Standard German phonology

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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.

Vowels[change | change source]

Single vowels[change | change source]

Monophthong phonemes of Standard German
Front Central Back
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

Vowel combos[change | change source]

Ending point
Front Back
Open-mid ɔʏ̯
Open aɪ̯ aʊ̯

Consonants[change | change source]

German has 25 phonemes, which is average among other languages. One of its more unique sounds is the unusual affricate /p͡f/.[1]

Labial Dental/

Alveolar
Palatal Velar/

Uvular
Glottal
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

Ich-Laut and ach-Laut[change | change source]

'Ich-Laut' is the voiceless palatal fricative [ç] (found in the word ich [ʔɪç] 'I'), and ach-Laut is the voiceless velar fricative [x] (as in ach [ax] the interjection 'oh', 'alas'). 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].)

Notes[change | change source]

  1. For a detailed discussion of the German consonants from a synchronic and diachronic point of view, see Cercignani (1979).

References[change | change source]

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Other websites[change | change source]