[German] Two sounds -- how similar?

Nicholas Fowler nbfowler at gmail.com
Sat Oct 30 00:24:14 UTC 2010

They are not the same. The main difference is a characteristic of vowels
called "rounding" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundedness).

German <er> is closest to IPA [ɐ] (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-open_central_vowel) when unstressed, e.g.

But when stressed, as with "g*er*n", it's more like [er]
[e] = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close-mid_front_unrounded_vowel

German <ö> is basically IPA [ø] (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close-mid_front_rounded_vowel). With an [l]
afterwards, it's still [øl].

You can see by looking at a standard IPA vowel chart, though, that [e] and [ø]
are almost the same sound--both are close-mid and front, the only difference
is that [e] is unrounded, and [ø] is rounded.

Another thing to add is that [r] and [l] both belong to a phonological class
called "liquids" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_consonant) because
they share similar characteristics.

I hope this helps explain the similarity you are perceiving!


On Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 4:57 PM, Jason Dusek <jason.dusek at gmail.com> wrote:

>  Consider the "öl" in "Köln" and the "er" in "gerne".
>    gerne
>    Köln
>  Are these two sounds the same? Are they very similar?
> --
> Jason Dusek
> Linux User #510144 | http://counter.li.org/
> _______________________________________________
> German mailing list
> German at lists.noisebridge.net
> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/german
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