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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 4.
Judith: [Willkommen]!
Chuck: Welcome to another lesson by germanpod101.
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 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 however, go to the vocabulary section of the learning center and listen to the pronunciation of just that one word over and over.
Judith: In the learning center, you can also record your own pronunciation and compare it to mine.
Chuck: Today, we will practice the “Umlaut” vowels. Native English speakers typically have a lot of trouble with these, even myself.
Judith: Mastering the “Umlaut” vowels will bring you another step closer to a perfect German pronunciation.
Chuck: So Judith, please give us an example sentence so that we can hear those vowel sounds.
Judith: Alright. [Seine Söhne ärgern sich öfters über Hühner].
Chuck: Okay. That means his sons are often annoyed about chickens. Could you say that sentence again but a bit slower this time?
Judith: I will try. [Seine Söhne ärgern sich öfters über Hühner].
Chuck: In German, there are three sounds that can carry the [dieresis] that is the two dots above each of these vowels A, O and U. However, these three vowels give rise to four different sounds.
Judith: [Ä] the A with [dieresis] can only be pronounced in one way [ä].
Chuck: By the way, a long drawn out [ä] is the German equivalent of [ehm] when you are searching for a word.
Judith: This sound can be long or short but it remains the same sound. To produce it, try to say [a] and then keep your mouth in the same position and say E instead [ae]. As a short vowel, it appears in the word [ärgern].
Chuck: To annoy.
Judith: Or as a long vowel, this sound appears in the word [ähnlich].
Chuck: Similar. Note that many Germans may pronounce this as if it were spelled with an E.
Judith: [Ähnlich].
Chuck: But that’s not standard and singers practice not to do that.
Judith: [Ö] The O with [dieresis] has two possible pronunciations. The more common one is the [ö] as in [Söhne].
Chuck: Sons as in not daughters. This one is always long except in foreign loan words. In a context where the O umlaut has to be short, Germans rely on the other pronunciation.
Judith: The other pronunciation appears for example in [öfters].
Chuck: More often.
Judith: You may recognize this vowel from French words ending in [eur] like [Chauffeur]. Finally, [ü] is pronounced [ü] no matter if it’s short or long. An example for German word with a long [ü] sound is [Hühner].
Chuck: Chickens.
Judith: And the word with a short sound is [über].
Chuck: About.
Judith: In other case, you pronounce this sound by pronouncing an [u] and keeping your mouth in the same position and saying E instead.
Chuck: Now let’s hear the example sentence again.
Judith: [Seine Söhne ärgern sich öfters über Hühner].
Chuck: Judith, can you go through the vowels in that phrase and remind us what they are?
Judith: Sure. The first vowel is the [ö] in [Söhne]. This is the O umlaut and then we have [ärgern] which is an A umlaut, [a] the short one. [öfters] is the short [ö] the [o] umlaut [über] a short [u] umlaut and [Hühner] is the long [u] umlaut [ü].
Chuck: Now please 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 perfectly, you will have a working model for everything else you want to say in German. So go to learning center now and start practicing.
Judith: Next time, two weeks from now, we will look at diphthongs.
Chuck: So be sure to tune in again for the next lesson. See you then.
Judith: [Bis dann].