University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Appendix: Vowels

Table 4 The vowels of German that are different from those in English.

segment

spellings

minimal pairs differing in quality

minimal pairs differing in quantity

[yː]

, ,

[byːnə] ~ [biːnə]

~

‘stage’ ~ ‘bee’

[fyːlən] ~ [fʏlən]

~

‘to feel’ ~ ‘to fill’

[ʏ]

,

[mʏstən] ~ [mastən]

~

‘had to’ ~ ‘masts’

[dʏnə] ~ [dyːnə]

~

‘thin’ ~ ‘dune’

[øː]

,

[løːzən] ~ [leːzən]

~

‘to solve’ ~ ‘to read’

[høːlə] ~ [hœlə]

~

‘cave’ ~ ‘hell’

[œ]

[kœnən] ~ [kɛnən]

~

‘to have the ability to’ ~ ‘to know’

[ʁœslaɪ̯n] ~ [ʁøːslaɪ̯n]

~

‘small horse’ ~ ‘small rose’

[ɐ]

[ʔoːpɐ] ~ [ʔoːpa]

~

‘opera’ ~ ‘grandpa’

/

Table 5 The vowels of German that are similar to those in English.

segment

spellings

minimal pairs differing in quality

minimal pairs differing in quantity

[iː]

, ,

[fiː] ~ [feː]

~

‘cattle’ ~ ‘fairy’

[ʔiːnən] ~ [ʔɪnən]

~

‘them’ ~ ‘inside’

[ɪ]

[kɪstə] ~ [kʏstə]

~

‘box’ ~ ‘coast’

[mɪtən] ~ [miːtən]

~

‘in the middle of’ ~ ‘to rent’

[eː]

, , , ,

[leːgən] ~ [liːgən]

~

‘to lay’ ~ ‘to lie’

[ʃteːlən] ~ [ʃtɛlən]

~

‘to steal’ ~ ‘to place’

[ɛ]

[hɛft] ~ [haft]

~

‘book’ ~ ‘confinement’

[deːn] ~ [dɛn]

~

‘the’ ~ ‘because’

[ɛː]

,

[gɛːbə] ~ [geːbə]

~

‘would give’ ~ ‘to give’

[fɛːtɐ] ~ [fɛtɐ]

~

‘fathers’ ~ ‘cousin’

[aː]

, ,

[haːzə] ~ [hoːzə]

~

‘bunny’ ~ ‘pants’

[ʃtaːt] ~ [ʃtat]

~

‘state’ ~ ‘city’

[a]

[mɔtə] ~ [matə]

~

‘moth’ ~ ‘math’

[zaːt] ~ [zat]

~

‘crop’ ~ ‘full’

[ə]

[maːlə] ~ [maːlɐ]

~

‘paint’ ~ ‘painter’

/

[oː]

, ,

[boːt] ~ [beːt]

~

‘boat’ ~ ‘bed’ (garden)

[zoːlən] ~ [zɔlən]

~

‘soles’ ~ ‘should’

[ɔ]

[tɔxtɐ] ~ [tœçtɐ]

~

‘daughter’ ~ ‘daughters’

[ʔɔfən] ~ [ʔoːfən]

~

‘open’ ~ ‘oven’

[uː]

,

[guːtɐ] ~ [gyːtɐ]

~

‘good’ (Adj.) ~ ‘goods’ (N.)

[muːs] ~ [mʊs]

~

‘puree’ ~ ‘must’

[ʊ]

[mʊtɐ] ~ [mʏtɐ]

~

‘mother’ ~ ‘mothers’

[ʃpʊkən] ~ [ʃpuːkən] ~

~

‘to spit’ ~ ‘to haunt’

Table 6 The diphthongs of German.

segment

spellings

example

[aɪ̯]

, ,

[faɪ̯n] ‘fine’

[aʊ̯]

[maʊ̯s] ‘mouse’

[ɔɪ̯]

,

[fʁɔɪ̯də] ‘joy’