Words I can’t Pronounce in German

squirrelThey say that after a certain age, a person loses the ability to pronounce certain parts of a foreign language. That means, unless you start learning a second language from when you’re a kid, you’re always going to sound like a foreigner and there will always be some words you just can’t get right. Here are ten of mine:

  1. Eichhörchen

The German word for ‘squirrel’ is basically impossible to pronounce. I could repeat it all day and it still wouldn’t come out right. However, it makes me feel a bit better that Austrians can’t pronounce the English ‘squirrel’ either.

  1. Handy

Handy is the German word for ‘mobile phone’ and in fact is not tricky at all. You pronounce it exactly as you would say the word in English. The problem is, when I try and say what I think of as a standard English word in amongst a German sentence, it just twists in my mouth and appears with a weird accent. Wrong!

  1. Balkon

It’s just Balcony without the ending – but somehow this one never comes out properly. I have fond memories of my German teacher constantly correcting me on this one… not!

  1. Kurs

Another one that seems like it should be easy, the German word for ‘course’ – but the oooh or uuuuh or öoöu sound always gets me confused.

  1. Kuchen

Ah, the dreaded ‘ch’ sound. It is devastating that I can’t say the German word for ‘cake’ properly, but I, like many others, always over emphasise the ‘ch’ into a hard sound when it should be soft.

  1. Hӧren

The ö kills me every time.

  1. Apfelsaft Gespritzt

My favourite (non-alcoholic) beverage (apple juice with fizzy water) is a bit of a tongue-twister for me and whenever I order it my tongue ends up stumbling and stuttering – luckily I can say it just well enough to be understood.

  1. Nase

The German word for ‘nose’ is confusing because I think it should be said the same way one says ‘nasal’ instead of how it should be said, which is with more of an ‘r’ sound – Nar-sey. To get this one right I actually think of the word ‘nasal’ in my head to remind myself of how not to say.

  1. Ich

The German word for ‘I’ is so commonly used and so commonly misspoken. Especially by me. I am always forgetting and saying ‘ick ick ick’ instead of ‘ich ich ich’.

  1. Wichteln

It may only come around once a year but nobody understands me when I say the German word for ‘Secret Santa’. In my vigorous attempts to pronounce the ‘ch’ and the ‘ln’ I usually end up spitting too – charming.

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