Tag Archives: pronunciation

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.

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