German – a language that is easier than its reputation

German has a rather bad reputation as a language that is very difficult to learn. However, there are rules for pronunciation and there is a relation to the English language that helps you to make a good guess on the correct meaning of words, like in German Milch and English milk. So here is a quick introduction to German.

German has quite a bad reputation as a very hard to learn language with strange sounds. While heavy metal bands used the German "Umlaute" ä, ö, ü to give their band's name a special touch these letters are not that strange. Ä is the combination of the letters a + e, ö of o + e and ü is the combination of u and e.

So German Bär and english bear do sound quite similar.

The vowels in English bird and nerd sound similar to ö like in Rhön or Möhre .

Y in Crypto and synthetic sound like ü in German (e. g. hübsch, Tüll, Übung).

So you don't have to be afraid of German Umlaute. And if you are Irish or a Scotsman you propably know the sound of -ch-. Loch for lake and Dach for roof share the same sound at the end.

As an irish teacher for English said to me once when I claimed German is a difficult language to learn: "It is not because it has rules." And that is true. If you know how to pronounce each letter of the German alphabet you will be able to prounce almost every German word correctly.

English for example does not follow rules. Flood, food, foot – the double o is pronounced differently everytime. Boot, Moos, Zoo – double o is always pronounced as long.

Elonging sounds in German is the part of the language that does not follow one certain rule. Hier some examples how to stretch the sound of a vowel in German:

Viel – e is used to stretch the vowel

Stuhl, Mahl – h is used to stretch vowel

Fuß, Spaß – ß, which is a ligature of s + z, stretches the vowel

However, there are some regional varieties. Troisdorf and Soest are German cities. Here the vowels are stretched by other vowels. But do not bother, Germans have their difficulties to pronunce these names correctly, too.

Something that always astonishes speakers of other languages, maybe with exception of Hungarians, is the possibility to create words as long as you want. Mark Twain wrote an article about that. I think he did not like the German language that much. Here one example for a very long word in German:


that is

Danube steam shipping electricity main works construction company civil servants company

But again, don't be afraid, such long words are uncommon. But a word like Unfallversicherungsgesellschaft (Accident insurance company) can occur in your daily life. To cope with that start to read words like this from the end and devide it into the words it is made of.

Unfall - verischerung - gesellschaft

company for accident insurances

That makes German more to a puzzle or riddle that to solve can be real fun.

So come on now, give it a chance and learn this beautiful language that can be really fun.

Zwei Trichter wandeln durch die Nacht.

Durch ihres Rumpfs verengten Schacht

fließt weißes Mondlicht

still und heiter

auf ihren


u. s.


Christian Morgenstern, Der Trichter aus Galgenlieder

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