14 Mar 2012

Germans Cannot Pronounce “Squirrel”

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Watch this:

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And this:

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And this:

Life’s Little Mysteries investigates why the Krauts have this problem.

Carlos Gussenhoven, a phonologist — a linguist who studies the sounds used in different languages — at Radboud University in the Netherlands, believes the challenge lies in squirrel’s syllable structure.

Linguists break words into clusters — groups of consonants that have no intervening vowels. In German, “-rl” is an end cluster, Gussenhoven explained. It comes at the end of a syllable, as in the common German name Karl, rather than forming a syllable of its own. Thus German speakers try to translate the two-syllable English word “squirrel” into the monosyllabic German sound “skwörl ” in the same way that “squirm” becomes “skwörm.”

But that doesn’t sound quite right, and Germans know it. “Dissatisfied with this result, the German speaker tries to produce a real ‘R,’ of the sort you get in (Rock ‘n) Roll, in the end cluster, wreaking havoc,” Gussenhoven [said].

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2 Feedbacks on "Germans Cannot Pronounce “Squirrel”"

No Man

During the Second World War, GI’s used passwords they knew Germans couldn’t say.



Vanessa

Lol wow



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