Fake German Pronunciation of English Words

Following up on the quote of the day: Sometimes I have to pronounce English words while speaking in German, to a German.  This can happen when I order a "Singapore Sling" in a bar, or talk about a "public viewing" of a soccer game football match.  Or, when driven to extremes by late-night hunger, and the only place open is a Subway shop, which offers "Turkey Breast" or "Italian B.M.T." sandwiches.  To make myself understood, I have to pronounce these English words with a fake German accent.  Otherwise, I get blank looks.  It’s creepy, I tell you.  Even creepier is having to pronounce my last name — which is a German word — the way Germans would pronounce it, instead of pronouncing it in the flat, nasal American way I learned it.

Maybe you can file this under ‘experiences native English speakers should have more often.’

8 thoughts on “Fake German Pronunciation of English Words

  1. Creepy indeed. But just as bad vice versa. In Chicago, nobody knew what I referred to with Volkswagen when pronounced properly. On the local ‘German Christkindl market’, I tried to order Glühwein and Thüringer (Bratwurst) – didn’t work either… At the same time, after 5 years overseas, now my German friends regularly laugh at me for pronouncing things like “computer” or “keyboard” in a funny way, so I see what you’re saying… But it gets worse: Imagine a German living in Mexico, pronouncing English words with a fake Spanish accent (“Me puedes traer un Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger, por favor?”). That’d be me today…


  2. well.
    hohoho, big american, big taco bell, big christkindl guy,
    whaddaya reckon’ : let me tell you one thing, this is usually a great blog.
    so why go and ruin this with some kind of rubbish about ” pronouncing these English words with a fake German accent.”
    get over it you sad git. here in the UK we get on with all accents, welsh, cockney, irish, whatever. every time i get blank looks from punjabi, turkish, arab or whatever kebab salespeople – i just point at the picture on the menu and i just get fucking on with it.
    maybe youse americans need more “diversity lessons”, as not to feel judgmental about it, eh?


  3. Alex, what’s with the effing and blinding? Sorry, Mary Whitehouse standards police in action, nothing to see, move along… And this is a great blog.
    It’s true, though, in another way as well – pronounce English words in the English (as in “proper”) manner, and a whole generation raised on badly done Americanisms will just think you can’t actually speak English. Flädräd, anyone?


  4. I had a similar experience at a University in Ireland. During a seminar on the first world war, only an “english” pronounciation of german words like “Reich” “Kaiser” or more complex terms like “Dolchstoßlegende” would be understood.


  5. I have met the problem that sometimes you have to pronounce it German (“Raider” (now Twix) pronounced “rider”) but then they laugh at you for pronouncing “Nuts” as “noots”!


  6. I was once corrected by a cashier at the McDonalds in the Frankfurt train station for ordering a Happy Meal in German. I pronounced it “Happy Meal”, with the ‘a’ in ‘happy’ sounding like the ‘a’ in ‘package’. The clerk corrected me and insisted it is called a ‘Häppy’ or ‘Heppy’ Meal here. Good to know…

    And yes, great blog!


  7. I encounter a similar problem: as an English teacher to-be I often know and use the correct pronunciation(or rather, the more correct as I will never speak English without a slight German accent)and I always feel the awkwardness of the moment…


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