How do you pronounce 'René', a German male given name, in German?

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Stassri

Member
Korean
I have to transcribe a German male's name into my native tongue.

His name is written 'René', as in 'René Descartes', except it's a German first name.

My German knowledge is very shallow, so I'd like to ask you about the most idiomatic way of pronouncing the name spelled as above in German, preferably in IPA symbols, please.

For what it's worth, I'm not interested in the phonetic values of the consonants, as they clearly correspond to some phonemes in my native language. I'm more interested in knowing the values of the 2 vowels.

I found two webpages on the Internet, which offer recordings of this name by German speakers:

René pronunciation: How to pronounce René in German, French, Czech
How to pronounce rene: German HowToPronounce.com

The 2 vowels which follow 'r' and 'n' respectively sound distinct to my ears in the 2 recordings on the Forvo page. On the second webpage, however, the 2 vowels sound somewhat similar to me in the first recording, but they sound like 2 distinct phonemes in the second recording from that page.

On another forum, I posted the same question asking if [ʀəne], which is my guess from listening to the recordings from the pages above, is the correct transcription for this name in German, but a native German speaker told me it's incorrect, and the correct version would be [ʀe:'ne:].

In his correction, the 2 vowels are identical, but this is not what I hear from some of the recordings, so I wonder if they are allophones...

So can someone confirm his correction, and hopefully explain why the 2 vowels sound different to my ears?

Thanks.
 
  • Demiurg

    Senior Member
    German
    I found two webpages on the Internet, which offer recordings of this name by German speakers:

    René pronunciation: How to pronounce René in German, French, Czech
    How to pronounce rene: German HowToPronounce.com

    The 2 vowels which follow 'r' and 'n' respectively sound distinct to my ears in the 2 recordings on the Forvo page. On the second webpage, however, the 2 vowels sound somewhat similar to me in the first recording, but they sound like 2 distinct phonemes in the second recording from that page.
    I pronounce it like the second recording (slin) on Forvo. The first vowel is short the second long. It's closer to [ʀə'ne:] than to [ʀe'ne:].

    "René" is originally a French name. Hence the pronunciation in German may be more or less close to the French pronunciation.
     
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    Pflaenzchen

    Member
    German
    most Germans I met (including myself) pronounce it quite different from the french original:
    we do not make any difference between the two "e" in the name.
    both sound the same as in "Tee", "Zeh", "Weg", "Gelee", "Klee"...
    - only the melody of the word indicates the stress on the second syllable, first part being spoken on a low, second on a high 'musical note'. (Don't know, how to describe that phenomenon better :) )

    however some pronounce the first one a little different, slightly like "ö", but not as strong as the French do. So that would be o.k, too.


    the two versions (plus, as a third, the correct french pronunciation, which is used by a few - not so many - German speakers in Germany, too) might be preferred in different regions of Germany and also in some regions can also be a slight hint, but an unimportant one, at social 'class'. and also can be just a personal preference :)
    -> You are very free in choosing here.

    I could not listen to your samples yet, I am sorry for that and for not using IPA symbols.
     
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    Pflaenzchen

    Member
    German
    Ok, I managed to listen to your examples now. You are completely right, all of them make a difference between the two vowels.

    I would say
    - Forget Forvo-user slin's pronounciation, that is the least German, it sounds very much (too strong "ö" ) like the original French, that is seldom(ly?) used here.

    - Forvo-user Vortarulo presents ANOTHER normal, regional variant that I had not thought of in my above comment, that is common and o.k. too (first "e" more - little bit - like "ä" )

    - the example on "howtopronounce.com" sounds a little strange, unclear, with a touch of some "ö" (relatively common, as I said in my first comment) and some "a", which sounds strange to me.

    - and the person who 'corrected' you was right, too. In the sense, that in German names an "e" in the first syllable very often is pronounced "Tee-Zeh-Gehweg-Gelee-Reh-e" - for example Georg(ine), Hedwig, Regine, Regina, Leberecht, Peter...
    (There are exceptions, like Helga - "ä" :-((
    )

    René so for very many people is the same (pronounciation, not stress), and correctly so.
    while others like to give a little hint to the French origin.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hi, it must depend on region.
    In my area (Dresden, Saxony) it is spoken:
    First syllable short ren like in rennen. [ˈʀɛnən]
    second syllable long or very long, stressed and in a higher tone, like "Tee". [teː]

    So it is in IPA: [ˈʀɛneː] - as far as I understand IPA, I am not fluent with it. It is near a "schwa" sound. [ʀə'ne:]

    My wife says that the [ˈʀeːneː] Pronunciation (with two long and high "e:" is used in the North. (As desribed by Pflänzchen with Zeh-Gehweg-Gelee-Reh-e) I never spoke it this way.

    In my area the "e" in Zeh-Gehweg-Gelee-Reh-e" is very different in the different words.

    Zeh, Gehweg, Reh have the same "long e"
    Gelee [ʒəˈleː]
    rhymes to René [ˈʀɛneː] in my area. The second "e" in "Rehe" is a "schwa"-sound. [ʀeːə]

    Wiktionary:
    Gelee – Wiktionary
    IPA: [ʒeˈleː], [ʒəˈleː]
    As you see in Wictionary both pronunciations in the first syllable are available.

    So I speak René similar to #2 (Demiurg) [ʀə'ne:]

    PS:
    Georg(ine), Hedwig, Regine, Regina, Leberecht, Peter... - in my area these words can be set into two groups:

    1. Georg(ine), Hedwig, Leberecht, Peter [...e...]

    2. Regine, Regina [ˈʀə...] or [ˈʀɛ]
     
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