaɪ̯nɪç | das ˈdeːɐ̯ˌjeːnɪɡə fʏɐ̯ dən ˈʃtɛɐ̯kəʁən ˌɡɛltn̩ zɔltə | dɛɐ̯ dən ˈvandəʁɐ ˈt͡svɪŋː vʏɐ̯də | zaɪ̯m ˈmantl̩ ˈapt͡suːˌneːmː || dɛɐ̯ ˈnɔɐ̯tvɪm ˈbliːs mɪt ˈalɐ ˈmaχt | abɐ jeː ˈmeːɐ̯ ɛɐ̯ ˈbliːs | dɛstoː ˈfɛstɐ ˈhʏltə zɪç dɐ ˈvandəʁɐ ɪn zaɪ̯m ˈmantl̩ aɪ̯n || ˈɛntlɪç ɡaːp dɐ ˈnɔɐ̯tvɪn dəŋ ˈkamp͡f ˈaʊ̯f || nuːn ɛɐ̯ˈvɛɐ̯mtə dɪ ˈzɔnə dɪ ˈlʊfp mɪt iːɐ̯n ˈfʁɔʏ̯ntlɪçn̩ ˈʃtʁaːln | ʊn ˈʃoːnaχ ˈveːnɪɡŋ̍ ˈaʊ̯ɡŋ̍ˌblɪkŋ̍ t͡soːk dɐ ˈvandəʁɐ zaɪ̯m ˈmantl̩ aʊ̯s || da mʊstə dɐ ˈnɔɐ̯tvɪn ˈt͡suːɡeːbm̩ | das dɪ ˈzɔnə fən iːm baɪ̯dn̩ dɐ ˈʃtɛɐ̯kəʁə vaɐ̯][101]

Orthographic version

Einst stritten sich Nordwind und Sonne, wer von ihnen beiden wohl der Stärkere wäre, als ein Wanderer, der in einen warmen Mantel gehüllt war, des Weges daherkam. Sie wurden einig, dass derjenige für den Stärkeren gelten sollte, der den Wanderer zwingen würde, seinen Mantel abzunehmen. Der Nordwind blies mit aller Macht, aber je mehr er blies, desto fester hüllte sich der Wanderer in seinen Mantel ein. Endlich gab der Nordwind den Kampf auf. Nun erwärmte die Sonne die Luft mit ihren freundlichen Strahlen, und schon nach wenigen Augenblicken zog der Wanderer seinen Mantel aus. Da musste der Nordwind zugeben, dass die Sonne von ihnen beiden der Stärkere war.[102]

See also


  1. Pages 1-2 of the book (Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch) discuss "die Standardaussprache, die Gegenstand dieses Wörterbuches ist" (the standard pronunciation which is the topic of this dictionary). It also mentions "Da sich das Deutsche zu einer plurizentrischen Sprache entwickelt hat, bildeten sich jeweils eigene Standardvarietäten (und damit Standardaussprachen)" (German has developed into a pluricentric language separate standard varieties (and hence standard pronunciations)), but refers to these standards as "regionale und soziolektale Varianten" (regional and sociolectal variants).
  2. Differences include the pronunciation of the endings -er, -en, and -em.
  3. 3.0 3.1 See the discussion in Wiese (1996:16–17)
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 See the vowel charts in Mangold (2005:37).
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 Kohler (1999:87)
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 Lodge (2009:87)
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 Morciniec & Prędota (2005:89)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Catford (1982:172)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Kohler (1999:88)
  10. Wierzbicka & Rynkowska (1992:413)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Wiese (1996:8)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Krech et al. (2009:24)
  13. E.g. Wierzbicka & Rynkowska (1992)
  14. Wierzbicka & Rynkowska (1992:412). Note that authors state that /ɑ/ can be realized as Polish /a/, i.e. central [ä].
  15. Wierzbicka & Rynkowska (1992:412–415)
  16. Wierzbicka & Rynkowska (1992:412)
  17. E.g. by Lodge (2009:86–89) (without length marks, i.e. as /ɑ/ - note that the vowel chart on page 87 places /a/ and /ɑ/ in the same open central position [ä]!), Morciniec & Prędota (2005) (without length marks, i.e. as /ɑ/) and Wierzbicka & Rynkowska (1992).
  18. 18.0 18.1 Wiese (1996:254)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 von Polenz (2000:151, 175)
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Source: Wiese (1996:11 and 14). On the page 14, the author states that /aɪ̯/, /aʊ̯/ and /ɔʏ̯/ are of the same quality as vowels of which they consist. On the page 8, he states that /a/ is low central.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 See vowel chart in Kohler (1999:87). Note that despite their true ending points, Kohler still transcribes them as /aɪ̯ aʊ̯ ɔɪ̯/, i.e. with higher offsets than those actually have.
  22. Source: Krech et al. (2009:72). Authors do not provide a vowel chart. Rather, they state rather vaguely that "the diphthong [aɛ̯] is a monosyllabic compound consisting of the unrounded open vowel [a] and the unrounded mid front vowel [ɛ]."
  23. Source: Krech et al. (2009:72–73). Authors do not provide a vowel chart. Rather, they state rather vaguely that "the diphthong [aɔ̯] is a monosyllabic compound consisting of the unrounded open vowel [a] and the rounded mid back vowel [ɔ]."
  24. Krech et al. (2009:73). Authors do not provide a vowel chart. Rather, they state rather vaguely that "the diphthong [ɔœ̯] is a monosyllabic compound consisting of the rounded mid back vowel [ɔ] and the rounded mid front vowel [œ]."
  25. 25.0 25.1 Wiese (1996:12)
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Wiese (1996:198)
  27. Also supported by Tröster-Mutz (2011:20).
  28. For a detailed discussion of the German consonants from a synchronic and diachronic point of view, see Cercignani (1979).
  29. Mangold (2005:45)
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Mangold (2005:47 and 49)
  31. Krech et al. (2009:94 and 96). According to this source, only /l, n/ can be apical alveolar.
  32. Morciniec & Prędota (2005:51–52 and 84). According to this source, only /t, n/ can be apical alveolar.
  33. See the x-ray tracing of /l/ in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:184), based on data from Wängler (1961).
  34. Krech et al. (2009:90, 94 and 96)
  35. Morciniec & Prędota (2005:51–52 and 84). According to this source, only /t, n/ can be laminal alveolar.
  36. Krech et al. (2009:90). According to this source, only /t, d/ can be laminal denti-alveolar.
  37. Morciniec & Prędota (2005:51–52, 59, 78 and 84)
  38. See the x-ray tracing of /t/ in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:184), based on data from Wängler (1961).
  39. Hamann & Fuchs (2010:14–24)
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 Mangold (2005:50 and 52)
  41. 41.0 41.1 Krech et al. (2009:79–80). This source talks only about /s, z/.
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 Morciniec & Prędota (2005:65 and 75) This source talks only about /s, z/.
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 43.4 43.5 Mangold (2005:50)
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 44.4 Mangold (2005:51–52)
  45. 45.0 45.1 Krech et al. (2009:51–52)
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 Morciniec & Prędota (2005:67 and 76)
  47. Mangold (2005:51)
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 48.3 48.4 48.5 48.6 Mangold (2005:53)
  49. 49.0 49.1 49.2 49.3 49.4 49.5 Krech et al. (2009:86)
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 Morciniec & Prędota (2005:79)
  51. Morciniec & Prędota (2005:80)
  52. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:225 and 229)
  53. Lodge (2009:46)
  54. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:225)
  55. Krech et al. (2009:74 and 85)
  56. 56.0 56.1 Morciniec & Prędota (2005:81)
  57. 57.0 57.1 57.2 Kohler (1999:86)
  58. Kohler (1999:86–87)
  59. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:225 and 233–234)
  60. 60.0 60.1 Mangold (2005:52)
  61. Moosmüller (2007:6)
  62. Krech et al. (2009:83–84)
  63. Morciniec & Prędota (2005:77–78). The authors transcribe it /j/, i.e. as an approximant.
  64. Wiese (1996:12). The author transcribes it /j/, i.e. as an approximant.
  65. Mangold (2005:51). The author transcribes it /j/, i.e. as an approximant.
  66. e.g. Kohler (1990)
  67. e.g. Wiese (1996)
  68. Wiese (1996:217)
  69. Kohler (1977) and Kohler (1990), as cited in Wiese (1996:210)
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 70.3 Mangold (2005:56)
  71. 71.0 71.1 Mangold (2005:55)
  72. Jessen & Ringen (2002:190)
  73. [v] written v[clarify] can devoice in nearly every place once the word has become common; w is devoiced in Möwe, Löwe. On the other hand, the keeping to the variety is so standard that doof /do:f/ induced the writing "(der) doofe" even though the standard pronunciation of the latter word is /ˈdoːvə/
  74. 74.0 74.1 Beckman, Jessen & Ringen (2009:233)
  75. Beckman, Jessen & Ringen (2009:264–265)
  76. "Lautstruktur des Luxemburgischen - Wortübergreifende Phänomene". Retrieved 2013-05-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  77. 77.0 77.1 Meibauer et al. (2007:261)
  78. 78.0 78.1 78.2 78.3 Meibauer et al. (2007:263)
  79. Grijzenhout & Joppen (1998:1)
  80. Meibauer et al. (2007:264)
  81. Grijzenhout & Joppen (1998:12)
  82. Lintfert (2010:159)
  83. 83.0 83.1 Lintfert (2010:138)
  84. Lintfert (2010:160)
  85. Höhle & Weissenborn (2003:122)
  86. Höhle & Weissenborn (2003:123)
  87. Höhle & Weissenborn (2003:125)
  88. Höhle & Weissenborn (2003:126)
  89. Altvater-Mackensen & Fikkert (2007:14)
  90. Altvater-Mackensen & Fikkert (2007:16)
  91. Altvater-Mackensen & Fikkert (2007:19)
  92. Altvater-Mackensen & Fikkert (2007:23)
  93. Ott, van de Vijner & Höhle (2006:323)
  94. Ott, van de Vijner & Höhle (2006:331)
  95. Goswami, Ziegler & Richardson (2005:362)
  100. In Standard Swiss German, sich, Nordwind, und, endlich, gab, einig, freundlichen and zog are pronounced /zɪx/, /ˈnɔrdvɪnd/, /ʊnd/, /ˈɛndlɪx/, /ɡaːb/, /ˈaɪ̯nɪɡ/, /ˈfrɔʏ̯ndlɪxən/ and /t͡soːɡ/, respectively. In Standard Austrian German, Nordwind, und, endlich, gab, einig, freundlichen and zog are pronounced /ˈnɔrdvɪnd/, /ʊnd/, /ˈɛndlɪç/, /ɡaːb/, /ˈaɪ̯nɪɡ/, /ˈfrɔʏ̯ndlɪçən/ and /t͡soːɡ/, respectively.
  101. Source: Kohler (1999:88). Note that in the original transcription the vowel length is not indicated, apart from where it is phonemic - that is, for the pairs /a/ - /aː/ and /ɛ/ - /ɛː/.
  102. Kohler (1999:89)


  • Altvater-Mackensen, N.; Fikkert, P. (2007), "On the acquisition of nasals in Dutch and German", Linguistics in the Netherlands, 24: 14–24, doi:10.1075/avt.24.04alt<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Beckman, Jill; Jessen, Michael; Ringen, Catherine (2009), "German fricatives: coda devoicing or positional faithfulness?" (PDF), Phonology, Cambridge University Press, 26 (2): 231–268, doi:10.1017/S0952675709990121<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Catford, John Cunnison (1982), Fundamental Problems in Phonetics, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0253202949<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Cercignani, Fausto (1979), The Consonants of German: Synchrony and Diachrony, Milano: Cisalpino<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Goswami, U.; Ziegler, J.; Richardson, U. (2005), "The effects of spelling consistency on phonological awareness: A comparison of English and German", Journal Of Experimental Child Psychology, 92: 345–365, doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2005.06.002<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Grijzenhout, J.; Joppen, S. (1998), First Steps in the Acquisition of German Phonology: A Case Study (PDF)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hamann, Silke; Fuchs, Susanne (2010), Retroflexion of voiced stops: data from Dhao, Thulung, Afar and German (PDF)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Höhle, Barbara; Weissenborn, Jürgen (2003), "German–learning infants' ability to detect unstressed closed–class elements in continuous speech", Developmental Science, 6: 122–127, doi:10.1111/1467-7687.00261<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Jessen, Michael; Ringen, Catherine (2002), "Laryngeal features in German" (PDF), Phonology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 19 (2): 189–221, doi:10.1017/S0952675702004311<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kohler, Klaus J. (1977), Einführung in die Phonetik des Deutschen, Berlin: E. Schmidt<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kohler, Klaus J. (1990), "German", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 20 (1): 48–50, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004084<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kohler, Klaus J. (1999), "German", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet [With accompanying German audio files by the author], Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 86–89, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Krech, Eva Maria; Stötzer, Ursula (1982), Großes Wörterbuch der deutschen Aussprache, Leipzig: VEB Bibhographisches Institut, ISBN 978-3323001404<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Krech, Eva Maria; Stock, Eberhard; Hirschfeld, Ursula; Anders, Lutz-Christian (2009), Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch, Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-018202-6<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lintfert, Britta (2010), Phonetic and phonological development of stress in German (Doctoral thesis, Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany), pp. 138–160<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • LEO Dictionary Team (2006), LEO Online Dictionary, Faculty of Computer Sciences, Technische Universität München, retrieved February 29, 2012<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lodge, Ken (2009), A Critical Introduction to Phonetics, ISBN 978-0-8264-8873-2<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mangold, Max (1990). Das Aussprachewörterbuch (in German) (3rd ed.). Dudenverlag. ISBN 3-411-20916-X.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mangold, Max (2005), Das Aussprachewörterbuch (6th ed.), Duden, ISBN 978-3411040667<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Meibauer, Jörg; Demske, Ulrike; Geilfuß-Wolfgang, Jochen; Pafel, Jürgen; Ramers, Karl-Heinz; Rothweiler, Monika; Steinbach, Markus (2007), Einführung in die germanistische Linguistik (2nd ed.), Stuttgart: Verlag J.B Metzler, ISBN 978-3476021410<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Meinhold, Gottfried; Stock, Eberhard (1980), Phonologie der deutschen Gegenwartssprache, Lepzig: VEB Bibliographisches Institut<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Moosmüller, Sylvia (2007), Vowels in Standard Austrian German: An Acoustic-Phonetic and Phonological Analysis (PDF), retrieved March 21, 2013<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Morciniec, Norbert; Prędota, Stanisław (2005), Podręcznik wymowy niemieckiej, Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, ISBN 83-01-14503-X<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ott, Susan; van de Vijner, Ruben; Höhle, Barbara (2006), "The effect of phonotactic constraints in German-speaking children with delayed phonological acquisition: Evidence from production of word-initial consonant clusters" (PDF), Advances In Speech Language Pathology, 4, 8: 323–334, doi:10.1080/14417040600970622<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Siebs, Theodor (1898), Deutsche Bühnensprache, Cologne: Ahn<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Tröster-Mutz, Stefan (2011), Variation of vowel length in German (PDF), Groningen<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Trudgill, Peter (1974), "Linguistic change and diffusion: description and explanation in sociolinguistic dialect geography", Language in Society, Cambridge University Press, 3 (2): 215–246, doi:10.1017/S0047404500004358<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ulbrich, Horst (1972), Instrumentalphonetisch-auditive R-Untersuchungen im Deutschen, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • von Polenz, Peter (2000), Deutsche Sprachgeschichte: vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Gegewart, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3110168020<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wängler, Hans-Heinrich (1961), Atlas deutscher Sprachlaute, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wierzbicka, Irena; Rynkowska, Teresa (1992), Samouczek języka niemieckiego: kurs wstępny (6th ed.), Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna, ISBN 83-214-0284-4<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wiese, Richard (1996), The Phonology of German, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-824040-6<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Canepari, Luciano (2014), German Pronunciation & Accents (1st ed.), Munich: LINCOM, ISBN 978-3862885626<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Odom, William; Schollum, Benno (1997), German for Singers (2nd ed.), New York: Schirmer Books, ISBN 978-0028646015<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rues, Beate; Redecker, Beate; Koch, Evelyn; Wallraff, Uta; Simpson, Adrian P. (2007), Phonetische Transkription des Deutschen (in German) (1st ed.), Narr, ISBN 978-3823362913CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Siebs, Theodor (1969), Deutsche Aussprache (19th ed.), Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3110003253<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wielki słownik niemiecko-polski (1st ed.), Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 2014 [2010], ISBN 978-83-01-16182-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links