The dangers of German mispronunciation

Most of my neighbours are enjoying the warmer weather and spring flowers that are starting to come out in the gardens. But not me.

Springtime heralds the start of the annual warmer weather which makes me sweat. Not because of the heat, you understand. Because of my sheer terror when it comes to discussing the temperature with Germans.

My problem is that I cannot for the life of me pronounce the difference between the German words schwul and schwül. I know one of them means warm muggy weather and the other one means gay. But mid conversation…I’m damned if I can ever remember which is which. And I always end up saying the wrong one.
In my panic as I search for the right word, I’m prone to make another obvious faux pas. Will I remember to say “Mir ist heiß” or will I blurt out “Ich bin heiß” by accident? The former means that I’m feeling the heat, the latter that I’m on heat and I’ll start humping your leg if you don’t sit up and take notice.

Not something I actually want to say to the bloke next door.

Of course I’m relieved to find out that the Germans have their own misunderstandings among themselves. Not the same ones as me. But the German regional accents lead to unusual pronunciations and inevitably the sort of gaffes which I assumed until recently only I was capable of.

Take this clip for example, showing how a simple Ossi word is so easily misunderstood by the Wessi craftsman.


Filed under German language, German video

12 responses to “The dangers of German mispronunciation

  1. heh. this one hits close to home.

  2. That is perfect! I’m afraid that my vain attempts at German, while living in Berlin, were always dealt with by the Germans with a lot of laughter…and firm correction! LOL

  3. Funny, I made the same mistake with pronunciation last fall when I was in the Vaterland…I admire anyone who goes to live in a new country and has to learn the language. Christina sent me to visit, nice blog…ciao

  4. Patricia

    Cathy, this is so true, I always had trouble with schwul/schwuel. I lived in Germany for 10 years in the 80s/early 90s and am now in Budapest for 3 years. I have access to German tv channels and am discovering how to speak German in the 21st century, after 15 years in Canada. I am now hooked on “Alles Was Zaehlt”, learning how the cool kids talk! (Not to mention how to be deliciously sarcastic in German, courtesy of Simone!) By the way, I also came here via Mausi! P.

  5. Ha ha – Baguette Böden!

    I finally figured out a way to remember the difference between Schwul and schwul but it’s very weird. The umlauts remind me that men have two of something that women don’t have, but since gay men are different from heterosexual men, they get the *other* word, not the one with the umlaut. It’s insane, I know, but it works for me. 🙂

  6. Oops, I guess umlauts don’t show up in WordPress comments. That should be Schwul and schwuel.

  7. Great, just great. Something ELSE to look forward to in Germany. I just moved here in December. Found you via “mausi.” I’ve added you to my bloglines subscriptions. Congratulations on your book. Wondeful!

  8. I have the schwul/schwül problem too. And for the life of me I cannot pronounce Küche and Kuchen properly!

  9. Jul

    I basically avoid using the words schwul or schwuel, much like I avoid directly addressing a person when I’m not sure if I should be using Sie or du. 🙂

  10. The video is hilarious.

  11. Reblogged this on Joy to the World and commented:
    Ich liebe Deutsch. I love German.

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