Five of the Week #20

“You can hear it in my accent when I talk…I’m German” – well, it was something like this, wasn’t it? Anyways, Germans have problems (and sometimes a terrible accent) when talking in their second language. But so do others. What I find quite remarkable however is the fact that we tend to “germanize” words we adopted from foreign languages. Maybe doing so the words don’t feel too strange anymore. I don’t know. What I do know are some of the words we “germanized” by pronouncing them in a funny or strange way. Well, here they are (or at least some of them).

1. Bonbon
This is a french word which, translated literally, means good-good. The ‘o’ is a nasal vowel and the ‘n’ is not pronounced. German people tend to neglect these facts. Actually we add and substitute letters (m and g) so that Bonbon becomes Bombong.

2. Chillen
“Chillen” derives from the English word “to chill”, the ‘-en’ showing that it’s the infinitive form of a German verb. I guess I don’t have to explain how it’s pronounced in English, do I? However, many Germans (especially older people but also many teenagers) pronounce it like ‘shillen’ (the ‘sh’ is pronounced like the ‘sh’ in “shift” or “ship”).

3. Container
Another English word Germans use to pronounce in their own way as we usually say “Contähner”. The ‘ä’ sounds like the ‘a’ in “bad”. So, just say “bad” and stretch the ‘a’ for a second or two, then try to pronounce the ‘ai’ in “container” the same way. It’ll sound quite strange.

4. Thriller
This is one of my favorite words. A lot of people, not only from Germany, have problems pronouncing the ‘th’ so that “thriller” becomes “sriller” (the ‘r’ can be pronounced in a German way too).

5. Psycho…
Take any word containing ‘psycho…’ and you’ll see that in English the ‘p’ is silent – in German it isn’t. However, we Germans tend to substitute the ‘Ps’ by a ‘Z’ which we then pronounce like ‘Ts’. Consequently, ‘psycho…’ becomes ‘tsycho…’.


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