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Lesson Transcript

Judith: Hello [Ich heiße] Judith.
Chuck: Hi I am Chuck.
Judith: [Sie hören germanpod101.com]
Chuck: You are listening to germanpod101.com. This is accent improvement series, lesson 1.
Judith: [Willkommen]!
Chuck: Welcome. This is a very first lesson of germanpod101’s accent improvement series.
Judith: This series is for you if you want to improve your German pronunciation, your German accent.
Chuck: There are beginners with very bad accents but there are also advanced learners with very bad accents. For example, people who’ve been studying German with non-native teachers. So this series is for everyone no matter if you are beginner, an intermediate or advanced student.
Judith: Every lesson will focus on one particular problem area. Initially we will look at single sounds but later in the series, we will look at clusters, word stress, sentence melody, colloquial pronunciation and even pronunciation words influenced by Dalek.
Chuck: Well it sounds like a lot. Today’s topic is the CH sounds. They are one of the biggest obstacles to good German pronunciation. Even I still have trouble with them sometimes.
Judith: We will start by hearing two sentences that contain a lot of CH sounds. To get the most out of this lesson, you should afterwards go to the learning center, go to the line by line dialogue section and listen and imitate these sentences until you can say them perfectly. The voice recording tool will help you compare your pronunciation to mine.
Chuck: Alright. So let’s start. What are the sentences?
Judith: First one is [Dieses Buch ist doch zum Lachen. Ich brauche es echt nicht].
Chuck: This book is a laughing matter. I really don’t need it. Umm Judith, could you say that again but a bit slower this time.
Judith: I will try. [Dieses Buch ist doch zum Lachen. Ich brauche es echt nicht].
Chuck: All right. You know another phrase.
Judith: Yes I picked another sentence that contains a lot of CH. [Ich möchte jeden Mittwoch Pfirsichkuchen essen].
Chuck: I would like to eat peach pie every Wednesday. Umm pie!
Judith: Umm pie.
Chuck: But I still think you are going a bit too fast there. Just slow it down this time.
Judith: I will try [Ich möchte jeden Mittwoch Pfirsichkuchen essen].
Chuck: Okay. I hear two kinds of CH sounds in those sentences. One is the hard sound. So I guess that’s comparable to the Scottish CH and [loch] or the Spanish J in Jose. The other is the softer sound which doesn’t have an equivalent in English or Spanish. I think they are both giving the speakers quite a bit of trouble though.
Judith: Yes the hard CH sound can be found in the exclamation [ach] also like in [Jiddisch]. It always occurs after a dark vowel such as the [a,o] and [u] like [ach, och, uch]. You can produce the sound by exhaling strongly from your throat [ch, ch]. Try it!
Chuck: Me?
Judith: Yes.
Chuck: Alright. [ch, ch]
Judith: Yes, very good.
Chuck: Yay! My Dutch came in handy.
Judith: The Dutch, it might get even a bit more hard, but that will do for German.
Chuck: Okay, I meant the Belgian Dutch.
Judith: Aha. And I hear some common words that feature the sound [machen, Sache, doch, noch, brauchen, Buch]. You know the translations all of them?
Chuck: Yep.
Judith: [machen]?
Chuck: To do or to make.
Judith: Yes, [Sache].
Chuck: Thing.
Judith: [doch]
Chuck: That one is a bit tougher. Sometimes it’s like so and sometimes it’s like yes and….
Judith: It’s intensifies the meaning [noch].
Chuck: Still
Judith: [brauchen]
Chuck: To need
Judith: [Buch]
Chuck: Oh I think we know this is book.
Judith: Yes. All of these contain the hard CH sound because it follows an [a, o, u] and then we have the soft CH sound which can be found in the word for I [Ich] compare [ach - ich]. This soft CH sound always occurs after a light vowel such as [e, i] or the [Umlaute]. It’s produced in the front of the mouth. To produce it, you could try saying a long drawn out E and then you keep the mouth position, you keep the tongue position and everything and you just exhale strongly from the middle of your mouth [Ich]. Try this too. I believe this is the one that you have more trouble with Chuck.
Chuck: [Ich]
Judith: Yes. Say again.
Chuck: [Ich]
Judith: Yes. And here are some common words that feature this sound [Ich, dich, nicht, echt, möchte, Küche]. Translate [Ich]
Chuck: I.
Judith: [Dich]
Chuck: You as an object.
Judith: [nicht]
Chuck: Not.
Judith: [echt]
Chuck: Really
Judith: [möchte]
Chuck: Would like
Judith: [Küche]
Chuck: Kitchen. I think maybe one of the reasons why I was pronouncing them wrong is because I didn’t realize this rule. So I would always pronounce [echt] like the hard CH.
Judith: Yes. It’s kind of unusual that we are looking at the preceding vowel, not the following one. In Italian, for example or French, a lot of phonetic rules depend on what follows certain letter, but in German, we always look at the vowel before it. When the vowel before the [ch] sound is [e] or [i] or an umlaut, then it’s a soft variation [ch] and not [ch]
Chuck: So you can rely completely on this rule about light and dark vowels. So when you have a word like [Buch], you see that the CH follows the dark vowel and hence you will hear that hard CH sound.
Judith: But the plural of [Buch] is [Bücher] with an umlaut and this means that suddenly, the CH is soft in addition to the vowel change [Bücher, Buch - Bücher].
Chuck: Yeah it can be quite annoying but these kind of changes occur with lot of words. So you are always able to tell what kind of CH is necessary just by looking at the preceding vowel. So let’s hear the example sentences again.
Judith: First sentence. [Dieses Buch ist doch zum Lachen. Ich brauche es echt nicht] and the second one [Ich möchte jeden Mittwoch Pfirsichkuchen essen]. These phrases contain the [ch] and the [ch] in all kinds of combinations. Say these phrases right and you have mastered the sounds.
Chuck: You might even like to try using these sentences when you try to compete in our contest.
Judith: Yes, there is a contest going on as you probably already heard in the news. Otherwise go listen to the news now or look at our blog.
Chuck: Mastering these phrases is a very useful step towards a good German pronunciation. So go to the learning center now and practice but they can also be important if you really like peach pie on Wednesdays.
Judith: So next time, two weeks from now, we will look at the other really big problem area for English speakers, the vowels.
Chuck: Umm, you are not going to hit me with those umlauts, are you?
Judith: No, umlauts come later. First we look at the single vowels and normal ones because they are difficult enough.
Chuck: Now, I am really scared. So anyway be sure to tune in again for the next lesson. So see you there.
Judith: [Bis dann]!