The Sounds of Modern German

The following table gives the sounds of Modern German in a form suitable for advanced learners. No claim is made for the phonemic status of any of the sounds, but it should be noted that they are nevertheless presented in an idealized form, omitting a great deal of phonetic detail. Not all sounds occur in all positions, e.g. [ŋ] does not occur in word-initial position.

Stress is on the first syllable unless otherwise marked by a small superscript vertical line before the stressed syllable, e.g. Genie [ʒeˑˈni:] "genius".

Vowels Consonants
[i:] as in Bienen [bi:nən] "bees" [p] as in Pein [paɪn] "pain"
[ɪ] as in binnen [bɪnən] "within" [b] as in Bein [baɪn] "leg"
[e:] as in hehlen [he:lən] "to hide, fence" [t] as in tanken [taŋkən] "to fill one's tank"
[ɛ] as in hellen [hɛlən] "bright" (oblique case) [d] as in danken [daŋkən] "to thank"
[ɛ:] as in wählen [vɛ:lən] "to choose" (See note 1.) [k] as in Kasse [kasə] "cash desk"
[a:] as in raten [ra:tən] "to advise" [g] as in Gasse [gasə] "narrow street"
[a] as in Ratten [ratən] "rats" [f] as in feste [fɛstə] "firm, fast" (plural)
[u:] as in Mus [mu:s] "pulp" [v] as in Weste [vɛstə] "wasitcoat"
[ʊ] as in muss [mʊs] "(he/she) must" [s] as in fließen [fli:sən] "to flow"
[o:] as in wohnen [vo:nən] "to live" [z] as in Fliesen [fli:zən] "tiles"
[ɔ] as in Wonnen [vɔnə] "raptures" [ʃ] as in schon [ʃo:n] "already"
[y:] as in fühlen [fy:lən] "to feel" [ʒ] as in Genie [ʒeˑˈni:] "genius"
[ʏ] as in füllen [fʏlən] "to fill" [ç] as in weich [vaɪç] "soft"
[ø:] as in Höhle [hø:lə] "to cave" [x] as in Buch [bu:x] "book"
[œ] as in Hölle [hœlə] "hell" [m] as in Miete [mi:tə] "rent"
[aɪ] as in heilen [haɪlən] "to heal" [n] as in Nase [na:zə] "nose"
[aʊ] as in Maul [maʊl] "mouth, gob" [ŋ] as in lang [laŋ] "long"
[ɔʏ] as in Leute [lɔʏtə] "people" [pf] as in Pfahl [pfa:l] "pole"
[ə] as in Stelle [ʃtɛlə] "place" [ts] as in Zahl [tsa:l] "number"
[l] as in lachen [laxən] "to laugh"
[ʀ] as in Rachen [ʀaxən] "throat"
[h] as in Haken [ha:kən] "hook"
[j] as in ja [ja:] "yes"

Notes

  1. Historically, this is a spelling pronunciation, and for many speakers this sound coalesces with [e:] so that [ve:lən] will also be heard.