Min menu


How to make a German accent?

How to make a German accent?

If you are an actor, you may find yourself auditioning to play a German character. In this case, you will need to modify some basic consonant and vowel sounds to make your speech more authentically Germanic (although you don't actually speak German). More importantly for English speakers, the German language has no "w" or "th" sounds. Try to keep your mouth compact and closed, and speak mostly with your lips. Doing this will help elevate your vowel sounds to match German pronunciation.

1. Modification of consonant sounds

1. Change the "w" sound to the "v" sound. German does not have a "w" sound, and you will seem unauthentic if you make this sound when trying to speak in a German accent. For example, pronounce the word "water" as "vater". Or, if you mean you "want to blow your whistle," say it like, "I'll brag about checking my vistle." 
  • Change the pronunciation of "w" even if it is in the middle of a word. For example, "jewelry" with a German accent would look like "jevelry".
  • If a word already contains a "v" - like "veterinarian" - you can pronounce it as you normally would.

2. Articulate the letter "s" as a "z" when it appears in a word. When using a German accent and encounter words with an "s" in the middle, change the sound to "z". For example, if you say the word "also" with a German accent, pronounce it as "alzo". Of course, this is somewhat rare, as "s" is used most often at the end of English words. .
  • When the letter "s" appears at the end of a word, do not change it to its "z". For example, the word "whistling" should sound the same whether or not you use a German accent. Don't say "hiz".

3. Speak a German "r" by gargling it slightly at the back of the throat. It is a little difficult because the sound does not exist in English. The German “r” sound is similar to the English “gh” or “rh” sound, but takes place far in the back of the throat. Try to pronounce the "r" at the top of your esophagus, roughly where you gargle. The sound of aword like  "rabbit" should sound like "hrabbit" or "ghabbit".
  • As another example, the English word "run" should look like "hrun" or "ghun".

4. Form the German "h" sound far down your throat. In the same way, as when you pronounce "r" with a German accent, the letter "h" should be slightly rolled or gargled at the back of the throat. If you have trouble understanding this sound, try emitting a soft "g" before saying the letter "h". So the word "hair" would look like "hghair".
  • To put it a bit roughly, the German "h" sound mimics the sound you would produce if you tried to spit in the back of your throat.

5. Speak consonant sounds with the tip of your tongue. This will harden the consonants. When a word ends in a soft consonant, German speakers tend to make the sound harsh and abrupt, unlike English. Harden your consonants shortening the sound of the consonants and making it more abrupt at the back of your throat. Soft consonants include "g", "d" and "b".
  • Thus, words like "pug", "loud" and "cub" should be pronounced respectively, "puk", "lout" and "cup".
  • Keep in mind that these changes in consonants can be confusing. For example, "loud" and "lout" are both English words but have very different meanings.

2. Modification of the pronunciations of the vowels

1. The long vowel of the voice rings high in the back of your mouth. English speakers are used to pronouncing most of the vowel sounds quite low in the throat. This is more visible with the long "a" sound but applies to all long vowel sounds. When using a German accent, pronounce the long "a" more like a short "e". To get this effect, tighten your throat slightly and pronounce the sound "a" from the back of your mouth.
  • For example, the word "cat" will sound like "kit" or "ket". The proper name "Kate" should be pronounced as "Ket".

2. Pronounce the short "i" as an "e" sound. In the same way as long vowels - and especially the long "a" - the short sound "i" should be pronounced higher in the back of your mouth. The intonation of this vowel sound must also become a little more nasal than in English.
  • For example, the words "winter" and "different" both use the short sound "i". With a German accent, they would sound like "veenter" and "deferent".

3. Pronounce the double "oo" as a short "u". In a word like "book", the English sound "oo" is pronounced relatively deep in the throat. To change your speech to a German accent, squeeze this vowel sound so that it looks like a slightly nasal "u" ​​sound. Try to keep your mouth relatively closed when you pronounce this sound with a German accent.
  • For example, words like "wood", "cook" and "taken" would be pronounced "vud", "cuk" and "tuk" respectively.

3. Editing letter combination sounds

1. Pronounce the English sound "th" as an "s" or "z". German speakers never pronounce the sound "th" as English speakers do in a word like "this" or "that". In German, the "th" sound becomes flattened into a less complex "z" or "s" sound. You can choose between any of these sounds when you change the "th" sound. Or try both and see what works best for you.
  • To pronounce "this" as "zis" and pronounce the word "thick" as "sick" or "zick".

2. Articulate the combination of letters "ng" with a sound "k". This most often occurs in English in the perfect present, when many verbs take an "ing" ending. To pronounce these words with a German accent, delete the sound "ng" and replace it with a "k". Thus, "think" and "wish" become "thinkink" and "vishink".
  • If it helps, think of it as swallowing or barely expressing the "ng" sound. You can also see a change from the soft “g” sound to a much harder “k” sound.

3. Say the “dg” sound so that it looks like a “ch” sound. In English, "dg" emits a weak "j" which occurs mainly at the back of the mouth. To take a German accent, push the sound forward and up in your mouth so that it is pronounced with your tongue against the roof of your mouth. The resulting sound should resemble the English “ch” sound.
This sound usually occurs in English words like "judge". When you pronounce this word with a German accent, it will sound like a “nudge”.
  • As another example, the word "German", when spoken with a German accent, should look like "cherman".