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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 2.
Judith: [Willkommen]!
Chuck: Welcome to another lesson by Germanpod101.com
Judith: This lesson is one part of the accent improvement series.
Chuck: You can find the rest of the lessons at
Judith: Germanpod101.com.
Chuck: Our goal in the accent improvement series is to help you improve your pronunciation so that you sound more and more like a native speaker.
Judith: However to really improve, it’s not enough that you listen to the lessons.
Chuck: You also need to practice the pronunciation of the words and phrases over and over on your own.
Judith: To practice the phrases, go to www.germanpod101.com, access the learning center and use the line by line dialogue tool.
Chuck: If you find that you have a lot of trouble with one particular word, go to the vocabulary section of the learning center and listen to the pronunciation of just that one word over and over. It will drive your roommates crazy.
Judith: You don’t need to do it on speakers.
Chuck: Oh, it’s more fun that way.
Judith: And in the learning center, you can also record your own pronunciation and compare it to mine.
Chuck: Yeah, better than comparing it to mine. So today, we will practice some vowels. Native English speakers typically have a lot of trouble with the German vowels.
Judith: It’s that the English vowels have undergone major changes compared to the vowels in most of the rest of Europe. So mastering the vowels will bring another step closer to a perfect German pronunciation.
Chuck: Today we will look at the dark vowels only because that’s already plenty. Dark vowels are the one written as [a,o] and [u]. Each of….
Judith: A, O and U.
Chuck: Yeah.
Judith: Written.
Chuck: Each of them can be short or long.
Judith: Vowels in German are always short when they are followed by a double consonant and they are always long when they are followed by an H.
Chuck: The H is silent in these cases. It just marks the long vowel.
Judith: When there is only one consonant following the vowel, it will sometimes be short and sometimes long.
Chuck: Alright Judith. Stop keeping us in suspense. Give us an example sentence. We can already hear these vowels.
Judith: [Mann...! Da war was los! Donnerstag um acht am Flussufer]!
Chuck: That means, man, the river shore was really bustling on Thursday at 8. Judith, that was a bit fast. Could you go a bit slower?
Judith: [Mann...! Da war was los! Donnerstag um acht am Flussufer]
Chuck: Alright. Now let’s go through the different vowels one by one.
Judith: First the A. The German vowel [a] has a very clear sound when it’s long [a-]. A German dentist will make you say [a-] because it gets you to open the mouth as wide as possible.
Chuck: In some varieties of English, this will correspond to the sound in father.
Judith: Father…. In German, this sound can be found in the word [wagen] for example or [Wagner].
Chuck: The short German [a] does not have an English equivalent. So you will just have to listen carefully and imitate it.
Chuck: So now, the O. The German vowel O is actually not just one vowel, there are two variations just like in many other languages. One is exactly like the vowel sound draw when it´s long or like sharp when it´s short. So this vowel is easy for English speakers.
Judith: In German, you can find the sound in the word [toll] for example.
Chuck: The other kind of O is harder to grasp for English speakers because English speakers typically combine it with the [u] sound. For example, in the word Go.
Judith: This is a rounded [o] and in German, this vowel stands on its own. For example in [so] as long sound or [Moral] as a short sound. Most often, the German long O is pronounced rounded with rounded lips as in [so] and the German short O is pronounced not rounded as in [toll]. So you have to distinguish [rote].
Chuck: Red ones.
Judith: And [Rotte].
Chuck: Gang.
Judith: [rote - Rotte].
Chuck: The first one is a long vowel said with rounded lips. Second is non-rounded and short.
Judith: [rote - Rotte] Finally, let’s look at the [u]. There is a long [u] as in [U-Bahn].
Chuck: Subway.
Judith: And there is a short [u] as in [unter]
Chuck: Under. Many will know the long [u] sound from the English word “boot”.
Judith: Boot.
Chuck: But again there are varieties of English that don’t use this exact sound.
Judith: Like yours.
Chuck: No, I think I was just imitating the Canadian habit.
Judith: Okay.
Chuck: Was that a little boot. The short [u] is comparable to the English [u] sound in book.
Judith: So you have to distinguish [Mus]
Chuck: Sauce or Jam.
Judith: And [Muss]
Chuck: Must.
Judith: [Mus - muss]
Chuck: Now let’s hear all the words that you need to be able to distinguish again and also the example sentence.
Judith: Okay. First distinguishing sets [mahn- - Mann] and [rote] and [Rotte] and [Mus] and the example [muss]. And the example: Mann, da war was los! Donnerstag um acht am Flußufer.
Chuck: Judith, could you go through the vowels in that phrase and remind us what they are?
Judith: Sure. First [Mann] it’s a short [a], [da war] both are long [a] sounds, [was] short [a] sound again [los] this is a rounded [o] that’s very long [los]. [Donnerstag] is the short [o] which is not rounded. The [a] we don’t do it, but the [Tag] part of it is the long [a] sound. Then [um] is the short [u], [acht] is the short [a], [am] is also short [a], [Fluss] is the short [u] and [Ufer] is a long [u].
Chuck: Now go to the learning center at germanpod101.com and practice this sentence until you sound like a native.
Judith: If you try to pronounce all German sentences perfectly right from the start, you have set yourself an almost impossible goal.
Chuck: However it’s relatively easy to pronounce one or two sentences perfectly if you practice them often enough.
Judith: So the idea is that we show you phrases that contain a lot of stumbling blocks for non-Germans.
Chuck: And once you are able to pronounce these correctly, you will have a working model for everything else you want to say in German.
Judith: You are building a frame of mind that you can switch to whenever you want to pronounce German like a native.
Chuck: So when you want to sound like me…
Judith: Next time, two weeks from now, we will continue to look at vowels but different ones.
Chuck: So be sure to tune in again for the next lesson. See you then.
Judith: [Bis dann]!