The Sound of German

In the past two years, I have had the exact following conversation around 57 times:

Someone: Where are you from?

Me: I am originally from Germany, but …

Someone: Oh, from Germany?!! There is this really funny video on YouTube …

Me: [Sigh.] I know that one already.

Someone: … where they compare the sound of German …

Me: Yes, I know which one you mean. Everyone mentions that to me.

Someone: You have to watch it! It’s really funny!

Me: I have seen it often enough, thank you, and it’s really not that funny.

Someone: Kraaaaaankenwaaaaagen! [rolling with laughter]

Me: [being unimpressed/tired/annoyed]

You know which video I am talking about. It’s this silly stereotyped video which was not even particularly funny the first time I watched it.

I kept pointing out that German can actually sound quite agreeable when I speak it and that we aren’t really shouting and screaming all the time. Actually, after living in Malta and in Bari, I can say for certain that there are countries/regions where people shout much more. We can probably add some Middle Eastern and at least one North American country to that list.

Anyway, finally someone got around to making a more nuanced, neutral, scientific comparison between German and a few other languages:

Granted, comparing anything with Hungarian or Latvian skews the playing field a bit.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Germany, Language. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Sound of German

  1. Dorothy says:

    made my day,hi hi

  2. deeess says:

    I have had similar experiences.
    Them: Where are you from?
    Me: South Africa.
    Them: Where is that?
    Me: In Africa.
    Them: Yes I know, but where?
    Me: In the South.
    Them: But whats the country called?
    Them: I know where it is, but WHAT IS IT CALLED?
    Me: That is its name!
    Them: Oh. But you can’t be from Africa, you’re white!
    Me: Please excuse me, I need to go shoot myself, I’m ashamed to be human right now…

    • Hahaha!
      And it’s so annoying when t happens again and again and you know exactly what their next question/reaction will be.

    • deeess says:

      I guess people like that are there to remind us of how important reading is. Or not reading, for that matter!

  3. List of X says:

    Since I’m not German, I found both videos funny.
    And in my experience, when people find out that I’m from a different country, they ask, hey, I know another guy from the same country, do you know him?

    • You must be from a small country or from one that people think is small or that they don’t know anything about.
      Where are you from?

  4. sahar says:

    Yes but unfortunately the Germans I met have a tendency to be “always right”, so they never talk like this!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Having actually lived in France and Germany, I find German infinitely more melodic. Both languages sound much cuter when an American speaks it (somehow they all sound very Spanish). Italian though is on another hierarchy on its own. Italian just oozes romance and seduction, and makes the mundane icks of everyday life disappear. They are truly blessed with the gift of the Sirens’.

    • I find Italian a very beautiful language, but some Italian speakers are too theatrical (or simply just too loud) for it to be enjoyed.
      French on the other hand is my favorite. To me, it always sounds elegant, even if people are just talking about which train ticket to buy.
      I also enjoy the sound of most Latin American Spanish and I hope I will learn it soon, now that I am in Bolivia.

    • Fred Prendergast says:

      You Germans get a lot heat for nouns frequently going through agglutination. However, I’ve known many French folks and their characteristic elision makes a whole sentence sound like a single word. Somehow, that’s “sexier”….

    • And in fairness, the agglutination beyond two words is something that most learners of German won’t come across most of the time. Words like “Staatsangehörigkeitsrechtsänderungsgesetz” are mostly used by lawyers and bureaucrats.

  6. Dany Serrano says:

    Disculpa, pero también me ha parecido divertido y el segundo también. Lo que si me quedo claro es que las palabras son bastante largas en relación a otros idiomas, también me llama la atención que se usan reiteradamente sílabas sin vocales intermedias, cosa que en el español se resume en pocas ocasiones. Ambos vídeos son exagerados ja ja.

    • Si, eso con las palabras largas es verdad. Hay palabras más largas en aleman que una mensaje en Twitter.
      Yo trabajo como traductor por ingles y aleman. Normalmente, el texto en aleman es 30% más largo que lo en ingles.
      Lo sin vocales es peor en muchas lenguas del Europa Oriental. En checo, hay frases como “Strč prst skrz krk.” Eso me pone miedo! Pero sin embargo tengo que aprender ruso siguiente.

    • He encontrado una frase más larga sin vocales en checo: “Chrt zdrhl z Brd. Vtrhl skrz strž v tvrz srn, v čtvrť Krč. Blb! Prskl, zvrhl smrk, strhl drn, mrskl drn v trs chrp. Zhltl čtvrthrst zrn skrz krk, pln zrn vsrkl hlt z vln. Chrt brkl, mrkl, zmlkl. Zvlhls?”

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