german accent mark, german accent pronunciation, german accent on keyboard.german accent mark, german accent pronunciation, german accent on keyboard.german accent mark, german accent pronunciation, german accent on keyboard.german accent mark, german accent pronunciation, german accent on keyboard.
How to speak German

What to Know About German Accents

One of the things that no one talks about when learning a language is adopting the native accent. Changing the shape of your mouth for different words, pulling the sound unnaturally from your throat, and changing the harshness of consonants can make you feel like you’re an imposter. However, the German accent pronunciation is essential to improving fluency and properly using words within the language. Understanding and reciprocating a German accent can be tricky, but we’ve put together a few tips to help you improve your speaking skills in the following article.

How to Speak with a German Accent

When learning Deutsch, speaking with the proper German accent will help you communicate and be understood by others. It can be a little tricky though. The German alphabet is similar to English, but the way that each letter is pronounced in a word can be vastly different. To help you master this language, consider some of the following tips on how to speak with German accent pronunciation.

The Letter “W” is Pronounced like “V”

One of the biggest differences in undertaking a German accent is the lack of “w” sound in the language. Although the German alphabet contains the letter “w,” the sound is not what English speakers are used to. Any time you see a “w” or “wh” in a word or sentence, it should always be pronounced like a “v.”

The Letter “V” is Pronounced like “F”

To differentiate between “w” and “v,” the German accent pronunciation for the latter sounds more like an “f.” This, like the previous rule, is a constant change that needs to occur. Every time you see the letter “v” in a word, pronounce it like you would “f” in fear.

Pronounce “S” Like the Letter “Z”

When you’re reading a word in German and see an “s” sandwiched between other letters, it should be pronounced like the “z” in zoo. However, when the word ends in the letter “s,” it’s pronounced the same as in English.

Change the Pronunciation of “Th”

English pronunciation of “th” is made by touching your tongue to the back of your upper teeth, but this sound doesn’t exist in the German language. Instead, German accent pronunciation changes to “z” or “s.” Technically, you can choose whether you want the “th” to sound like a “z” or an “s.” There’s no hard-written rule explaining when to use either, so try both and see what feels more natural.

Enunciate “R” and “H” Using Your Throat

German isn’t as deep of a language as some, but it does require you to use your throat when pronouncing the letter “r” and “h.” “R” should be pronounced by using a gargling action, similar to if you were to use mouthwash. The English way of pronouncing this letter does not exist, so it will take some getting used to. Try pronouncing the word “rabbit” more like “hr-abbit” to feel the difference in German accent pronunciation. The “h” in the German alphabet should also be slightly rolled.

If “St” or “Sp” Begin a Word, Pronunciation Changes

There are several words in German that begin with “sp” or “st,” but these aren’t pronounced the same way they are in English. Instead, to correctly perform this German accent pronunciation, “sp” becomes “shp” and “st” is spoken like “sht.” It should sound like you’re saying “shhh” before pronouncing the second letter (t or p).

“Sh” is Pronounced Like “Ch”

Similarly, the presence of a “sh” letter combination changes pronunciation to something that more closely resembles “ch.”

Gerunds End in a Hard “K”

A gerund is a word that ends in -ing. In German, this pronunciation changes to a hard “k” so that gerunds sound like “ink.”

Double “Oo” Sounds Like a Short “U”

If you see a German word that has a double “oo,” pronounce it like the English letter “u.” You can tighten the vowel, making it sound more nasally and your mouth should form a tight circle.

Change How You Say Vowels

How you pronounce vowels is another major difference in the German language. In English, most of the vowels should come from the throat and have more elongated pronunciation. In German, the vowels are shortened and pronounced more sharply. This makes the short “i” sound more like the English “e,” while the “e” ends up sounding more like “ehh.”

Harden Consonant Pronunciation

Consonants are pronounced with more force in the German language. To achieve this, you should say them with the tip of your tongue. This might feel awkward for native English speakers, as it would change the meaning of certain words if done in other languages, but it’s important to properly pronounce German words. This is applied to consonants such as “g,” “d,” and “b.” If applied to an English word, it would turn the pronunciation of “pug” into “puk.” Practice makes perfect!


How to Use a German Accent Mark

In addition to the above changes, there are three vowels that have a German accent mark and one unique character (eszett). The dots over the vowels are referred to as umlauts and are used to show the speaker a specific way of changing their pronunciation. With all of the special characters and variations in pronunciation, German accents can take some time to master. Expedite your journey towards fluency by downloading Tandem today and get started learning German online.

First, recognize the umlauts: ä, ö, and ü. The German accent pronunciation for the short umlaut ä sounds more like an English “e” like in the word “red” or the ay in the word “says.” To achieve the long pronunciation for ä, just hold the sound for longer. The pronunciation for the short umlaut “ö” sounds kind of like the “e” sound as well, but instead of saying it by pulling the corners of your mouth back, round your lips into the shape of an “o.” There’s not really an English counterpart that can be used to compare this sound. The long ö is the same, just held for more time. To pronounce the short ü, take the long “i” sound in English and while saying it, round your lips into an “o” shape. Again, the long version is simply held for longer. Like the ö, there is no English equivalent for this sound. Finally, the eszett (ß) is pronounced exactly like a regular “s” sound.

Writing a German Accent on a Keyboard

Most of the German letters are already on your keyboard, but to write the special characters you will need to use a different technique. For Mac users, you can simply hold down the respective key and wait for a little window to appear. This pop-up will have the option to choose from various accent marks, including the German accent used in umlauts. Alternatively, hold down “Option + U” then the corresponding letter you wish to add the umlaut to. To write the eszett, hold down the “s” key. Alternatively, you can simply press “Option + S” to achieve a ß.

Writing a German accent on a keyboard for Windows is a little different. Use the following procedures to integrate special characters into your written German.

ß → Alt + 0223
Ä → Alt + 0196
ä → Alt + 0228
Ö → Alt + 0214
ö → Alt + 0246
Ü → Alt + 0220
ü → Alt + 0252

What Does a German Accent Sound Like Around the World?

There are over 230 million people who speak German around the world and it’s actually the official language of six different countries—Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, Luxemburg, and Belgium. The German accent is also commonly used as a minority language in countries like Denmark, Russia, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, and even Brazil!

Regardless of where you are, using a German accent to speak the language helps you sound more like a native speaker. It can help improve the overall flow of your words and allow you to be better understood when you’re communicating. Different versions may use alternative German verbs or German adjectives, so brush up on some location-specific lingo before you visit! Some different German dialects that can change your German accent pronunciation include the following:

High German (Hochdeutsch)

High German comes from southern Germany, near the Alps and the highlands. This is the type of German that you hear spoken throughout most of the country today, the type that’s spoken on TV, and the version that’s taught in schools. It’s considered “standard” German.

Low German (Plattdeutch)

This dialect originates from Northern Germany and the Netherlands. While its German accent pronunciation is similar to high German, the written forms are extremely different. It’s not very common and is fading out of use.

Swiss German (Schwiizerdütsch)

Swiss German is spoken throughout the country of Switzerland. It has an almost French and Italian influence and the differences in pronunciation can even be hard for Native German speakers to understand.

Austrian German (Österreichisches Deutsch)

Austrian German is spoken in Austria and maintains similar grammar rules with a pretty variable set of vocabulary. The difference between these two is similar to how American English and British English vary.

Pennsylvania Dutch (Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch)

Finally, an interesting variation of the German accent is spoken in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This dialect is minimally used, but it continues to exist to this day.

While learning the German accent can seem like a confusing, uphill battle, the pronunciation will get easier! One of the best ways to work towards fluency and natural accent use is by partnering with a native German speaker on Tandem. Tandem offers a unique language learning experience that will help you deepen your understanding and improve your German accent and overall communication.

Our community includes millions of learners who speak languages across the world. All you need to do is download the app, sign up, and find a native speaker of your target language. Once you match, you’ll begin communicating through language exchange and one-on-one teachings. When trying to navigate the complexities that surround learning a new language, connecting with a like-minded native speaker can be extremely beneficial. To join our worldwide community, sign up for Tandem today!

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