Adlerchen – Alphabet

German utilizes a modified version of the Latin script, which is the same writing system that English uses. However, German also has some additional letters that don’t exist in English. German spelling is very phonetic and regular. There are basically no silent letters, with only a few exemptions to the rule. Before you can start learning vocabulary, it is important for you to learn how to pronounce everything you read, so the following chart will go over every letter in German and its pronunciation(s) as represented by the International Phonetic Alphabet. In addition to the chart, the University of Iowa provides an animated phonetics guide to German, which is located here, and can be followed along with.

Letter……………………IPA…………………………Example……………………

VOWELS

a                               aː, a                     hat, Wasser

ä                               eː, ɛ                     Väter, Männer

e                               e, ɛ, ə1                 gegen, denn, habe

é                               e                          Café

i                                i, ɪ                       China, bitte

o                               o, ɔ                      so, voll

ö                               œ, ø                     zwölf, schön

u                               ʊ, uː                     und, um

ü                               y, ʏ                      über, füllt

y                               y, ʏ                       Typ, Rhythmus

aa                             a                           Staat

ai                              aɪ                          Mai

au                             aʊ                         laut

ay                             aɪ                          Bayern

äu                             ɔʏ                         Häuser

ee                             eː                         Beere

ei                              aɪ                         mein

eu                             ɔʏ                         Euro

ey                             aɪ                          Meyer

ie                               iː                         dienen

oe                              ø                         Goethe

oo                              oː                        Boot

ow                             oː                        Pankow

CONSONANTS

b                                b, p2                   bitte, ab

c                                k                         Café

d                                d, t2                   du, Wind

f                                 f                         fest

g                                g, ʒ3, k2              geben, Etage, Tag

h4                               h                        heiße

j                                 j, ʒ3, dʒ3            jung, Journal, Jeans

k                                k                         König

l                                  l                         laufen

m                               m                        Mann

n                                n                        Nummer

p                                p                        Person

r5                                ʀ/ɹ/r, ɐ             recht, Sänger

s                                 z, s                    so, sexy

t                                 t                        tun

v                                 f, v3                   viel, aktiv

w                                v                        was

x                                 ks                       Fax

z                                 z, ts                   ziehen, Zahl

ß6                                s                        heiße

ch                               x, ç                    Buch, mich

ck                               k                         Klecks

dt                               t                         Stadt

kn                              kn                        Knie

pf                               pf                        Pfeffer

ph                               f                          Photo

qu                               kʋ3                      Qual

st                                ʃt, st2                   starten, Post

sp                               ʃp                         später

th                               t                           Theme

ti                                tsɪ̯                        Nation

tz                               ts                          Platz

zw                              zʋ                         zwei

chs                              ks                         Sechs

sch                              ʃ                           Englisch

dsch                           dʒ3                        Dschungel

schm                           ʃm                         schmertz

tsch                            tʃ                          Deutsch

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

1. e as /ə/ has many uses in German orthography:

  • It is used in verb inflections, such as habe [habə].
  • The past participle prefix ge~ [gə’] makes use of it.
  • The comparative suffix ~er [ər] makes use of it.
  • The agent suffix ~er [ər] makes use of it.
  • Some nouns pluralize with a ~e ending, such as Schuhe [ʃuːə].
  • And, some words just end in ~e and ~er, though these endings don’t denote anything, such as Seemöwe [zeːmœvə] or Wasser [va’sər].

2. These sounds occur only at the end of words.

3. These sounds are found only in loanwords.

4. h is sometimes used to mark a long vowel in German orthography, such as Kohl [koːl]. This occurs with the letters a, ä, e, i, o, ö, u, and ü. Thus ah becomes /aː/, äh becomes /eː/, eh becomes /eː/, ih becomes /iː/, oh becomes /oː/, öh becomes /øː/, uh becomes /uː/, and üh becomes /yː/. Compare this to the use of double consonants to mark short vowels, such as Wasser [va’sər].

5. r is also a vowel in German, in addition to being a consonant. Some words that end in ~er (again, this isn’t the specific suffix ~er; only the use of the same sound) are pronounced /ɐ/, such as Ober [ɔːbɐ]. In addition, r as /ʀ/, /r/, and /ɹ/ is a dialectal difference. /ɹ/ is the same hard r sound as in English and is used in Northern Germany. /r/ is trilled and is used in Bavaria and Austria. /ʀ/ is uvular and is used everywhere else. Note however that these pronunciations have overlap and in some case free variation.

6. ß counts as two successive s’s. However, despite technically being a double consonant, it is not used after short vowels. This is due to the 1996 spelling reforms, which limited its use to being after long vowels and diphthongs, thus the spelling of the words Spaß [ʃpaːs] and Neuß [nɔʏs], but not Miss [mɪs], which used to be Miß. Also, please note that it is not used in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and ss is used in favor of it in all circumstances there.

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Posted on August 1, 2011, in Adlerchen, German Language and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Adlerchen – Alphabet.

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