Introduction: How to Type and Talk With a German Accent

Picture of How to Type and Talk With a German Accent

I know, I know...we've all been in that situation where we had to pass for a German tourist, ex-GSG9 operative, or foreign exchange student from Bavaria.  When you have to convey this via writing it's even more difficult because you obviously have to type how you talk, and I know I'm not the only one who can say he's lost a significant other or two because I lapsed in my German accent during an email.

Fear no more!  Inside these pages you will learn to express your false Teutonic heritage with pride while developing fluent German language accent skills comparable to any found in a Mel Brooks movie.  I will build upon each rule and use them in subsequent rules until we are writing in a fluent German accent!

Step 1: W's Are for the Veak

Picture of W's Are for the Veak

Rule 1: Pronounce all "W's" as "V's"

In German,  the letter "w" is pronounced as a "v," as in "was" or "wehrmacht."  Carry this over into your English for a significant impact.  Vat this does is start to add a Germanic flavor to your speaking.  Use it only vere you pronounce the "w" in English; you vouldn't use it for vords like "write" or "wriangle" but you vould for "we," "webster," "war," and "was." 

Rule 1.1: "Wh" is just "v"

For vords vis a "wh" write it simply as "v."  "What" is vat, not vhat.
 

Rule 1.2: No two letter words

For vords like "we" make it "vee."  No two-letter vords!

Now vee vill go to the next step.

Step 2: Now Zees Sings Get Vierd.

Picture of Now Zees Sings Get Vierd.

Rule 2: Pronounce "th" as either "z" or "s"

In linguistics, the "th" phoneme (smallest unit of sound) is an alveolar fricative (sound caused by friction of air)  with two sounds: voiced and unvoiced.  The voiced "th" is found in words like "this," "that," "another," and "those."  The unvoiced version is heard in words like "thing," "pith," and "thought."

Rule 2.1: Voiced "th" is "z"

Using zis rule, "this" becomes "zis" and "that" becomes "zat."   Using Rule 1.1: No two-letter words, "the" is "zee." 

Rule 2.2: Unvoiced "th" is "s"

Zis is anozer important rule.  Zee vord "thought" becomes "sought" and "things" becomes "sings."  Are you seeing how zis goes?  Getting zee hang of zees sings?

Try to be mindful of zee times ven zee pronunciation is different.

Step 3: A Fery Fital Rule for Fictory

Picture of A Fery Fital Rule for Fictory

Rule 3: Use "f" in place of "v"

Here vee simply replace all instances of "f" vis zee "v" sound. "Oven" is written and heard as "ofen" and "very" is "fery." Are zere ozer vords zat start vis or contain "v" zat you can sink of?

Gif it a shot!

Step 4: Shpot Shpecific Shpelling Shpots

Picture of Shpot Shpecific Shpelling Shpots

Rule 4: Vords starting vis "st" and "sp" are changed

Pay special attention to vords zat start vis "st" and "sp."

Rule 4.1: "sp" becomes "shp"

Zere are some vords zat start vis "sp" like "spin" and "spot." Vords like zees zat start vis "sp" should be typed "shp" so it vould be "shpin" and "shpot," respectifely.

Rule 4.2: "st" becomes "sht"

Zese vords are fery common like "stop," "stay," and "store." Zey vould be pronounced "shtop," "shtay," and "shtore," respectifely. Zere are some shpecific pronunciation for zees vords, as vell, and are cofered in zee next section.

Step 5: Shhh, Pay Attention

Picture of Shhh, Pay Attention

Rule 5: "Sh" sounds contain a "ch" sound

Vis vords zat shtart vis "sh" form your mous so zat you make a "sh" sound at zee same time as a "ch" sound. Zis is written as "sch" and can be applied to Rule 4.2 and Rule 4.3 as vell.
Using zis rule, "shop" is typed "schop" and "shoot" is "schoot" vile "spot" and "store" from our prefious rule can be written "schpot" and "schtore" for more ausentic German flafor.

Step 6: You Are Sinkink "Vat Is Zis Schtinkink Sink?"

Picture of You Are Sinkink "Vat Is Zis Schtinkink Sink?"

Rule 6: Gerunds get schpecial attention

In English, a gerund is a ferb ending in "ing." In our German accent, vee vill copy and say zees endings as "ink." In zis example, "ending" is seen and hear as "endink" and "spinning" is "schpinnink."

It adds a fery schpecial touch if you heafily aspirate zee "k" at zee end.

Step 7: Learnen Sie Das Commands!

Picture of Learnen Sie Das Commands!

Rule 7: Commands use an explicit "you"

In Englisch, zee imperatif mood of a ferb contains an underschtood "you." For inschtance, "Go to the store" is underschtood as "You go to the store" and "Listen!" is underschtood as "You listen!"

Rule 7.1: Add "en" to command ferbs.

Unless zee ferb already ends in "en" (like listen), vee muscht add an "en" to zee end of zee ferb. Zee command ferb "bring" is "bringen" while "speak" is "schpeaken."

Rule 7.2: Add an explicit "you" to zee command

In our accent schpeak, vee muscht say zee "you" in a command. However, vee use our native German "you": the word "sie" (pronounced "zee"). Using zee ferbs from Rule 7.1, zee command "Bring the book" vould be "Bringen sie book." The imperatif "Pay attention!" is "Payen sie attention!"

Rule 7.3: Add an explicit article in front of zee object of a command

Extendink our Rule 7.1 and Rule 7.2, vee come up vis zis schpecific rule. Use zee German article "das" (translated: the) in front of zee object of zee command. Usink our prefious examples, "Bring the book" is now "Bringen sie das book" and "Pay attention" is now "Payen sie das attention!"

Zee Rule 7 rules are fery fery important for creatink a rich, ausentic German accent.

Step 8: Optional Rules

Picture of Optional Rules

Here are some optional rules zat you can schprinkle in your emails and schpeach.

Optional Rule 1: Replace hard "c" with "k"


Anywhere you see zee letter "c" that is pronounced as a "k," go ahead and replace zee "c" vis the letter 'k."  For inschtance, "article" is "artikle" and "cross country" vould be "kross kountry."  Don't do it vis zee soft "c" like found in zee vord "lice."

Optional Rule 2:  Use zee "t" sound for vords endink vis a "d"


Ven you see a vord zat ends in "d" like in zee vords "and," "found," and "blind," replacen sie das "d" vis "t."  So, "and" is heard and typed "ant" vile "found" is "fount."

Step 9: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

Zee next schteps for you is to praktice sie das rules as often as you kan.  Only after much praktice vill you attain zee schpecial schtatus of "Fluent German Accenter."  I hope zat zis instruktable vas helpful to you and, as alvays, I velcome komments unt suggestions.  Feel free to sended sie das email or fint me on sie das IRC as nevdull.

Tschüß!
-gian

Comments

Quantiik (author)2015-11-23

I am french,
And I have not laughed like zis for a fery fery fery long time !
Thank you for zis incredible moment ! :D

nevdull (author)Quantiik2015-11-24

Salut Quantiik,

Thank you for the kind words and for leaving feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm working on the French one next; maybe you can give me some tips ;)

Cordialement,
Gian

Quantiik (author)Quantiik2015-11-23

The aticle was really well written ! When you used the points seen just before, etc... That made me laugh and with the examples !

Great job

traceep (author)2014-07-03

Okay, so this is FANTASTIC! I need to have a German accent (sort of a bad one, actually) for a play I'm doing, and the only accent help available is mostly for "real" accents, if you know what I mean. This was exactly what I needed--and fun, too! Thank you so much, and I do hope you also create those instructables on French and Mexican accents!

nevdull (author)traceep2014-08-31

Thank you so much for the nice words! I'm glad that you were able to find my humble instructable on getting that over-the-top german accent (zat iz, zee ahsoritiez..). Hope you were able to use it and have fun with it!

Thanks for the comment!

DustBunny (author)2012-09-29

I luf zee pikturez. Zis ist fery fun!

nevdull (author)DustBunny2012-09-30

sanken sie das ferry much meinen freunden!

Elvenwishes (author)2017-01-01

My late Dad was German and I can relate to this so very well when my so called friends use to make fun of my accent. My Mum who is Dutch she even sounds like this I guess being married to my Dad and speaking German most times. You made me laugh that is for sure.. :)

24225 made it! (author)Elvenwishes2017-11-19

I'm so sorry for your loss. but that makes me happy about the happiness you got from the article and how its funny

iandude (author)2017-11-18

For Rule 3, the text should read:

"Here vee simply replace all instances of
"v" vis zee "f" sound"

imeh7640 (author)2017-10-24

Thank you d so much! I have a theater class and I'm in a competition with a lot of other schools and in my script I have do multiple accents.

ValerieW48 (author)2017-04-24

Thank you; this is so helpful!

flaminbacca (author)2017-03-30

YAY I learned something new and interesting!!!

Chillyconmor (author)2017-03-05

Zank you so much for zis tutorial! Now I can impress my friends with das new accent.

nevdull (author)Chillyconmor2017-03-05

Gehen zee unt konkor dee velt!

xzavier (author)2017-02-27

This is fantastic! Thank you.

BERABOSA (author)2017-01-26

Hhh woww its amazing! And funny though. And-ant hhh cant stop laughing!!! ??but it is very helping thanks. Can you help us wis all the german alphabet? Both vowels and... And their pronounciations of course. Thank you again

GlitchySoul (author)2017-01-04

Ich bin deutsch und das ist unglaublich genau, wie wir klingen, während wir Englisch sprechen. Gut gemacht!

Translation: I am German and that is incredibly accurate to how we sound while speaking English. Great job!

But seriously man, you pointed out things that I didn't even catch even when I'm German myself! Soo awesome job on this!

Ellie and JuneP (author)2016-07-09

This is great. I needed an over the top German accent for a writing I'm working on. Thank you!

CrystalC74 (author)2016-05-28

I'm writing a story on Wattpad so this was extremely helpful!

AlyssaC20 made it! (author)2016-05-26

Thenk Sie vor making zis!

Scarlet Devil (author)2016-05-22

I thought "and" was written and pronouced "und".

MeganC48 (author)2016-05-16

Love this! How would you write wolfe? Volfe?

Kenne-leeG (author)2016-05-09

does are remain the same?

nevdull (author)Kenne-leeG2016-05-10

Hi there,
I'm not sure I understand your question. If you mean does the letter "r" remain the same in the accent then I can say there are a couple of ways you can play this. In a period of a few decades, the German language underwent phonotactic change from trilling/rolling the "r" to more of an flip. I had an old German nanny for a few years and when I speak German my friends say I sound like an old person. So, especially when it's letter-initial like in 'rucus' you could really throw out a sharp roll with a snappy emphasis.

Now, if you are talking about the word "are" then you'll probably have to explain what you're asking again.

Hope this helps.
-gian

ValorieD2 (author)2016-04-23

Thank you! This is so easy to understand! I reenact WWII stuff so this should be neat to add some authenticity to my impressions. :)

Kavipso (author)2016-04-21

Thank you - your rules are extremely clear. I'm writing a musical and I'm working on a funny scene i which I want the lead character to speak with a thick German accent - did not know how to put specific directions for the actor. Now I have it! Thank you! But because I am a bit greedy - do you have similar posts for Irish and Southern U.S. accents? Please let me know. Thanks.

I

AleciaL (author)2016-02-07

I am learning a German accent for a play. This has been most helpful.

cvsmint (author)2016-01-25

This is super helpful. A couple questions - for rule 5, you said it's words that START with the sh sound get changed. .. schtop, etc. But later you say "muscht" and "inschtance", so does that mean it's not just words that starts with those sounds? But rather anytime those sounds come up? How would you say dishonest?

My other question is how would you say the word "sorry".

Emre A (author)2016-01-10

I am Turkish and I have a relative at Germany. Now I have better german accent then her! Danke!!

Mattbohl2133dawg (author)2015-12-23

Hey! I alvays vish I had a German aktcent und now I kan kind ov get von. But I vas vonderink, could you tell me how the "ou" ist pronounced in zee vord "you" ant zee "or" sount ist in zee vord "vord"

RobertN40 (author)2015-10-26

I have a character with a thick German accent. Does anyone know of a generator that I could type in and translates to German accent

nevdull (author)RobertN402015-11-24

Using these rules, a simple parser should be capable of doing this. If interested in writing one I would support that.

JacobB39 (author)2015-10-18

Okay, as a native german speaker, this actually helped me to write better english too.

SabrinaN1 (author)2015-09-29

Sehr schön. Es ist ein guter Weg, um mit den grundlegenden. :)

Cece2488 (author)2015-08-04

ich bin Deutsch und das ist eine Schande für me n my Land

erika.chester.7 (author)2015-03-29

Fielen Dank! I just used your post to hep prepare a karacter I'm doing in a theater--Oh, einshundigen-ein teater klass. I used to live in Germany and had several goot chuckles reading this.

nevdull (author)erika.chester.72015-07-28

That is so awesome! I hope the character went over well!

Can you give me some tips for German Accents Please, I Need To Learn It For a school play sorry for disturbing you

alex.m.frankel (author)2015-01-15

Hi I grew up speaking with a German eksent ent the most important thing you forgot was the "a" sound in the word "back." We say "beck" because we kennot pronounce the very difficult "a." Thenk you.

nevdull (author)alex.m.frankel2015-07-28

This is awesome info. Thanks for sharing it!

hermas.matte.3 (author)2015-02-08

I schtumbled upon zis, vile lookink for fery great detail on German accents. Zis has gonen abofe unt beyond my expectations.

nevdull (author)hermas.matte.32015-07-28

vell i don't know vat to sprechen. Danke fur das kinden worts!

kaylaleighann.cox (author)2015-03-02

Another one is to replace the word 'and' with 'und'

Yes, totally, although I might change "und" to "oont" :)
Thanks for your comments!

Dragonemm (author)2015-07-01

This was really helpful, I am writing a story and have a character with a German accent. This was exactly what I was looking for, thanks!

nevdull (author)Dragonemm2015-07-27

Heyas, I'm glad its working for you. Thanks for the kind words and your comment!

billbillt (author)2015-05-16

great

emilybethshore (author)2015-02-02

how about the words that start with 'y' like you or your? They're similar in tone to words that start with w' so just 'vondering' if you's begin with a v or anything too

michael.redfield.96 (author)2014-12-02

Hello nice tutorial. Very informative. I would also recommend adding replacing "and" with "und". So according to one of your previous rules it would pronounced as "unt".

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Bio: Gian is a computational biologist and is the Managing Director at Open Design Strategies, LLC. He holds a BA in Molecular/Cellular Biology and an ... More »
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