ZEH GERMANS ARE COMINK!
Posted 14. April 2009on:
The heading might be a bit misleading – we Germans are not in fact, going anywhere. Except for vacations, of course. If you are a native speaker of English, you probably heard someone from here or some other country butcher your language ruthlessly, either through mispronounciation, bad grammar, or similar problems. You make fun of us for it, too – zeh for the, k instead of g, w instead of v. A „Jawohl!“ thrown in for a quick Nazi joke.
But mostly, you have it right – Germans that have learned English at school never develop the necessary mindset to speak English at a higher degree of skill to mask these most telling signs of a non-native speaker. Sounds like the /θ/ or /ð/ do not exist in the German language – we have to substitute them with /t/, /s/ or /z/ (due to them being the nearest consonants to the /ð/ or /θ/) if we do not learn to pronounce the sound. Words that end with an -ing usually are pronounced in such a way that the /g/ at the end is dropped, or hardly pronounced. Due to the fact that the whole verb construction regarding -ing is also new to Germans, they usually emphasize the -ing to show that they know the proper grammar – if the German is confident in his English he still might overemphasize the /g/ due to the simple nature that the ’silent‘ /g/ is not very common in German (or in fact, in place of a silent /g/, we sometimes use the German allophone [ç], which again shifts the word’s emphasis onto the last syllable).
I hope I gave some insight into the difficulties of German native speakers and their accents in English, for further reading I would suggest a good book on the subject – no link today!