pronunciation: gesundheit

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  • TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    What daviesri said. Keep in mind that the g is "hard," like gh in Italian. Also, the first syllable can sound more like "guh".

    Saluti, comb!

    Elizabeth
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    combustion said:
    Thank you both!
    So, it has the german pronunciation in America too, isn't it?
    Well, as close as we can get. ;) Come to think of it, I've never actually heard it pronounced by a German. Do you pronounce it that way in Italy, too?

    Elizabeth
     

    combustion

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    In Italy it doesn't exist... we say "salute"! But I don't know if I will be able to pronounce a German word in the English way... It is a lot if my Italian pronunciation of English words sounds comprehensible !
    bye, comb...
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    In case you're interested comb, it is also pronounced the German way in Australia.
    ("No-one is ever interested to know how Australians say or do anything" he mutters to himself as he goes to make himself another cup of tea. "Who cares what we think? We have a population of over 20 million people, living on the largest island of the planet and no-one gives two hoots........" He wipes his eyes with the corner of his sleeve as two large tears fall into his cup of tea and splash over onto his keyboard.)
    Just joking comb. :D
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I have heard "Gesundheit" uttered by Americans (in films, not in real life) but I don't recall it being uttered by a Brit before so I can't comment on how we would pronounce it. The German way too I suppose.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    timpeac said:
    I have heard "Gesundheit" uttered by Americans (in films, not in real life) but I don't recall it being uttered by a Brit before so I can't comment on how we would pronounce it. The German way too I suppose.
    The closest approximation to a German pronunciation would be
    guh-zunt-hite. [consonants are unvoiced at the end of a syllable].
     

    Tabac

    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    TrentinaNE said:
    Well, as close as we can get. ;) Come to think of it, I've never actually heard it pronounced by a German. Do you pronounce it that way in Italy, too?

    Elizabeth
    I was at a concert hall (very small and very crowded) in Vienna a few years ago. The woman next to me sneezed, I said "gesundheit"; she then proceded to rattle off in German as if I were a native speaker. I'm not. In fact, I had used up just about all the German I knew in that one word.
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    Yes, the 'u' is pronounced as in German, or like the vowels of 'put' and 'could'.

    It's a regular part of American culture to say it in response to someone sneezing near you. I wonder if German speaking people do it themselves. I guess so, because how else would Americans have picked up the practice but from the many German immigrants that came in the 1800's?

    In America, it seems to be well intentioned. But when you think about it, there is a strong chance it started out as a sort of mockery. Americans borrowed only a few words from German that weren't food words (kindergarten, dumb). We did not borrow the exclamations Germans use for congratulation, for endearment, for praise. We borrowed just one word of social intercourse, the one you use when someone sneezes (replacing "bless you!"). We don't use it in response to anything except sneezing, not even for coughing. Thus the possibility that the borrowing was originally done in the spirit of sarcasm. Just speculation. But consider also *how* Americans say "gesundheit!". They shout it fast (as if to echo the noise and suddenness of a sneeze) and they grin while they're saying it. Why do they grin? Does it represent sharing a joke with the sneezer, or does it represent embarrassment?

    So maybe you'll agree there's something sinister about Americans saying "gesundheit!".
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Brioche said:
    The closest approximation to a German pronunciation would be
    guh-zunt-hite. [consonants are unvoiced at the end of a syllable].
    That's the way I've always heard it.
     

    CAMullen

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I think "Gesundheit" is simply the German word for "soundness," and that this is the equivalent of the Italian for "health" - "salute." From what I've heard, people in most cultures respond to a sneeze with some well-wishing term while not doing so when someone coughs. I've heard the practice dates back to the time of the black plague, when a sneeze foretold something terrible that was about to happen to the sneezer. I'll bet that's the most sinister connotation of "Gesundheit," etc., etc.
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    DaleC said:
    We borrowed just one word of social intercourse, the one you use when someone sneezes (replacing "bless you!"). We don't use it in response to anything except sneezing, not even for coughing. ...

    So maybe you'll agree there's something sinister about Americans saying "gesundheit!".
    There's always the Jerry Seinfeld substitute expression when someone sneezes: "You're SOOOO good-looking!" ;)

    Elizabeth
     

    I.C.

    Senior Member
    D
    Brioche said:
    The closest approximation to a German pronunciation would be
    guh-zunt-hite. [consonants are unvoiced at the end of a syllable].
    There also is "guh-zund-hite", which I would prefer unless I'm shouting across the street.

    “Gesundheit” – health. I would believe as an exclamation it is a wish (or an appeal to those who may be able to grant it), “health to you!”
     

    Lancearoni

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    CAMullen said:
    I think "Gesundheit" is simply the German word for "soundness," and that this is the equivalent of the Italian for "health" - "salute." From what I've heard, people in most cultures respond to a sneeze with some well-wishing term while not doing so when someone coughs. I've heard the practice dates back to the time of the black plague, when a sneeze foretold something terrible that was about to happen to the sneezer. I'll bet that's the most sinister connotation of "Gesundheit," etc., etc.

    In the united states, people say "bless you" after someone sneezes much more often than they say "gesundheit." At least in my experience, anyway
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    Lancearoni said:
    In the united states, people say "bless you" after someone sneezes much more often than they say "gesundheit." At least in my experience, anyway
    Very interesting -- it could be regionally restricted. And timpeac's suggestion that it was inspired by listening to Yiddish speaking Jews, also very interesting!

    I'm from Philadelphia and people say "gesundheit" there, although not necessarily exclusively. And people say it in Seattle, too -- at the opposite end of the northern USA.

    In fact, when I lived in Seattle, I gave a small group of people my lecture about how Americans are being unconsciously condescending when they sprinkle Spanish words into their speech. (This is an insight I achieved on my own about 1980, and this year, I found out that a linguist who's a Puerto Rican holds the same view and published it about 1990!) My statements struck a chord in a 20 year old woman whose mother is a German "GI bride". The woman said, "Yeah, now that you mention it, when people say 'gesundheit!', you think of snot!" (For the benefit of "Combustion", the member from Italy who started this thread, "snot" means "moccio".)
     
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