Is it rude to imitate an accent?
German accent: 5 mistakes you make when speaking English
Many Germans feel at home Jermin äckzint a thorn in the side. That is why they work tirelessly to stamp it out. Most of the time it works quite well - but even if your [th] is sitting and your [r] is rolling, there are still a few characteristics by which native English speakers can immediately recognize you as German. Often these mistakes are sounds, characteristics and rules of German that we as native speakers have internalized too much; we are no longer aware of them and thus involuntarily transfer them to any other language. So even if you don't necessarily want to learn English, the following article can help you understand your mother tongue better - and thus better compare it with other languages. So let's start our journey of discovery of the German language with a seemingly very simple question:
1) Attention accent: How do you speak England out?
There is a very high probability that you will speak the word England (in English) wrong. When we see an “ng”, we Germans do not enter an [n] followed by a [g], but a reduced [ŋ] from us. If you listen carefully, you will notice that the "g" is added to Thing, england and finger from the in exactly, quite or smooth differs. With the English word England you should also hear a [g] next to the reduced [ŋ] - just insert it after the [ŋ]! And you can England as the Queen personally pronounce - right? Not quite yet! Because you probably still say "[English]" instead of "[England]". This phenomenon is explained in the next section.
2) Attention accent: [English] instead of [England] - the final hardening
My favorite word in German is not about Shooting star or Glimmer of hope, but those Final hardening. This not only sounds very German, but is also a distinctive feature of our accent. Final hardening means the phenomenon that we pronounce consonants in the final, i.e. at the end of syllables, basically voiceless. Instead of “[dog]”, German native speakers say “[Hunt]”, and in English instead of “[dog]” “[dok]”. Do not you think? Fortunately, there is an easy way to find out if a consonant is voiced or unvoiced: place your fingers on your neck. Whenever you feel a vibration while speaking, a sound is voiced. When you say “dog”, the final note does not vibrate, because your German head has changed the voiced [d] into the voiceless counterpart [t] in accordance with the hardening of the final voice. On the other hand, when you say "dogs", the [d] vibrates because it has moved from the end of the syllable to the middle.
The English has no final hardening. Voiced consonants such as [b, d, g, v] and [z] should therefore always vibrate at the end of the word and not be converted into their unvoiced counterparts [p, t, k, f] and [s]. So put your hand on your neck while you speak while you say words with a voiced consonant at the end. When you feel a vibration, you are good (not: [goot]) to go!
Extra tip: Perhaps you will find it easier to pronounce finals in a voiced manner if you pronounce the vowel [a, e, i, o, u] in front of it a little longer. That brings us to the next point:
3) Attention accent: I bet this bat had a bad day! - Pay attention to vowels!
I bet this bat had a bad day! - Although this sentence is unlikely to come out of your lips in real life (people who are regularly invited to international bat conventions, of course excluded), it is at least very suitable for practicing your English. Because each of the words from the triplet bet / bat / bad should have its own sound.
You already know that asked and bath be delimited by a voiceless or voiced final sound. But also bet and asked differ significantly for English ears. This is due to the fact that English has different [e] and [ä] qualities that for us Germans either do not exist at all or are all soup. We speak the vowels at bet / bat / bad all more like a [ɛ] (as in kind or real) out. For the English [æ] in asked the mouth should actually be open a little wider. If you sound a bit like a sheep, you're doing everything right - and speaking of sheep, beware of wolves in sheep's clothing (the wrong friends)!
4) Attention accent: Beware of false friends!
False friends like mobile (actually: mobile / cell phone) are widely known. But what about the following terms?
A projector actually means in English projector and your boss is just yours in English bossif you work in the kitchen (as a chef), otherwise he's yours superior, boss or chief (in the military or the police) - you don't have to genius (Not: genius - "Genie in a bottle") to remember these false friends, but it is still not easy! Fortunately, there are long lists that draw your attention to possible stumbling blocks.
5) Attention accent: Until now this wasn't so hard, or?
They're not false friends, but translation traps: little words like or? (at the end of the sentence), maybe yes and stop. If you think to yourself now: "It can't be that difficult to translate these words, can it?", I say: "Yes, it can!" - because for but if you don't have an English equivalent - instead you just say "yes”.
And also the reinsurance or (as in the headline) cannot simply be with or translate. For this, in British English either the verb is negated (This is easy, isn't it?) or affirmative (This isn't hard, is it?), Americans like to hang out right on, and Canadians ask eh?.
Even words like Hooray! (Hooray!), Pooh (Yuck / yikes / big!) and Oh woe! can cause us difficulties, because we often do not perceive them as words and therefore do not cram them like normal vocabulary - but in the conversation it is noticeable if they are missing. That's why, at the end, there is an expert tip on how you can best work on your accent: Talk to native speakers! On words like I see! you are unlikely to come across books or movies because they are characteristics of real conversations that are not artfully constructed. Talking to native speakers here - and when learning languages in general - is once again worth its weight in gold!
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