Pronouncing the Consonants

German consonants are pronounced fairly close to how they are pronounced in English. Table 2-5 shows you how to pronounce the consonants in German words. Listen to your CD for the German pronunciation.

Table 2-5. Pronouncing the Consonants

There are a few things you have to look out for with certain consonants, besides what's given in the previous table. Sometimes the consonants change sound depending on their placement in a word, as you can already see from the pronunciation for the letter “s.” When the letter “b” appears at the end of a word or prefix, it is pronounced like a “p.” When the letter “d” appears at the end of a word, it is pronounced like a “t.”

Table 2-6. Sounding the Letter “B” at the End of a Word or Prefix

German Pronunciation English grob (GROP) rude, rough starb (SHTAHRP) died ablehnen (AHP-lay-nen) to reject absagen (AHP-zah-gen) to cancel

Table 2-7. Sounding the Letter “D” at the End of a Word or Prefix

German Pronunciation English Deutschland (DOITOH-lunt) Germany Freund (FROINT) friend Kind (KINT) child Gold (GAWLT) gold Geld (GELT) money Bild (BILLT) picture

When the letter “g” appears at the end of a word or prefix, it is pronounced like a “k.” However, when it follows the letter “n” it is pronounced like the English “ng:” jung (YOONG) young.

Table 2-8. Sounding the Letter “G” at the End of a Word or Prefix

German Pronunciation English Weg (VAYK) path lag (LAHK) lay trug (TROOK) wore weglaufen (VEHK-low-fen) to run away

In 1998, Germany adopted new spelling rules to try to simplify the language as it is taught in schools. The most obvious change involves the use of the ß in words—ß is to be used only after long vowels and diphthongs, and “ss” is to be used following short vowel sounds. So daß becomes dass under the new rules. Until 2005 both spellings were accepted, but now the new spellings are the only officially acceptable ones.

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