final -r pronunciation

alc112

Senior Member
Argentina Spanish
Hi!! How are you?
My teacher taught me that the final r's are pronounce like r's, for instance: wir, vier, etc
But in my school it's taught that final -r's are pronounce like an "a".
so, I want to know which pronunciation is more used.
well, my teacher is old, she lived n Germany but many many years ago.

Danke schön!!
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    alc112 said:
    Hi!! How are you?
    My teacher taught me that the final r's are pronounce like r's, for instance: wir, vier, etc
    But in my school it's taught that final -r's are pronounce like an "a".
    so, I want to know which pronunciation is more used.
    well, my teacher is old, she lived n Germany but many many years ago.

    Danke schön!!
    In some dialects, the "r" is always pronounced. In standard German (Hochdeutsch), however, the correct pronunciations are "wi-a" and "vie-a."
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    elroy said:
    In some dialects, the "r" is always pronounced. In standard German (Hochdeutsch), however, the correct pronunciations are "wi-a" and "vie-a."
    This might not be accurate enough, but you could mostly compare it to the schwa sound in English "sir", although there's still a difference. :)

    In my dialect, you usually don't pronounce the final "R", it sounds more like the English final "R" a bit deeper in the throat than, for instance, North Germans pronounce it (i.e. as described in your book). ;)
     

    angeluomo

    Senior Member
    US English (German/French)
    In most varieties of German, the "R" is hushed up and swallowed and tends to sound like an "A". Thus, "hier" would sound like "hia". There are some regional dialects, however, where the "R" becomes guttural like an "H" or a "CH", and in others, the "R" is rolled.

    Hope that helps
     

    MrMagoo

    Senior Member
    Westphalia, Germany; German
    The final r-sound is usually transcribed with an upside down "a" in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
    The English sound which is very close to it is the one you have in "butter", but unstressed!

    Basically, it depends on the sound which is precediing the final r:

    In the endings
    -er
    -i(e)r
    -or
    -är
    -ör

    the sound equals a slightly pronounced "a"
    while in

    -i(e)r
    -ur
    -ür

    it rather sounds like a Schwa-e.


    The more North you go, the more common is the sound "a", also for the -i(e)r, -ur, -or endings.
    In the South, people tend to pronounce a final "-r".
     

    Tino_no

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Hello everybody, I always tend to compare the german "-er" with the sound of the british english "-er" Eg: Ever= Ev-a
    Is that correct?

    Saludos!
     

    MrMagoo

    Senior Member
    Westphalia, Germany; German
    alc112 said:
    It's agood questions, tino
    It would be very helpful to know this so that we can make a more aproximate sound :)
    As I've already mentioned:
    You can compare the German -er sound with the English "u" in butter, but unstressed. This would be the sound which is closest.

    The English ending -er as in ever is pronounced like a Schwa-e rather, the sound that occurs also in German Tante or Englisch ago.

    You will be understood well if you pronounced -er like [a], but you should avoid pronouncing it as a Schwa-e, this could lead to confusion or misunderstandings.

    Hope I could help you out.
    All the best
    -MrMagoo
     

    Albert 50

    Senior Member
    Canada: French and English (bilingual)
    Hallo Freunde

    I have a question regarding the standard pronunciation of "er" at the close of a word. I've read totally contradictory statements made by "experts"....

    Several books and pronunciation guides state that final "er" is vocalized (in words like "bitter" and "Mutter") creating a sound like a short "ah". One guide states unequivocally that final "er" is pronounced very much like final "er" in British English (where a final "er", as in the English word "bitter", is indeed pronounced very much like "ah"). One book states that German children, while learning to spell in the early years of school, will often spell words like "Mutter" with a final "a" (i.e. "Mutta") because that is what they "hear".

    But just today I read a different pronunciation guide which states almost adamantly that the "r" in a final "er" should not be vocalized and is always clearly sounded. Otherwise, they warn, German speakers will misunderstand you. They state that words like "bitte" will tend to be mistaken for "bitter" if the "er" in the latter word is vocalized. They insist that "bitter" should be pronounced "bit-air" with a clear "r" at the end (a German "r", of course).

    It all leaves this humble student "in the fog". Am I caught in a linguistic battle between "experts" who insist that only their position is correct?

    Vielen Dank fuer Eure Hilfe.

    Albert
     

    Toadie

    Senior Member
    English
    It's pronounced like "bit-air" (although to be honest, it sounds more like a slurred together "bitt-ay-uh"). You will almost never be misunderstood, because of context. There are homophones in German just as there are in English, and you should know that there aren't TOO many problems in English caused by homophones.

    For example:
    "Dieser Wein ist bitter." Obviously, no one is going to hear that as "This wine is please," because that doesn't make sense.

    It's a similar occurrence with sentences like "Die Milch trinkt das Kind." Technically it could be understood as "The milk drinks the child," but someone who is even somewhat familiar with German structure would almost NEVER interpret it that way.
     

    LBL

    Senior Member
    Brazil, Portuguese
    That's also something I always wanted to know. Is it also possible that a word that ends with just an "e" (no "er" therefore) to be pronounced with an "a" as in the british pronounciation of "ever" ("eva") but a little shorter ? I'm pretty sure I've already heard some Germans pronouncing such words in this way.....

    Until now it's been discussed here whether the "er" in the end of certain words should be pronounced as "a" or as "r". But what about when the "er" stays in the middle of a word ? For instance : "außerdem" is pronounced in "Hochdeutsch" as "außadem" or as "außerdem" ? And what about words with a "h" between the "e" und the "r", such as in "verkehr" or "mehr" ?

    And what happens when a certain word has practically no other Syllable but "er" ? For example : "er", "der", "leer". Should be added an additional "a" in the end ? So, "er" would be pronounced as "ea", "der" as "dea" und so on.... ?

    Ok, now on to my last question. What should be done when a word contains the particle "or" ? In other words, how are such words as "vor" and "bevor" pronounced ?

    Thanks in advance !
     

    Toadie

    Senior Member
    English
    1.) To my knowledge, the words "mehr" and "das Meer" (sea) are homophones, both pronounced similarly to "maya".

    2.) "Er" is pronounced similarly to something like "äa", where the /ä/ and the /a/ are two different sounds.

    3.) "Vor" is pronounced somewhat like "fooah".


    Keep in mind, that these *exact* sounds differ from any of those in American English, which is my native language, thus it is kind of difficult to explain. Just listen to Hochdeutsch, and you should get the idea.
     

    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    And what happens when a certain word has practically no other Syllable but "er" ? For example : "er", "der", "leer". Should be added an additional "a" in the end ? So, "er" would be pronounced as "ea", "der" as "dea" und so on.... ?
    Yes, "-er" is [e:ɐ] when the syllable is stressed (or if it's the only syllable in the word), and [ɐ] otherwise (as in "bitter").
    But what about when the "er" stays in the middle of a word ? For instance : "außerdem" is pronounced in "Hochdeutsch" as "außadem" or as "außerdem" ?
    The same rule applies: [aʊsɐ'de:m]
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    That's also something I always wanted to know. Is it also possible that a word that ends with just an "e" (no "er" therefore) to be pronounced with an "a" as in the british pronounciation of "ever" ("eva") but a little shorter ? I'm pretty sure I've already heard some Germans pronouncing such words in this way.....

    ...
    This is true.
    In daily speech, you can hear many variants. In some cases, I would speak the "r" just in this way:

    "immer" -> imma, Hammer -> Hamma (it is very similar to the pronunciation of such words (ever, ...) as I heared them spoken by William Hartnell in the first Doctor Who series.)

    And, like in English, the used pronunciation depends on the region.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    But just today I read a different pronunciation guide which states almost adamantly that the "r" in a final "er" should not be vocalized and is always clearly sounded. Otherwise, they warn, German speakers will misunderstand you. They state that words like "bitte" will tend to be mistaken for "bitter" if the "er" in the latter word is vocalized. They insist that "bitter" should be pronounced "bit-air" with a clear "r" at the end (a German "r", of course).
    Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is out of touch with reality. If you want to pronouce the word clearly you hear the e distinct from the vowalized r: bittea. There should be no room for confusion with bitte.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Hallo Freunde

    I have a question regarding the standard pronunciation of "er" at the close of a word. I've read totally contradictory statements made by "experts"....

    Several books and pronunciation guides state that final "er" is vocalized (in words like "bitter" and "Mutter") creating a sound like a short "ah". One guide states unequivocally that final "er" is pronounced very much like final "er" in British English (where a final "er", as in the English word "bitter", is indeed pronounced very much like "ah"). One book states that German children, while learning to spell in the early years of school, will often spell words like "Mutter" with a final "a" (i.e. "Mutta") because that is what they "hear".
    As a non-native I would say that the above description is correct. However, why worry about what books say? Why not listen to native speakers and decide for yourself?

    In the end, any text description of how words sound is pitiful in contrast the actual sound of fine native speakers. Some people prefer listening to radio or TV, but I prefer book recordings. Fine narrators speak more slowly and are more likely (in my opinion) to pronounce words more carefully.

    Gaer
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    I suppose, it is no problem for German speakers, but may be the book Albert mentioned refers to native English speakers speaking German. In this case it might be good advice. It might be easier to recognize it in this way - if you cannot avoid the English accent.

    Originally Posted by Albert 50: One book states that German children, while learning to spell in the early years of school, will often spell words like "Mutter" with a final "a" (i.e. "Mutta") because that is what they "hear".
    This is the way I speak "Mutter" when refering to my mother. If I refer to a Mutter (the nut to screw on a screw) - I would speak it more like "Muttea". It may reflect this effect.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    I suppose, it is no problem for German speakers, but may be the book Albert mentioned refers to native English speakers speaking German. In this case it might be a good advice. It might be easier to recognize it in this way - if you cannot avoid the English accent.
    Hutschi, which book are you referring to? I hope not to the one that says this:

    But just today I read a different pronunciation guide which states almost adamantly that the "r" in a final "er" should not be vocalized and is always clearly sounded. Otherwise, they warn, German speakers will misunderstand you. They state that words like "bitte" will tend to be mistaken for "bitter" if the "er" in the latter word is vocalized. They insist that "bitter" should be pronounced "bit-air" with a clear "r" at the end (a German "r", of course).
    Please believe me that this is horrible advice. If it is important to make a differentiation between "bitte" and "bitter", "bit-air" is the kiss of death for an American, and it's not even very helpful for someone who speaks standard BE.

    Again, learning to pronounce words by reading how they should sound is insane. Once upon a time that was the only way people could attempt to learn, on their own. It was nearly that bad for me, thirty years ago. Today it's just not necessary. Anyone who is serious about learning to speak German has countless ways to hear German. Trying to learn how to speak a new language without listening is as silly as trying to learn to play an electric piano/keyboard with the power turned off.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    If it is important to make a differentiation between "bitte" and "bitter",
    This is really important.
    While I speak "bitte" similar to "bittä", I can speak "bitter" like "bitta" or "bittea" - this is not IPA, I cannot write or read IPA using this computer.

    A problem is it is not easy to declare what I mean. I gave the pronunciation with German letters, as I suppose it is done on the text, mentioned by Albert.

    (This is the only what makes sense - given the examples.)
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    This is really important.
    While I speak "bitte" similar to "bittä", I can speak "bitter" like "bitta" or "bittea" - this is not IPA, I cannot write or read IPA using this computer.
    No matter how important the difference between "bitte" and "bitter" is to natives, even if you represent the difference with IPA, it's horribly inaccurate compared to hearing the difference. :)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    You might have a look how old the book is which states that vowelization of -er were wrong. If it is older than, say, 1950 it might make sense. German stage pronunciation requires proper pronunciation of the r (it even requires the alveolar trill but that is a different matter). In the first half of the 20th century stage pronunciation was considered the model for proper neutral German. Today it just sounds old fashioned and artificial much like RP English.
     

    LBL

    Senior Member
    Brazil, Portuguese
    First of all, thanks for the replies.

    Actually I had forgotten to ask a question that I've been wondering about for quite some time. So, can I conclude from all that has been written here that words with the end "ern" (ärgern, for instance) should be pronounced somewhat like "an" ?

    Thanks.
     

    Kuestenwache

    Senior Member
    German-Germany
    Pretty much. You will find a lot of different regional pronounciations, but "eagan" would be the most common way to pronounce ärgern. This is because of the for my tast rather dry vowelisation of the r in german. My tipp is to watch german videos or listen to german audio files on the net or where ever else you can get hold of material like that. This method helped my work on my english pronounciation really well, although it might be slightly more difficult the other way.
     
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