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The V in German sounds like the F in English; Most of the time the S in German sounds like Z in English when placed at the beginning of a word followed by a vowel. Click either here or on the sound icon on the left to hear four pairs of German words which display the distinction between the two German sounds. Variant and derived forms. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. The German consonant 'z' is pronounced in the same manner as the English 'ts' sound that is found at the end of words such as 'cats', 'lots' or 'sits'. The letter ß will never appear at the beginning of a word. Once non-German speakers familiarize themselves with German’s different sounds, however, another kind of poetic beauty will unfold before them that has been revered worldwide in the works of many German greats, such as Goethe and Schiller through prose and song. "sharp S"), represents the /s/ phoneme in Standard German, specifically when following long vowels and diphthongs, while 'ss' is used after short vowels.The name Eszett combines the names of the letters of s (Es) and z (Zett) in German. in German studies. Learners of German often have difficulties in distinguishing between the letter 'z' and 's', particularly when they occur at the start of a word. That may be due in part to the more guttural pronunciation of certain German alphabet sounds and diphthongs and perhaps even a still lingering effect of old WWII movie stereotypes. Let’s start with the basics. Click either here or on the sound icon on the left to hear a native speaker say eight German words which all contain the German letter 'z'. Below is a table of the German numbers from zero to 100. The W in German sounds like the V in English, The V in German sounds like the F in English. The temptation to pronounce the sound like an English letter 'z' must be resisted - the German 'z' is only ever pronounced as an English letter 'z' in a few imported words such as 'das Quiz'. German Numbers from 1-100. The German alphabet ends with z. A further difficulty for English speakers is that a large number of German words begin with the letter 'z' and thus require an initial /ts/ sound. The letter ß will never appear at the beginning of a word. In some Antiqua typefaces, this letter is present as a standalone letter or in ligatures. The German alphabet has 26 letters, 3 umlauts (Ä,Ö,Ü) and one ligature (ß). German has its own phonetic spelling code used to avoid confusion when spelling words on the phone or in radio communication. The temptation to pronounce the sound like an English letter 'z' must be resisted - the German 'z' is only ever pronounced as an English letter 'z' in a few imported words such as 'das Quiz'. The words themselves are supplied in the box below along with their English translation: Go to the index of the German pronunciation guide. Note how the sounds are all pronounced in the same manner as the English letters 'ts', regardless of where the letter 'z' appears in the word. German has often been viewed by non-Germans as a harsh sounding language. A glyph variant of Z originating in the medieval Gothic minuscules and the Early Modern Blackletter typefaces is the "tailed z" (German geschwänztes Z, also Z mit Unterschlinge). We are unused to starting words with such a sound in English, as the only word that begins in such a way is the 'tsetse fly'. The German Consonant 'z' . Most of the time the S in German sounds like Z in English when placed at the beginning of a word followed by a vowel. Listen to the pronunciation of the German letters. Ingrid Bauer, who is fluent in German, has been teaching and tutoring the German language since 1996. Click on the following letters to hear them pronounced. Click either here or on the sound icon on the left to hear four German words which contain the letters '-tz' in medial and final position. Several letters are pronounced more from the back of the throat: g, ch, r (though in Austria the r is trilled). By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Unique Characteristics of the German Alphabet, German for Beginners: Pronunciation and Alphabet, German Spelling With a Double S or Eszett (ß), How to Type German Characters on Your Computer, Learn the Colors, and Colorful Expressions, in German, Helpful Online Resources for learning German, How to Type German Characters on a Keyboard, Learn the German Lyrics to '99 Luftballons', Animal Sounds in German With English Translations, creative, Celcius (soft c sound in German sounds like, no equivalent nor approximate sound in English, The pronunciation of some of these letters do not exist in the English language. (Audio saved as .wav files.). She has a teaching degree and an M.A. In German orthography, the grapheme, ß, called Eszett (IPA: ) or scharfes S (IPA: [ˈʃaɐ̯fəs ˈʔɛs], [ˈʃaːfəs ˈʔɛs], lit. is pronounced /z/ only at the beginning of words (Sonne) or at the beginning of syllables (Trense) or between vowels (Riese). The German consonant cluster '-tz' is also pronounced in the same way as English 'ts'. In Standard High German (other than some southern dialects of German) [z] (voiced alveolar fricative) is an allophone of [s] (voiceless alveolar fricative) when it occurs in the onset of a syllable, that is you will never find a [s] in the beginning of a (phonological) word. Elsewhere it is pronounced /s/. Take a few minutes read through it, … The German consonant 'z' is pronounced in the same manner as the English 'ts' sound that is found at the end of words such as 'cats', 'lots' or 'sits'. To the index of the German consonant cluster '-tz ' is also in! 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