* German

The standard German consonant system is considered to have 17 or 19 obstruent phonemes (depending on whether two peripheral sounds are included, which occur only in loanwords), and five sonorants. The obstruents comprise six plosives, three (or four) affricates, and eight (or nine) fricatives, though there are two auditorily distinct fricatives (x and C) which are usually considered to be allophonic variants, giving ten fricatives in all that require distinct symbolic representation. [For some purposes it is convenient to give explicit representation to the glottal stop, too.]

As in English, the obstruents are traditionally classified pairwise as "voiced" and "voiceless", though periodicity is a less reliable feature than duration and intensity, and they are therefore better termed "lenis" and "fortis".

The six plosives are p b t d k g:

	Symbol		Word			Transcription
	p		Pein			paIn
	b		Bein			baIn
	t		Teich			taIC
	d		Deich			daIC
	k		Kunst			kUnst
	g		Gunst			gUnst
The voicing and aspiration patterning of German plosives is similar to that of English, with the unaspirated variant occcurring after initial /S/ or (in a few words) /s/.

[If it is desired to symbolise the glottal stop explicitly, it may be shown in SAMPA as shown here.]

	?		Verein			fE6"?aIn
There are three phonemic affricates that are considered to be native to German, pf ts tS, and a fourth one, dZ, which occurs in a few loanwords, and which is often replaced by tS:
	pf		Pfahl			pfa:l
	ts		Zahl			tsa:l
	tS		deutsch			dOYtS

	dZ		Dschungel		"dZUN=l
There are ten fricatives, f v s z S Z C j x h. j is often realised as a vowel glide.
	f		fast			fast
	v		was			vas
	s		Tasse			"tas@
	z		Hase			"ha:z@
	S		waschen			"vaS=n
	Z		Genie			Ze"ni:
	C		sicher			"zIC6
	j		Jahr			ja:6
	x		Buch			bu:x
	h		Hand			hant
The sonorants are three nasals, m n N, and two "liquids", l R, of which R can be realised as a uvular fricative (voiced or voiceless depending on context), a uvular approximant, or a uvular tap or trill:
	m		mein			maIn
	n		nein			naIn
	N		Ding			dIN
	l		Leim			laIm
	R		Reim			RaIm
Orthographic <r> is realised phonetically in a number of different ways:
  1. As a dorso-uvular consonant -- a voiced or voiceless fricative, approximant, trill or flap. This should be represented as R (as above).
  2. As an apico-alveolar consonant -- a trill, tap, or flap. This may be represented as r, e.g. <Reim> -- raIm.
  3. As a vowel post-vocalically. This may be represented as 6 (see below).
The vowels fall into three groups, "checked" (short), "free" (long), and two short vowels that only occur in unstressed position. There is a genuine short-long vowel distinction in German, the long vowels being roughly twice as long (all other things being equal) as the short vowels.

The checked vowels are I E a O U Y 9:

	I		Sitz		zIts
	E		Gesetz		g@"zEts
	a		Satz		zats
	O		Trotz		trOts
	U		Schutz		SUts
	Y		hübsch		hYpS
	9		plötzlich	"pl9tslIC
There are 8 pure free vowels, i: e: E: a: o: u: y: 2:, and three free diphthongs, aI aU OY:
	i:		Lied		li:t
	e:		Beet		be:t
	E:		spät		SpE:t
	a:		Tat		ta:t
	o:		rot		ro:t
	u:		Blut		blu:t
	y:		süß		zy:s
	2:		blöd		bl2:t

	aI		Eis		aIs
	aU		Haus		haUs
	OY		Kreuz		krOYts
The unstressed "schwa" vowel is:
	@		bitte		"bIt@
The vowel realisation of <r>, represented as 6, fuses with schwa, but it also follows stressed vowels, resulting in additional centring diphthongs:
	6		besser		"bEs6
	i:6		Tier		ti:6
	I6		Wirt		vI6t
	y:6		Tür		ty:6
	Y6		Türke		"tY6k@
	e:6		schwer		Sve:6
	E6		Berg		bE6k
	E:6		Bär		bE:6
	2:6		Föhr		f2:6
	96		Wörter		"v96t6
	a:6		Haar		ha:6
	a6		hart		ha6t
	u:6		Kur		ku:6
	U6		kurz		kU6ts
	o:6		Ohr		o:6
	O6		dort		dO6t

Verbmobil SAMPA-D-VMlex documentation (in German)

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Maintained by J.C. Wells. Last amended 1996 03 18