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Author Topic: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?  (Read 3970 times)

Arizona Hot

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Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« on: October 09, 2012, 06:05:55 PM »
I would like comment on this from our foreign-language members. Click on the image to view the video.

Squirrel.jpg

Renegade

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2012, 06:28:26 PM »
While I don't speak German, I speak Korean, and can comment in general on the issue.

The article does a decent job of outlining some of the issues.

STEP 1:
At the core, you have different consonants and vowels in different languages, and even in different consonants and vowels inside of a single language (dialect or accent).

For English speakers, try saying these 3 words:

1) Mary (the name)
2) Merry (as in merry Xmas)
3) Marry (as in get hitched)

The a/e there will sound the same to some, while sounding different to others, depending mostly on where you are from. You may hear 1, 2, or even 3 distinct vowels.

As another typical example, Americans typically pick out Canadians by the way they say "about".

STEP 2:
Next, you have different combinations of those vowels and consonants.


And that pretty much sums it up. Different combinations of vowels and consonants condition you with motor skills (very much like muscular memory, if not exactly that) so that when you go to step "outside" of those "rules", things can tend to get weird.

Again, for English speakers, try to pronounce this as a word:

Ng

If you can at all, chances are that you slaughtered it because the initial "ng" sound doesn't exist in English. Again, while that is a real word, it is used in other words as well, e.g.:

Ngoc

Which again, is very difficult for English speakers to pronounce.

There are tonnes of examples out there of sound patterns that don't exist in different languages, so "squirrel" in the mouth of a German speaker isn't very surprising. Though it may be entertaining! :)

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tomos

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2012, 06:55:37 PM »
Funny, because, as a native English speaker in Germany, speaking German with a sort of a reasonably good local accent,* it's the 'r's that identify me as a foreigner. They roll them in a way that just doesnt seem possible: I either dont roll, or, if I make an effort, I sound like I'm trying to hack something up. (They sound somewhere in between - quite discreet.)


* I've got to admit, I also have trouble with vowels with umlauts. If I can manage to avoid the umlauts and the 'r's, they think I'm a native from somewhere else, far way. Or maybe they're just being nice to me.


Edit/ I've heard squirrel pronounced 'squirdel' by native English speakers, so as Renegade says, where you're from is an important factor. (If german native speakers knew that, they mightnt be so shy with their pronunciation!)
Tom

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012, 07:44:36 PM »
As a Native English (American) speaker, I have a very difficult time saying "squirrel" in the Esperanto language.

"sciuro"


phitsc

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2012, 07:36:50 AM »
The topic says: Germans. It's only one of them in the video though.

40hz

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2012, 08:55:54 AM »
My GF has a Russian expatriate with a very thick accent (let's call her Katrina) working in her office.

One of the other workers in her office went up to Katrina one afternoon and said: "Katrina! I need cheering up. Could you please say: Moose and Squirrel?

Katrina dutifully said "Moose and Squirrel" and couldn't  understand why almost everyone within earshot burst out laughing. It got even funnier when Katrina, who was by now totally confused, kept asking: "Moose and squirrel? Moose and squirrel? Why is this wording so funny?"

As my GF put it, it certainly brightened up her day. ;D

Stoic Joker

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2012, 11:46:54 AM »
As my GF put it, it certainly brightened up her day.

Hell it just brightened mine and I wasn't even there. :)

Tehehehe (I'll be laughing for a while I suspect)

40hz

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2012, 12:10:43 PM »
^I'll have to see if I can get my GF to get a sound clip. I've never heard the lady in question say that phrase. But I have talked to her outside of work (she gets along great with my GF) and I must admit that even with the Russian and Lithuanian side of my family background I have trouble understanding some of what she says. Think Cate Blanchette as Irina Spalko in the last Indiana Jones installment:

VFspalko.jpgWhy Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?

Indiana Jones: You're not from around here, are you?
Agent Irina Spalko: [taking off her glasses] Where is it you would imagine I am from, Dr. Jones?
Indiana Jones: Well, the way you're sinking your teeth into those wubble-u's, I should think maybe Eastern Ukraine.


AbteriX

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 01:09:26 PM »
Ha! Lets say everybody  -Eichhörnchen-   :P

40hz

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 03:23:09 PM »
Ich sage "Elch und Eichhoernchen." :P

tomos

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2012, 03:50:45 AM »
Ha! Lets say everybody  -Eichhörnchen-   :P

A Guide for native-English-speakers to how to correctly make those öäü sounds:

For all of them, contract the neck muscles under your jaw till, (no matter what weight you are) you look like a starved socialite.

1) Project your head forwards and make a duck face for 'ü'
2) Pull chin backwards till you look like an idiot and say 'ä' in the manner of Mr.Bean
3) A fishface works well for 'ö'

Meanwhile, the native speakers dont twitch a muscle...

[I refuse to make a video of myself doing making any of these sounds :p]
Tom

40hz

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2012, 03:22:39 PM »
[I refuse to make a video of myself doing making any of these sounds :p]

Friends don't video non-native speaking friends attempting to pronounce Germanic umlauts. :eusa_naughty:

It's not a pretty sight.

zridling

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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel' ?
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 06:41:00 PM »
It's actually kind of cute. And isn't this why we've loved Arnold in the movies all these years?