The harsh German language

There’s a famous video about the German language
and how it compares to others, and it got quite a lot of attention
when it was first published. You know the one. It goes like this: Because the German language is really harsh, right? Well of course, that is the joke.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. For example: Yes, you can make anything harsh if you want to. But the joke — and it is a joke —
plays on a stereotype. And this stereotype does exist.
Is there any truth to it? If we want to be honest, the main reason
we have this stereotype is probably Hollywood. From the Nazi villains of the concentration camps to the terrorist mastermind of “Die Hard”, Germans are frequently cast as the bad guys. So! Of course! They speak like this! Or maybe… they speak like this. But is there something about the German language
itself that sounds harsh? Well, there’s the “CH” sound
you hear in words like: But you don’t actually have to pronounce them
like a cat coughing up a furball. You see? German also seems to have an abundance
of “K”, as in: “knicken”. But again, you don’t have to
make a meal of it: “knicken”. And in the German language it’s normal
to pronounce words clearly and distinctly. In English, the words tend to run into each other. In German, words are pronounced separately. Well, yes, if you are very
careful with your pronunciation. In real life, most Germans in general conversation
do speak a little more fluidly.

100 Replies to “The harsh German language

  1. Even though the "ch" sound and the "k" sound that you do are smooth, they are really hard for romance languages speakers to learn! (I say romance language speakers, but I have experience mostly with portuguese native speakers, but I imagine that it can be equally hard for other romance languages)
    The "ch" sound doesn't exist at all in portuguese, and people often have a hard to time to learn it and make it sound natural; and the "k" sound exists only before a vowel, so it is a tendence that portuguese speakers uses unnecessary vowels after these sounds (some portuguese speakers would say "kinicker", as if it had an /i/ sound after the "k"). But, of course, anyone can speak correctly and softer after some practice, but for people that never had any contact with german, it sounds a little bit harsh, even if it is not spoken by a hollywood villain!

    But I do admit that after learning a bit of german, Deutsch ist sehr schön! Eine der schönsten Sprachen der Welt!

  2. Verry funny to see you turning the point of harshness. Every time again I'm amazed by your perfect pronounciation.

  3. There is almost no language that is as close to German as English… and you can make that (English) sound harsh as well. Actually you can make EVERY language sound harsh, juist as he tells.

  4. +rewboss
    This Schmetterling issue reminds me of a german fary tale called "Lindling und Schmetterwurm" ^^
    In the story a Schmetterling/butterfly and a Lindwurm/dragon exchange the first part of their names because they think it doesn't suit them.
    "Schmetter" means something like "smash" which the butterfly is unhappy with and "Lind…" means something like "gentle" that the dragin doesn't like to be part of his name. So when they met they exchange that parts of their names.
    From that point on the butterfly called himself Lindling/gentle thing and the dragon himself Schmetterwurm/smashing worm.

  5. Ka parvalat po? Pumba, neji panga ajako ung, wakimu-sa! Nji mempa, ako dewalang sakisarsa nga po!

  6. If German is not ugly it's at least weird compared to others. Doesnt matter how softly you try to pronounce it …just admit it. ;D

  7. similar phenomenons happen in South Korea. In fact, North Koreans talk quite calm, but most South Koreans believe that North Korean sounds ugly and nasty because of their news(or dumb propaganda)

  8. Personal opinion about German language, Before 10 years I try to learn german, it was the most hard and meaningless thing that ever try to do. This language is totally harsh and even hard to hear. The only thing that a remember is that the chair was male and the sausages female, totally confusing.

  9. As someone new to German I honestly find certain some Spanish and Italian dialects much more grating than the soft, cosmopolitan German dialect of places like Berlin and München… totally agree…

  10. On the subject of whether German sounds harsh, I once saw a clip of Albert Einstein reading a statement in German and it sounded gentle and sweet.

  11. Ja , Das Natzi Deutsch ist bin. Obwohl, Neoundegentesdeutch is bin nicht "harsche". Lol ich bin jetzt lernen im bisschen Deutsch spreche. Like I tried learning it like it was harsh for me at first but later on I can manage to speak it properly, just a lil bit.

  12. Thanks for this. I have been trying to explain this for years. If you listen to Germans speaking regularly, German is a very soft and comforting language.

  13. Some years ago I have been living and working in Jamaica (an English speaking Country), and people told me, that it sounds like "tuschkuschtusch" when I was talking to another German. On the other hand, listening to an Amerikan, especially southerner, it sounds to me like a squaking of a frog. The Scottish dialekt sounds to me most comfortably and understandably of all English. Further (Iknow a little spanish) the Spanish spoken in Cuba sonds to me like Latin with a machine gun, extremely hard. Italian however sounds very familiar and very easy to pronounce to me.

  14. It may also be that Deutsch and Dutch get mixed up. Take the name of the Dutch footballer Ruud Gullit for example. Or the nice drink Genever, all pronounced with a sharp ch in the beginning.

  15. I do think tough.
    That the Language is Hard on the Butterfly example ^^

    Thing is the Wordcombination used.

    I mean.
    Come on.

    Schmettern would mean Crushing 😛

    Butter Fly.
    Which would be interpreted as something as a Soft Winged Fly 😛

    Meanwhile the German Word.

    Crusher-ling 😛 (ling is an ending used to describe things as cute or small)

    Would be interpreted as something like.
    Small Crusher xD
    Or Baby Crusher xD

    In that regard the German choice of what word to use here somehow seems Harsh

  16. Your "mariposa" sounds too Italian. There shouldn't be any intonations, and the s shouldn't be a voiced /z/.

  17. Papillon


  18. haha seems that YT-user "ElectroBOOM" played with your homes electrics ^^

  19. I heard Dutch (and more particularly Flemish Dutch, which I speak) sounds more aggressive than German because of the abundance of harsh sounds and short vowels.
    (lots of t,k,p,f,s)

  20. Honestly without the hitler shout stereotype the German language is harsh. Harsher that romansc languages

  21. I like sounding evil muahahaha… jk, but still, i don't think it helps bust the stereotype that Rammstein is the most popular german band xD

  22. Some Brits seem to think it's polite to shout some incoherent German at you to make you feel at home … or something. Though that is probably better than the Brits that have no concept of a second language.

  23. Michael Ende hat dazu ein nettes Gedicht geschrieben, denn dem Lindwurm geht es ähnlich, er ist nämlich nicht "lind" :

  24. Man, Cool videos!
    I paused here to share my thoughts that it's in large part the fact that Americans (& probably Brits too) saw and heard Hitler on newsreels BEFORE a movie began… They likely understood nothing they heard, but as Hitler sounded harsh both biologically (emphatic) & technologically (old equipment) Americans did what belligerents all too often do in war… – they began to see Hitler as the embodiment of Germany and German"ness." I believe the association of German with overly fricative and harsh sounds is largely a holdover from the world wars, really one long tragic conflict…

  25. I speak in Latin to God, Italian to Women, French to Men, and German to my Horse.
    -Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

  26. I had the same perception about German language until I fell in love with my German man. After listening to him talking I changed my opinion. I think its a beautiful language, i have started learning that and ich liebe es!

  27. I was a German major in USA university. One day in the Student Union lounge while I was doing my Russian homework, a woman struck up a conversation in which she denounced German as sounding so ugly. So I started speaking to her in German: "Oh, that sounds lovely. What is it?" "German." Of course, it has more consonant sounds while Romance languages have more vowel sounds. But one of my favorite moments in French cinema was in "Le long blond avec une chaussure noire" (redone by young Tom Hanks as "The Man With One Red Shoe") when a female spy cried out with the ugliest "QUOIIII??" I had ever heard. It's all in how you say it.

  28. @"Schmetterling": Dazu fällt mir immer der deutsche Titel einer Komödie mit Peter Sellers ein:
    "Lass mich küssen deinen Schmetterling"😍
    Im Original: "KISS MY BUTTERFLY!!!"😩

    Okay, genaugenommen ist das nur der Alternativtitel von "I love you, Alice B. Toklas".
    Aber ich denke, es ist klar, was ich sagen wollte: "Schmetterling", eingebettet in diesem etwas poetischen Satz hört sich einfach sehr niedlich an.

  29. I think the German language (standard German) sounds beautiful and elegant, very similar to how British English sounds to my ears.

  30. This is wrong, for every word you got a hard and a soft word in German. For example the hard "Schmetterling", but literally you might say "Sommerflügler" or "Sommervogel" or "Tagfalter" or, or. In German there are many many words for 1 meaning. For every hard sound you got the soft expression as well, depends on what exactly you wanna say in German. Btw, clear German isn't pronounced with such a hard "R" like Hitler or Rammstein do^^. It depends on the right pronouncation, my friend. You can't speak clear German with a chewing-gum in your mouth, like you could speak english though.

  31. Why the Germans simply do not accept that their language is harsh? When I listen to a German (or some Scandinavian) trying to speak my language (Portuguese), my ears hurt. There is nothing wrong with having a harsh language.

  32. Well, I was born in Germany and learned the language first… and then, starting at age four, I also learned English. So, effectively, I grew up with both languages. And to me, someone who did grow up with both, German does indeed sound rather darn rough at times. But it's not so much that it sounds particularly harsh and ugly, and more that it lacks the melodic and flowing aspects in direct comparison to other languages that have these aspects (English and Japanese, especially).

  33. Not convinced mate..All Germans even at their gentlest sound like they are furhers sternly lecturing at a nuremberg rally…

  34. Oh my god, das perfide Albion has done it again! STOP RUINING MY REPUTATION, THOMMY!

    How shall I confuse my American co-workers now next time I fly over the pond…..

  35. It's not that complicated. German makes more use of guttural phonetics than English, which has almost no guttural sounds. So, to an English speaker, German naturally sounds more harsh on the ears. There is no insidious Hollywood conspiracy against the German language my dude. Art imitates life. The joke wouldn't have caught on if people didn't already have the impression that German sounds harsh. The "clear" and "distinct" pronunciation can also come across as stiff and unfriendly from the perspective of an English speaker, especially Americans, where one would take on a clear and distinct way of speaking when talking to their boss.

  36. If Toni Garrn looked over her should at me and said, "Verprügel mich, Meister! Verhau mich!"… it would be hot as hell!!!

  37. Natürlich muss Deutsch nicht so schrecklich hart klingen, nur wenn man es gerne so hätte wie das Hitler Deutsch, dass von ihm so einstudiert war. Nicht nur Land und Geschichte)(siehe z. B.Alleinschuld an den Kriegen) wurden und werden ständig verleumdet sondern auch unsere Sprache
    Ein Russ. Regisseur im Netz (hat den Faust verfilmt ) empfindet die deutsche Sprache so grossartig und
    ausdrucksvoll , dass er sie zum Weltkulturerbe erheben möchte.Etwas übertrieben aber nicht ganz.
    Er meint aber auch , dass die Deutschen ihre Kultur mit Füssen treten, u nd da hat er ziemlich recht , leider. Wir wissen alle ,dass es durch die einseitige Betrachtung 33/45 kommt.Die Sprachen Vergleichsvideos im Netz sind kein Scherz oder schwarzer Humor aus ( Great Britain???) Sondern
    üble wirkungsvolle Verleumdung.. kein Scherz.

  38. French and Italian are the same as English, but with different accents. The languages with the French and Italian Flags are Spanish and (unknown language/crazy gibberish). GET THE FLAGS RIGHT!

  39. Yes, Joke is always a joke. But, I think it's unfair to compare German to other romance languages because it came from a different root (with English as a big exception because English seems like a hybrid language between Germanic and Romance Language). German should be compared with other Germanic languages, for instance, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, etc. Then, you'll find the same harshness among those languages haha.

  40. this is the first video of you that i have seen and i am very happy that i clicked it, here you have a new subscriber

  41. German never sounded harsh to me, maybe cuz I've been raised around a Nigerian language which is much much harsher or maybe cuz I haven't been around enough Germans.

  42. Our prejudices often exist for a reason. Of course German could be spoken softly, it doesn't change the fact some languages will naturally sound more pleasing than others.

  43. I've had a few lessons yn Cymraeg (in Welsh).
    I demonstrated a few phrases for someone.

    "Croeso. Dewch i mewn, ac ydrychwch o gwmpus."
    ("Welcome. Come on in and look around.")

    She said that it was an ugly language. I told her that I was probably ruining it with my American accent. It would probably sound prettier if we could find someone fluent from Cymru (Wales). However, she was convinced that it was a harsh, guttural, ugly language nonetheless.

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