Trademarks of German Accents

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Trademarks of German Accents

Postby reflexsilver86 » 2005-03-13, 22:13

I'm generally not very good at determining German accents, still being a beginner, learning standard Hochdeutsch, and the fact that I'm just not German so a lot is lost on me.

However, I've found it interesting that when a German speaks English, I have been able to tell the ones from Berlin and Bavaria.

Well, this came to mind because last evening when I was watching Good Bye Lenin! with the cast commentary turned on, Daniel Brühl, the actor who plays Alex, the main character, and the others were discussing how he had to learn a Berlin accent in this movie, because he himself is from Köln.

I had no idea everyone in the movie was even speaking with a Berliner accent. I guess that's because everyone in the movie had it, and my ear isn't trained enough to tell.

But for native Germans, or those familiar enough with the language to be able to tell, what makes each one so different?

I had heard a Berlin accent was typically harsh. It also sometimes has been looked down on, I've heard. This reminds me of how a New York accent is viewed, as a very harsh form of speech that tends to be looked down on by people who speak with a "standard American" or Midwestern accent, or people from the South. The whole cawfee tawk thing. lol I lost my New York accent myself upon moving to Florida, I now have that neutral, Standard American accent.

Anyway, I know this has been discussed to a degree in other threads, like the German one, scattered over the place. But I think if it could all be hit on in one thread, that would be nice. There apparently are many different accents that prevail throughout Germany.
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Postby Geist » 2005-03-14, 1:52

I've only really heard (until next summer :D ) Hochdeutsch, and the dialect of Baden-Württemberg - I couldn't readily understand the latter at first, but with some practice I was able to comprehend it better. Suffice it to say they are quite different.

Who'd ever want to give up a NY accent? :twisted: I have a touch of one myself (actually, I found out I did from Floridians), and I'd never want to lose it.
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Postby reflexsilver86 » 2005-03-14, 4:22

LOL I didn't choose to give it up or anything, it just happened over time. I'd say it probably took two years to lose the accent.

What's interesting is I have friends who have lived in Florida since they were around 4-5 and they still retain a touch of a NY accent. My mother, who lived in NY for 35 years, lost most of hers. However, what's funny is when she gets angry or upset, the accent comes flooding back.

It's actually done that to me on occasion, though very rarely. What's interesting is how I'll pronounce a word one way and then another, mainly the O, such as in "Florida" and "orange" Sometimes I'll say it Flooorida, other times it comes out as Flah-rida; are-ange and orange. I don't know. This has nothing to do with the German accent though, but accents are interesting. :mrgreen:
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Postby Saaropean » 2005-03-14, 9:56

The personal pronoun "ich" is pronounced [i:] in the south, [IC] in the center, [IC] or [Ik] in the north (particularly Berlin).
The prefix "ge-" is pronounced [k] in the south, [g@] everywhere else.
Throughout the center and south, final N is dropped, Ö is pronounced like E, Ü like I.
G is always pronounced [g] or [k] in the south (including the suffix "-ig"). In the north and center, it is often pronounced like CH. In Cologne and Berlin, it's pronounced [j].
Southern dialects have more diphthongs than High German, central dialects have less (Berlin, too).
Consonants are devoiced (especially between vowels) throughout the center and in Franconia (around Nuremberg).
[C] is pronounced [S] in the center.
"das" is pronounced "dat" in the north and from Cologne to Luxembourg.
Southern accents are known for their diminutives: Instead of "-chen", they use "-li" (Swiss), "-el" (Bavarian/Austrian) or "-le" (Swabian).

The sentence "Das weiß ich nicht" in different regions:
München [de:s vOAs i: ne:t]
Stuttgart [dE:s vOIs i: nEt]
Frankfurt [dEs vA:z IS nEt]
Saarbrücken [das vE:z IS nIt]
Saarlouis [dat vE:s AIS nIt]
Berlin [dEt ve:s Ik nIC]

And the words "klein" and "sprechen":
München [klOAn] / [re:dn]
Stuttgart [klOI] / ["SvEts@]
Frankfurt [klA:n] / ["bab@l@]
Saarbrücken [klE:n] / ["SvEts@]
Berlin [kle:n] / :?:
Hamburg [klaIn] / ["Sna:k@n]

Typical greetings:
München: Grüß Gott / Pfiat di
Stuttgart: Grüß Gott / Ade [a"de:]
Frankfurt: Morsche ["mOZ@] / Tschüss
Saarbrücken: Tach / Tschüss [tSYs]
Köln: Tach / Tschö
Hamburg: Moin / Tschüs [tSy:s]


SOUTHERN ACCENTS
München: They say [fUI] for "viel", [SpUIn] for "spielen". R is a uvular trill. I'd say Bavarian sounds deeper than High German.

Stuttgart: Woisch, i ben im Schwåbeländle aufgwachse, aber i woiß fei gar net, wie i däs bschreibe kå... :?

Nürnberg: I'm afraid I don't know so much about Franconian. It's sounds like a mixture between Bavarian and Swabian to me, but with rolled Rs and voiced consonants.

CENTRAL ACCENTS
Dresden: O sounds almost like Ö, U almost like Ü, consonants are voiced.

Frankfurt: Hessian has a particular melody. Sounds a bit nasal, I think, with voiced consonants.

Köln: L is retroflex (like in American English), [dat] for "das".

Berlin (actually somewhere between central and northern): Dative instead of accusative pronouns ("Ick liebe dir"),

NORTHERN ACCENTS
They pronounce short vowels as closed as long vowels, they drop less vowels.


I'm afraid I can't describe the typical melodies of all those accents. :( I recommend you to listen to sound samples.
Last edited by Saaropean on 2005-09-18, 7:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Nukalurk » 2005-03-14, 10:32

For Berlin:
I just try to think of some details. :lol:

"gucken" is always pronounced like "kucken" ("kieken" is the original Berlin word, "kucken" is just typical for people from Berlin when they speak Standard German), Wäsche sounds like "Wösche", "Tisch" like "Tüsch".

"ei" often turns to "ee": Tüschbeen, eejentlich, een.

"au" sometimes turns into "oo": koofen, loofen, Ooje.

The ending syllabe "-er" turns into "-a" (often even within the word): Rechna, Lehra, Jäga.

"g" at the beginning and in the middle of the words turns to "j": Järtna, jejen, jammeln.

"g" at the end of a word normally ends in the hard "ch" like in Bach (and sometimes in the middle of a word, too): tach, Jacht (instead of Jagd); besides "-ig", this is pronounced like the Standard German "ich" but this is typical for Standard German, too, at least nowadays.

"nichts" turns to "nüscht".

Pronouns:
ick, du (often turns into "de" and in contracted forms to "te"), er, se, es, wir / wa, ihr, se

The syllabe "en" normally loses the "e": kiekn, wartn, lesn, essn.

"das" / "dies" => "dat" / "dit" / "det"

"ist" => "is"

Now I few examples:
"Musst du gehen?" => "Musste jehn?"
"Was ist denn?" => "Wat isn?"
"Das ist ein grünes Auge." => "Dit / Dat / Det isn jrünet Ooje."
"Was sollen wir tun?" => "Wat solln wa tun?"
"Ich kann nichts sehen." => "Ick kann nüscht sehn."


I just wrote down a few typical word and rules which came to my mind but I there are many more. ;)

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Postby Saaropean » 2005-03-14, 11:12

I forgot an important one:
SP and ST are always pronounced [Sb] and [Sd] in the center and south. In the far north (like Hamburg), they are always pronounced [sp] and [st].

Amikeco wrote:"gucken" is always pronounced like "kucken"

Is there any region where it's pronounced with [g]?

Amikeco wrote:"das" / "dies" => "dat" / "dit" / "det"

What's the difference?

Amikeco wrote:"ist" => "is"

That's typical for colloquial High German and central dialects, too. In southern dialects, it becomes "isch".

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Postby Saaropean » 2005-03-14, 13:34

To distinguish a speaker of High German, I'd use a simplified classification, based on prosody (sentence melody) and the following criteria:
- If someone pronounces SP/ST [sp/st] at the beginning of a word, she's from the far north.
- If someone pronounced SP/ST [Sd/Sb] in the middle or at the end of a word, she's from the center or south.
- If someone pronounces the "-ig" suffix [Ik], she's from the south.
- If someone pronounces G like CH, she's from the center or north.
- If someone pronounces [S] instead of [C], she's from the center.
- If someone pronounces "ich" as [i:], she's from the south.
- If someone pronounces "das/was/es" with T instead of S, she's from the north or from the far west of the center.

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Postby Axystos » 2005-03-14, 14:14

Saaropean wrote:- If someone pronounces SP/ST [sp/st] at the beginning of a word, <u>she's</u> from the far north.
- If someone pronounced SP/ST [Sd/Sb] in the middle or at the end of a word, <u>she's</u> from the center or south.
- If someone pronounces the "-ig" suffix [Ik], <u>she's</u> from the south.
- If someone pronounces G like CH, <u>she's</u> from the center or north.
- If someone pronounces [S] instead of [C], <u>she's</u> from the center.
- If someone pronounces "ich" as [i:], <u>she's</u> from the south.
- If someone pronounces "das/was/es" with T instead of S, <u>she's</u> from the north or from the far west of the center.

Redest du nur mit Frauen? :P
Do you talk only with women? :P

Anyway, what I wanted to ask, was: do you have such a breakdown for east - west, too?

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Postby Saaropean » 2005-03-14, 15:11

Axystos wrote:Anyway, what I wanted to ask, was: do you have such a breakdown for east - west, too?

No. German dialects (and thus accents) have a strong north-south distinction, but not east-west. The Saxon accent is quite well known (see Dresden in my first post), but it's only spoken in the far south of "the east". People around Berlin have their particular accent, at the coast it's a northern accent or even Low German (as in the north-west), and around Magdeburg people speak "accent-free High German" (just like in Hannover).

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Postby Nukalurk » 2005-03-14, 16:33

Saaropean wrote:
Amikeco wrote:"gucken" is always pronounced like "kucken"

Is there any region where it's pronounced with [g]?


I don't know, maybe in Bavaria. I thought you say "gucken" in Standard German.

Saaropean wrote:
Amikeco wrote:"das" / "dies" => "dat" / "dit" / "det"

What's the difference?



It is not clearly defined, often "dit" is used in the "das"-meaning. "det" is a version of "dit", I think.


Saaropean wrote:
Amikeco wrote:"ist" => "is"

That's typical for colloquial High German and central dialects, too. In southern dialects, it becomes "isch".


By the way, I forgot to mention that ä is often pronounced as "e" or even as a long "e", so "Jäga" should be written as "Jega" but no one would recognize it anymore. ;)

I tried to add IPA signs but it hasn't worked. :?

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Postby reflexsilver86 » 2005-03-14, 21:03

Thanks so much everyone, I really appreciate it. I've been trying to find a resource where they have people with the different dialects. I have one for the Netherlands, where you have a map of the Netherlands and there are tons of little dots covering it that when you click you can hear sound clips of conversation (most beneficial for a Dutchman since I couldn't really distinguish much, except between the North/South)

I immediately notice the pronounciation of Ich and -ig. Sometimes in a same learning program you hear two different people and one will say, for example, zwanzig, with the hard k sound and the other with the soft ich. (I'm terriible at describing this stuff, I can't use the IPA yet. lol)

Now, that's interesting about the "G" because I thought the G was pronounced a a G at the beginning, but a K at the end of the word. "Tag" for example. However, this makes a lot of sense, especially if it prevails in the Berlin accent, because in the film, Alex looks for Spreewald pickles. Now, it sounds to my ear like "Spreewald Koken" but Koken isn't a sound that is anywhere near the word for pickles; if he's saying "Spreewald Gurken" with the G as a K sound, that makes sense.
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Postby Nukalurk » 2005-03-15, 6:27

Strange, we would say "Jurkn".

la

Postby la » 2005-03-23, 18:11

Very interesting!
By the way, I wouldn't say "Español"... "Castellano" is a far better name, since there are many other languages in Spain (and even very strong independentist moviments -- which are quite right, if you have in mind that the Spanish government minds more about making people in Catalonia speak Spanish/Castillian rather than actual politics...)

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Postby reflexsilver86 » 2005-03-23, 22:16

Not to go off topic, but this was off topic, so anyway:

Español refers not just to the Spanish spoken in Spain, which is preferrably called Castellano, but to the language as a whole, including Latin American Spanish, the speakers of which far outnumber those of Spanish from Spain itself.

Spain is indeed very diverse when it comes to languages. However that would say Français isn't appropriate for French because other languages are spoken within France; or that English shouldn't be called English because it's spoken outside of England. The language originated there, and that's where it gets the name.
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