How Do You Say Porsche?
Pronouncing German Words in English
As for those other English words above, all of which are also borrowed from other languages, you may know they can be pronounced in a variety of ways, just counting American versus British English. I only mention the English examples because I want to prepare you for the German words. The point is, as you can see, that pronunciation is not an exact science and it depends on where you live, your level of education, and your dialect (even in the U.S.).
By some standards, many English-speakers, even highly educated ones, mispronounce certain borrowed German words in English. Examples include scientific terms (Neanderthal, Loess), brand names (Adidas, Deutsche Bank, Porsche, Braun) and names in the news (Angela Merkel, Jörg Haider). More about this below.But Americans often do quite well with the many other German words commonly used in English. Even when they don't know exactly what it means, Americans pronounce Gesundheit (health) with a high degree of accuracy. (See the article You Already Know German for the English meaning of most of the German terms used here.) Other German words used and pronounced fairly well by English-speakers include: Kindergarten, Poltergeist, Strudel, Dachshund, kaputt, Schadenfreude, verboten, Ersatz, Rottweiler, Gestalt, Lufthansa (airline) and Weltanschauung. They come close with Angst, Fahrenheit, Volkswagen, Frankfurter, Zeppelin, Leitmotiv, Rucksack, and even Fahrvergnügen (from the VW ads years ago).
Hear MP3 Audio
of the words in this article
German names of personalities such as Steffi Graf (now married to Andre Agassi), Henry Kissinger, and even the Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger roll right off American tongues. They can say Marlene Dietrich (usually) or Sigmund Freud just fine, but for some reason U.S. TV newscasters never could get former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder's last name right. (Maybe it's the influence of the "Peanuts" character of the same name?) Most announcers have now learned to pronounce the current German chancellor's name with the correct hard-g pronunciation: [AHNG-uh-luh MERK-el] Angela Merkel.
In all fairness, German-speakers also mispronounce English words used in German. I'll never forget the day I was in a German department store and the sales clerk was telling me about the Nike™ sports shoes. But he pronounced the brand name with a silent e (NYKE). It took me a minute before I realized he meant NYE-KEE, but like most Germans he assumed the e was silent in the brand name, just as it is in most English words ending in e. But the word is Greek, so neither one is correct in that sense. (I doubt also that most people know that English-speakers in Chaucer's time were still pronouncing the e on the end of words like olde.) Most Germans can't hear the difference between the English adjective live (eine Live-Sendung, a live broadcast) and the noun life, pronouncing (and sometimes spelling) both words as life. But that's another problem.
So, how should you pronounce Porsche? Find out on the next page.
Subscribe to a free newsletter!
OUR GERMAN FORUMS