Help talk:IPA/Standard German

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Overly detailed descriptions of vowels[edit]

Do we really need to describe e.g. [aː] as bad (RP, Irish but slightly more backed), mark (Northern England, Australian), bod (American)? We don't do that on any other page, and the title of the column clearly says English approximation. Mr KEBAB (talk) 18:01, 25 September 2017 (UTC)

Pinging the editor who introduced that: @Ranníocóir:. Mr KEBAB (talk) 18:03, 25 September 2017 (UTC)

Why not? Surely this is helpful for speakers of these varieties and for people with intricate knowledge of English varieties. Better than nothing. And there is no denying that these are still approximations. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 18:49, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Surely this is helpful for speakers of these varieties and for people with intricate knowledge of English varieties. Is that what we want though?
There is no denying that these are still approximations. The one I quoted is an exact description of the sound in question. It's quite clearly not an approximation. I'm not sure if we're talking about the same tables, because I can't see many approximations there.
By writing better than nothing you're suggesting that we have a different (or at least a more narrow) choice than we actually have. The choice we have is between giving general English approximations of German sounds as it's done on other Help:IPA/X pages and what we have now. I don't think that anyone would take the idea of removing English approximations altogether seriously (and I'm not even saying that that's what you're proposing, I'm sure that's not the case). It'd be much better to remove this page instead, because doing the former would render this guide pretty much useless. Mr KEBAB (talk) 22:50, 25 September 2017 (UTC)
I agree that the overly detailed description doesn't help anyone. IMO, the concise version from 27 January 2017 is less confusing and more helpful than the current one: diff. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 04:36, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
You have still not given any reasons why you wish to remove the additional information other than keeping symmetry with other similar pages. I am just saying that this is not a valid reason for removing information. A valid reason would be the WP:CCPOL. Put a WP:V flag on the article and wait some time so others have a chance to find sources. If they do not, then you have a valid reason for removing the information. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 05:55, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Just because we can source something it doesn't automatically mean that we should keep it. We're not arguing that the information is wrong or unverifiable but that it's overly detailed and it's misleading to call these extremely elaborated descriptions 'approximations' because they're not that. This page is not designed to be a complete guide to pronouncing standard German. There are books for that, like Modern German pronunciation: An introduction for speakers of English cited in this guide. We also have Standard German phonology, which also covers phonetics.
I object to tagging the article. Nowhere else do we require English approximations to be sourced nor do we allow narrow phonetic descriptions of sounds to be called 'approximations' of them. I see no basis for treating this page as if it were different than other guides. German is not special, it's a language like others. Mr KEBAB (talk) 08:10, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
Just because the approximations on this help page are slightly elaborated it does not mean that we should simplify them again. And just because the approximation on this help page is different from others does not mean we have to change it back. Neither reason is valid.
And concerning the word “approximation”: Of course it is an approximation. With a mere dozen of words, it cannot be anything else. An exhaustive description – as opposed to a mere approximation – would demand entire paragraphs, if not chapters. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 16:45, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Ok, let's turn this around: do you have a valid reason for keeping elaborate descriptions of vowels on this page? We find them unhelpful, too specific and harder to relate to for people that don't know the IPA compared to what we had before.
So a detailed description of something can't have the length of one sentence and it must be called an approximation. Well, almost all descriptions of German vowels on this page prove you wrong. You can describe German vowels in a more detailed way, but the way we describe them crosses the line between approximations and fairly exact phonetic descriptions. Plus, explaining IPA with the IPA? Is that what we want? Mr KEBAB (talk) 17:33, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
@Mr KEBAB: I concede that my reasons for the longer approximations may be just as subjective and unconvincing as your reasons for the shorter approximations. However, my main point is the following: If there are two acceptable revisions, we should always prefer the more recent one because this is Wikipedia. It thrives on change and participation and diversity. WP:DONTREVERT. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 20:08, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Fair enough. The question is: are they equally acceptable? Judging by what this page actually is (a guide for laymen, often with little knowledge of IPA), that's questionable. Especially because we're trying to help people understand IPA by using more IPA. This is a bit silly and I think you can admit that we should at least remove any IPA symbols from that column. That'd be a good start. Mr KEBAB (talk) 20:17, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
@Mr KEBAB: Agreed, removing the IPA symbols from the descriptions is a good idea. Other than that, I think the descriptions are helpful. They all refer to well-known varieties of English. That covers people without any knowledge in phonetics. And then, they go on to give some hints about where the German sounds differ. This is additional information for people with sufficient understanding of phonetics. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 20:24, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Ok, will do. Mr KEBAB (talk) 20:28, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
@Mr KEBAB: I am reverting your edits. The only thing we have agreed upon is removing the IPA, but you have gone much further than that. You have pretty much reverted all the changes, and you have obscured your edits by making tons of subsequent edits. Please do not do that. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 06:06, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: You've missed the change to lead. Mr KEBAB (talk) 06:08, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: What did you reinstate the incorrect information for? I wrote the edit summaries for a reason. To call my multiple edits 'obscuring what I really do' or whatever you meant is completely incorrect. Mr KEBAB (talk) 06:11, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Sorry, I might've overreacted a bit but my point still stands. Maybe I went too far with removing certain varieties (e.g. Irish) from the table, but it was full of errors. It's as if the editor who put it there just took a quick look at Wikipedia articles on varieties of English without reading any sources that discuss their phonetics. We both completely missed that in our discussion above. Mr KEBAB (talk) 07:14, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
@Mr KEBAB: I am sorry for accusing you of obscuring. However, your tendency of making dozens of subsequent tiny edits makes it rather hard to follow. Of course, I can view all your edits at once, but tying the numerous edit summaries to the individual edits is a labyrinthical task.
I am now trying my version: Keeping the expanded descriptions, but – as we agreed upon – removing the IPA.
BTW, I agree that a few of the descriptions are questionable. However, I think that most are very accurate, including many of those you dismiss as completely wrong (or do you – it is kinda hard to tell), e.g. “bod (American)”, that is, [ɑː], for German /aː/, also (potentially) [ɑː], or “square (Modern RP)” for German /ɛː/, both [ɛː]. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 19:02, 28 September 2017 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Yeah, I should've listed the wrong examples. I'll do it soon. Mr KEBAB (talk) 19:15, 28 September 2017 (UTC)
Nardog cleaned up the guide for us a few months ago. Sorry for not responding back in September. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 14:14, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

a pronunciation[edit]

why does it say "The Austrian and Swiss pronunciation of /a/ and /aː/ is [ɑ] and [ɑː]" in a separate note instead of just having the column split like a | ɑ (like with r)? LICA98 (talk) 16:48, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

The symbols in the first column comprise the set of symbols allowed to use inside {{IPA-de}}. The column can be split, yes, but then we would be prescribing the use of ⟨ɑ⟩ and ⟨ɑː⟩ rather than ⟨a⟩ and ⟨aː⟩ as far as Austrian and Swiss notations are concerned. An argument against it may be that it would be too many instructions to editors and difficult to maintain, or that it would be too much precision when there's no phonemic contrast or (unlike [ɐ̯] vs. [r] etc.) phonotactic variation. Nardog (talk) 17:00, 28 February 2018 (UTC)
didn't understand what you mean by "we would be prescribing the use of ⟨ɑ⟩ and ⟨ɑː⟩ rather than ⟨a⟩ and ⟨aː⟩ as far as Austrian and Swiss notations are concerned" LICA98 (talk) 17:08, 6 March 2018 (UTC)
Currently, the key instructs editors, as designated by MOS:PRON, to transcribe within {{IPA-de}} the German rhotic as [ʁ] for German (or regionally unspecified) German and as [r] for Austrian and Swiss German. If we split the cells for [a] and [aː] into [a, ɑ] and [aː, ɑː], we would be demanding those editors use [ɑ, ɑː] in place of [a, aː] in Austrian or Swiss German notations the same way they (are supposed to) use [r] in place of [ʁ]. Nardog (talk) 18:13, 6 March 2018 (UTC)


The use of “RP” in “Scottish, or RP and Irish” (for example) is not, at least for me, self-explanatory. Received Pronunciation? Like English via BBC? or what? Thanks — Jo3sampl (talk) 03:35, 28 February 2018 (UTC)

Yes, Received Pronunciation is what it stands for. But IMO the current vowel table is utter overkill. Especially for vowels that sound practically the same in both RP and General American, those qualifiers are definitely extraneous. Also the quality of /uː/, /ɑː/, etc. varies quite a lot even within RP or GA. The "English approximation" column is for those who have no idea what "back" or "closed" or "cot–caught merger" means—were they so linguistically sophisticated, they wouldn't need those reference words in the first place. Others interested in the precise quality of a vowel can simply click on the symbol. Nardog (talk) 14:21, 28 February 2018 (UTC)

Variants of Standard German[edit]

As of now, we cover only Standard German as spoken in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. So what about countries like Belgium, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein or Namibia? Is it safe to assume that SG as spoken in Lichtenstein is basically Swiss SG, whereas the other 3 countries adhere to German SG? Mr KEBAB (talk) 15:41, 13 May 2018 (UTC)

Luxembourgish phonology says that there's generally no [m̩, n̩, l̩] in Luxembourg, where only [əm, ən, əl] are used. So that's at least one difference between Luxembourgish SG (if that's even a thing...) and German SG. Mr KEBAB (talk) 15:45, 13 May 2018 (UTC)

I doubt a distinct standard pronunciation which is taught in drama schools, broadcasting services, etc. has emerged in Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein or Namibia. And I know for sure that some of Luxembourg's and Namibia's news anchors, television presenters, radio announcers and/or show hosts are Germans or grew up in Germany. — Let me note two points: 1. Luxembourgish is a stanardized language of its own, so it is unsafe to reason by analogy. 2. As long as we don't have reliable sources it is a mute point to discuss this topic. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 22:31, 13 May 2018 (UTC)
@LiliCharlie: I actually didn't reason by analogy. Luxembourgish phonology lists that example and explicitly mentions Standard German in the sentence (and so does the source). But I agree, there's really no point in discussing this without reliable sources. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 14:16, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

vowel like RP "heart"[edit]

Is the close-mid front rounded vowel denoted by ⟨ø⟩ (as in, e.g., ökonom) really "somewhat like RP heart"? I'm not a native speaker of Standard German or Standard British English, but this seems wrong. JGambolputty (talk) 09:12, 27 May 2018 (UTC)

Yeah, totally wrong. RP heart is a long back vowel. I replaced it with hurt. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 13:50, 27 May 2018 (UTC)
Isn't the vowel of New Zealand English heard/hurt much closer to Standard German [øː/ø]? It is rounded, much higher and a bit fronter than its RP equivalent. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 04:44, 28 May 2018 (UTC)
If we can avoid dialect-specific pronunciation equivalents, it's more helpful IMHO. Pretty much no matter what dialect of English you speak, hurt will be the closest approximation. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 05:46, 28 May 2018 (UTC)


@JGambolputty: Dubious how? Also RP THOUGHT is usually higher than the cardinal [ɔ], sometimes approaching [o], so not that "roughly". Nardog (talk) 05:14, 30 May 2018 (UTC)

I was just typing a comment in which I was about to say that more competent others should feel free to revert my edit if they think it made things worse. The reason I took out the example of American English low was that it seemed to me to be suggesting an equivalence between the diphthong [oʊ] and the sound [o]. Also, the (previously unqualified) example of RP thought was already present, and I added the qualifier "roughly" because, as you point out, the sound seemed a bit higher than [o]. However, as I say, if you think my logic is wrong, please feel free to change it back. JGambolputty (talk) 05:29, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
Looking more carefully, I see now that only the letter 'o' in low was bolded, which I suppose should not be ambiguous. I have added back low while retaining the qualifier "roughly" in connection to the RP example. JGambolputty (talk) 05:40, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, that was the intent as for the low example. Still not sure about what you mean about thought though. RP /ɔː/ is not higher than [o]. (I assume you meant to say "higher than [ɔ]"?) Standard German [o(ː)] seems to be exactly like the cardinal [o] according to Standard German phonology#Vowels, to which RP /ɔː/ is fairly close. In fact we're already giving law as the example for [oː]. Nardog (talk) 05:52, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
You might have been confusing phonemic notation and actual realization. When I say "RP THOUGHT is usually higher than the cardinal [ɔ]", I mean that the vowel in thought, conventionally referred to as the lexical set THOUGHT and traditionally transcribed phonemically as /ɔː/, is realized in Received Pronunciation with a quality between the Cardinal Vowels [ɔ] and [o]. Compare the vowel diagrams seen in IPA chart, Received Pronunciation, and Standard German phonology. Nardog (talk) 06:17, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
I'm sorry; I misread what you wrote *and* typed the wrong the character. What I meant to say is that the [o] in originell seemed higher to me than [ɔ] as in RP thought (/θɔːt/), hence "roughly." When you said that thought is "not that 'roughly'" close to originell, I took you to be saying that they aren't that similar, whereas I now see that you meant they aren't that different. If you think that RP thought is actually higher than [ɔ] and thus closer to [o] than I had thought, then by all means remove roughly. I apologize for the confusion: I should have just left well enough alone! JGambolputty (talk) 06:23, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
Ah, now I see what happened. No worries, sorry for the vague wording in the original post. Nardog (talk) 06:28, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
I've removed low as an example. As can be seen by this thread, it's confusing. In general, breaking up diphthongs in these approximations is often less than helpful.
I've also tweaked a few of the other English approximations. I don't like delving into more obscure dialects to find an exact phonetic replica. These are approximations and so we shouldn't be worried if the English approximations are imperfect. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 16:31, 30 May 2018 (UTC)

Remove Austrian and especially Swiss SG from the guide[edit]

There are multiple reasons to remove these from the guide.

First of all, Northern Standard German is clearly the most prestigious variety, and many (EDIT: maybe that's an exaggeration, some is probably a more accurate description) speakers of Standard German from Austria imitate some of the features of NSG when they speak Hochdeutsch. Moosmüller, Schmid and Brandstätter (2015) even had to select specific speakers for their study because the variety of Standard German some Austrians (e.g. news presenters) speak is too mixed with NSG.

Swiss Standard German is the least prestigious, because many speakers don't vocalize their /r/'s and when that's coupled with alveolar realizations thereof (not to mention using velar/uvular fricatives where [ç] is present in other varieties of SG), the result sounds strongly regional if not borderline non-native (though this might be an exaggeration) to other speakers of SG. The same goes for overly open realizations of /eː, øː, oː/. It's somewhat like speaking Dutch with a strong West Flemish accent. It just doesn't sound standard, even though it might be in that particular region of Belgium. My point is, it's highly probable that SSG is standard in Switzerland and pretty much nowhere else. It's not a widely acceptable variant of pronunciation, and because of that we shouldn't include it here. NSG is acceptable everywhere, SSG probably isn't. Let's not forget that for many southeners SG is a second native language, if not an actual second language (it's kind of like the situation of Standard Dutch in Limburg). We really shouldn't encourage speakers of English to pronounce German in the Swiss way. It should be their conscious choice to adopt such a marked accent (that is, if my reasoning is correct). Would you teach the New Zealand accent to someone who is learning English?

Also, let's not forget that this guide can be both allophonic and diaphonemic. When we transcribe besser as [ˈbɛsɐ] this also covers variants such as [ˈb̥ɛsɐ], [ˈb̥esəɾ], etc. Of course, this doesn't work in all cases: [ˈtɑːɡ̊] isn't recoverable from [ˈtaːk], though it kind of is when you also look at the spelling.

There also are reasons not to include ASG, or at very least to change our representation of it, which seems to be unsourced and simply untrue. The source of the following descriptions is Moosmüller, Schmid and Brandstätter (2015).

  • Consonants
    • [z] appears just as a possible intervocalic variant of /s/.
    • Lenis plosives (which normally are voiceless) may be phonetically voiced when intervocalic, either as stops or as fricatives.
    • Intervocalic fortis plosives can be realized as long voiceless lenis stops. This and the aforementioned voicing of the lenis plosives introduces a complication to the transcription. Word-final /s/ can also be phonetically long.
      • This also occurs in colloquial NSG, for example in the (former) Low Saxon-speaking area.
    • Furthermore, fortis plosives might or might not be realized as voiceless lenis also in some other positions.
    • Conversely, word-final lenis plosives might actually be fortis, as in NSG.
    • /n/ tends to assimilate to the place of articulation of the following obstruent.
      • Nothing special, this also occurs in actual spoken NSG and doesn't need to be transcribed.
    • The predominant pronunciation of /r/ isn't [r] but [ʁ], as in NSG.
    • The distribution of [x] and [ç] in ASG is a bit different to what we can hear in NSG, as in ASG [x] is also used after the centering /r/-diphthongs, as in Kirche [ˈkɪɐ̯xɛ].
    • The glottal stop is much rarer in ASG than in NSG.
    • The non-native [dʒ] and [ʒ] seem not to exist in ASG.
      • This kind of merger appears in many varieties of SG and ASG isn't special in this regard.
  • Vowels
    • /a, aː/ are back [ɑ, ɑː], not central.
    • /ɛː/ doesn't exist and it completely merges with /eː/.
      • Many speakers of SG across Europe merge the two, so it's nothing special. However, speakers of ASG might be a bit more consistent in merging them, kind of like Americans are in flapping their alveolar stops in comparison with Australians.
    • The schwa /ə/ doesn't exist and it's replaced by either /ɛ/ or a short [e].
      • This also happens in many regional variants of SG.
    • There can be a phonetic zero where a phonetic (and phonological) schwa would appear in NSG, as in gesagt [ɡ̊sɑːkt] (notice that it has one syllable) or [ɡ̊əˈsɑːkt].
    • /ɪ, ʏ, ʊ/ as well as /ɛ, œ, ɔ/ are variably tensed to [i, y, u, e, ø, o].
    • The centering diphthongs that begin with tense vowels tend to be laxed, which means that there's no actual difference between [iːɐ̯, yːɐ̯, uːɐ̯, eːɐ̯, øːɐ̯, oːɐ̯] on one hand and [ɪɐ̯, ʏɐ̯, ʊɐ̯, ɛɐ̯, œɐ̯, ɔɐ̯] on the other, with both sets being realized as [ɪɐ̯, ʏɐ̯, ʊɐ̯, ɛɐ̯, œɐ̯, ɔɐ̯]. However, this merger doesn't seem to be categorical.
      • ASG is identical to colloquial NSG in this regard - see our article on the phonology of SG.
    • These diphthongs also appear before intervocalic /r/, as in Lehrer [ˈlɛɐ̯ʁɐ] (NSG [ˈleːʁɐ]).
    • /r/ is completely absorbed by the preceding /ɑ, ɑː/, so that /ɑr, ɑːr/ and /ɑː/ all merge to [ɑː]
      • Nothing special, it also happens in practically all areas with /r/-vocalization.
    • Some speakers (a minority) make no strong distinction between the lax /ɛ/ and the tense /eː/, and the former can be realized as [e] and the latter as [ɛː]
      • This would probably be viewed as rather strongly non-standard by speakers from other regions (especially most of Germany).
    • The JIPA article transcribes our /aɪ, aʊ, ɔʏ/ with ⟨aɛ, ɑɔ, ɔɛ⟩. This is probably uncalled for and ⟨aɪ, ɑʊ, ɔɪ⟩ would be a better set of symbols. Also, there are far more possible realizations of these than just [aɛ, ɑɔ, ɔɛ].
      • We could change the NSG transcription of these diphthongs to ⟨aɛ, aɔ, ɔœ⟩ (per Krech et al. (2009)), but probably no other source transcribes them as such. It's far better to keep transcribing the first two sounds with ⟨aɪ, aʊ⟩ in NSG and to simplify the transcription of /ɔʏ/ to ⟨ɔɪ⟩ per the Handbook of the IPA and the latest edition of Duden's Aussprachewörterbuch. These symbols are more familiar to native speakers of English that can read English IPA, and tell them that these sounds aren't that different from their English counterparts (in fact, some native speakers of English pronounce these diphthongs pretty much exactly like the Germans do, it's just that the first element is too long).
    • We don't know how the nasal vowels, the shortened tense vowels and the non-native [ɛɪ, ɔʊ, œːɐ̯] are pronounced in ASG.

I might've missed something, so you need to read the paper yourself. The link is here. Generally, a lot of these features remind me of regional SG.

What if these inconsistencies and variations also apply to the actual spoken Swiss Standard German? Do we have sources to confirm that that's not the case? If not, that's another reason to have only one (Northern) variant here. Also, SSG transcriptions aren't as local as the Alemannic ones, and we already have Help:IPA/Alemannic German. There's no problem with including both Alemannic and and quasi-pandialectal Standard German (using established symbols for NSG) transcriptions. There's also no problem with creating Help:IPA/Bavarian and linking truly local Austrian/Bavarian pronunciations there. Also, even if we choose to change our representation of ASG in this guide, are there sources that actually transcribe the Standard Austrian accent as described in the JIPA article? What about authentic Swiss Standard German? Because there are multiple (well, at least 2) pronunciation dictionaries which transcribe German words (and loanwords) into NSG - another reason to prefer this variant on WP.

Maybe I got something wrong in the first part of my post. If so, feel free to correct it. Also, my apologies if my message looks too chaotic. I had to cover multiple topics.

Also, do we have a method of checking how many Austrian and Swiss pronunciations there are on Wikipedia? If not, removing these varieties will be problematic, unless there's someone crazy enough (:P) who would go through all of our German transcriptions.

I think being of help to our readers and having uniform German transcriptions across WP is far more important than not being prescriptive (and editors who say they have a problem with prescriptivism seem to miss the fact that there are levels of narrowness to IPA transcriptions and that they can be both allophonic and diaphonemic, at least to some degree).

I suggest that we remove ASG and SSG from the guide. They might be complicating things too much and SSG isn't a suitable model for most learners of German - and we should also think about them. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 17:02, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

I do not have any issues with removing the pseudo-three-column layout. However, I strongly object to banning [r] or prescribing [ʔ]. The inescapable outcome would be people imposing a totally inappropriate northern German pronunciation onto Swiss or Austrian names and places. If we want to simplify, I would actually prefer the good old dictionary tradition of using only [r]. It is simpler to foreign speakers, and the Northern pronunciation with [ɐ] is easily recoverable from it, and we do the same thing in the English transcriptions already. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 21:04, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust:r⟩ is a very broad transcription, and we have multiple sources that use ⟨ʁ⟩ instead (Kohler (1999) and Krech et al. (2009) just to name two). ⟨ʁ⟩ is an objectively superior symbol because the vast majority of speakers of SG realize /r/ as a uvular continuant, and remember that we should prefer NSG here (which is the most prestigious variety and even more superior of a choice for this guide because NSG is what English-speaking learners of German learn all around the world). As I said, there are multiple reasons not to cover SSG and probably also ASG in this guide (and therefore in all of the transcriptions that link to this guide).
Transcribing [r] where a (non-syllabic) low central vowel mandatorily appears in NSG would be doing a massive disservice to learners and would be a bad practice for multiple reasons:
- That's not how pronunciation dictionaries treat /r/, and those should be our primary sources (not in the Wikipedia sense, you know what I mean)
- It'd be sacrificing showing an authentic NSG pronunciation just for the simplicity of transcription and to accomodate speakers of SSG, a variety which we probably shouldn't even cover here. It's just a regional pronunciation standard, it doesn't have the same prestige as NSG.
- [ɐ] and [ɐ̯] do just as good of a job of being diaphonemic symbols that correspond to consonantal realizations of /r/ in Switzerland.
You seem to be confusing broad and narrow phonetic transcriptions. Just because there'd be a glottal stop in the transcription doesn't automatically mean that it needs to be pronounced. If, for whatever reason, someone chooses to sound more Swiss or Austrian, they can ignore the distinction between [z, dʒ, ʒ] on one hand and [s, tʃ, ʃ] on the other and merge the two sets into [s, tʃ, ʃ]. If they can do that, they can do the same with the glottal stop. I object to not transcribing it because it doesn't have a completely predictable distribution. It must be transcribed in order for readers who aim at NSG as a model to truly sound authentic when they speak German. Others can ignore it. We can drop phrase-initial glottal stops (as pronunciation dictionaries do) but not others.
I'd also like to point out that a POV of a native speaker of Swiss SG is just as much of a POV as a prescriptivist one (not that I really identify as such, those are your words, maybe not from this discussion in particular but from the other ones). Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 22:36, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
We gain nothing by forcing Swiss or Austrian names or places to be transcribed in a Northern German way. Uniformity is no benefit. The vast majority of readers will never find out that this is not the standard pronunciation of such names or places. By providing the actual standard pronunciation, and not the one that might be used in Northern Germany, our readers get valuable information. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 06:04, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Pardon me for insisting, but I still haven't seen many of my concerns addressed. Perhaps that's my fault for writing such a long message. So, let me rewrite them here:
- Is what I wrote about Swiss SG correct? Is it perceived as noticeably less prestigious than Austrian and especially Northern SG? If so, why would we want to tell our readers that it's just as fine to use SSG when you speak German? It seems to me that you just don't want us to not cover SSG in the guide.
- What about the JIPA article on Austrian German? It makes transcribing it problematic and our representation of it (as it is now) is just plain wrong.
- Where can we find dictionaries, especially pronunciation dictionaries that transcribe Austrian SG as described by the JIPA article?
- What about Swiss SG? Are there descriptions of the actual spoken standard of Switzerland? Is transcribing it as complicated as transcribing ASG? Are there dictionaries that transcribe SSG words as they would actually be pronounced by educated Swiss people? Because the last thing we want is to allow WP:OR here, which we've already done in allowing this guide to describe an artificial standard of AG that Austrians don't use.
- What about the fact that NSG is actually an ideal that speakers from Germany (at least some of them), Belgium, Luxembourg, Namibia and some from Austria approximate their speech to? It just so happens that Germans from Northern Germany are usually the most successful in that, but that's only because their local accents tend to be closer to NSG than any other.
- Also, isn't it the case that SSG and ASG actually aren't truly local? I thought most southerners only treated Alemannic and Bavarian dialects as their mother tongue and SSG/ASG as something closer to a foreign language that has an overtly formal feel to it. People from Northern Germany often speak NSG (or something close to it) as their only native language. I know that doesn't change much, but it might influence the fact that NSG is perceived as the most prestigious variety.
- You're still ignoring the fact that IPA transcriptions can be allophonic and diaphonemic at the same time and that they don't have to be read completely literally. This makes many transcriptions that look like NSG not wrong if you know how to read them to get the ASG/SSG version (and it's dubious whether we should cover these here, so please address my original message).
Most of our transcriptions of SG on Wikipedia don't have regional labels and that should change if we want to retain SSG and ASG in the guide. Transcriptions such as [ˈbɛsər] must be labelled as Swiss. When you read German IPA as an Englishman, you almost always expect it to represent a NSG pronunciation, not just a "Standard German" one (again, it is dubious whether the three standards are equally prestigious and therefore useful to cover here).
It's also just wrong to say that NSG pronunciations are not standard in Switzerland and Austria, especially if the standards are truly equal (and I have doubts about that, especially when it comes to SSG). NSG is an international standard of pronunciation, also in Austria. Why would (some) Austrian journalists aspire to NSG as an ideal model of speech if that wasn't the case? Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 12:07, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
As the current trend in German linguistics and in studies of Deutsch als Fremdsprache in particular is going more towards recognizing the variation within German as a pluricentric language (and also of introducing learners to the variation between Northern- , Southern- , Swiss-, and Austrian Standard German), I am a bit baffled by the suggestion here to go in the opposite directions by prescribing a northern German pronunciation as the sole standard. And that is about all I have to add to this discussion. --Terfili (talk) 08:08, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
@Terfili: But what (or rather who) we should be concerned about is laymen who generally expect German IPA to always represent NSG. It's not our place to teach various Standard German pronunciations (Wiktionary would be a fine place for that), especially if they can't be backed up by sources and when they can be recovered from the NSG transcriptions. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 12:07, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
I do not buy your presumption about what laypeople expect. I strongly doubt that they would have the necessary knowledge about the pluricentricity of standard German in order to expect northern Standard German. Instead, I believe laypeople simply expect the transcriptions to reflect the normal pronunciation. And when it comes to Swiss places or names, the normal or most prestigious Standard German pronunciation is certainly not the one from Northern Germany, but the one from Switzerland. Naturally, it is the Swiss Standard German pronunciation that is used in the commons:Category:German pronunciation of toponyms of Switzerland.
I think your arguments based on diaphonemicity are void. Diaphonemicity only works if we can reasonably assume that potential readers are native or near-native speakers. This being the English Wikipedia, we cannot. (And of course, nobody uses diaphonemicity outside of Wikipedia.)
And now your individual points:
  • Is what I wrote about Swiss SG correct? Is it perceived as noticeably less prestigious than Austrian and especially Northern SG? – This is certainly not correct when it comes to Swiss places or names.
  • What about Swiss SG? Are there descriptions of the actual spoken standard of Switzerland? – There are Ortsnamenbücher that indicate the pronunciation of place names. They do not use obscure overly detailed phonetic symbols no laypeople will understand like this guide does.
  • What about the fact that NSG is actually an ideal that speakers from Germany (at least some of them), Belgium, Luxembourg, Namibia and some from Austria approximate their speech to? – That’s a myth.
  • I thought most southerners only treated Alemannic and Bavarian dialects as their mother tongue and SSG/ASG as something closer to a foreign language that has an overtly formal feel to it. – Nevertheless, Swiss people expect Swiss Standard German when it really concerns them, e.g. in T.V. or radio news shows. If a news anchor uses a Standard German pronunciation from Northern Germany, people will reject it.
  • You're still ignoring the fact that IPA transcriptions can be allophonic and diaphonemic at the same time and that they don't have to be read completely literally. This makes many transcriptions that look like NSG not wrong if you know how to read them to get the ASG/SSG version. – And you are still ignoring the fact that needless allophonic detail makes a transcription hard to read. Everybody knows what an [r] is, but only very few specialists know what [ʁ ɐ ɐ̯] are. Also, by entering in such allophonic depths, you will create unsurmountable ambiguity: There is no telling whether /ˈbʊrɡ/ should be transcribed as [ˈbʊɐ̯ɡ] or [ˈbʊʁɡ], or whether /ˈfyːrər/ should be transcribed as [ˈfyːʁɐ] or [ˈfyɐ̯ʁɐ] – the choice is entirely arbitrary.
--mach 🙈🙉🙊 18:24, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: English Wikipedia isn't written for Swiss people, it's written for native and non-native speakers of English. Swiss people make up a tiny, tiny minority of that.
Diaphonemicity would be important only for native speakers of German that speak something different than NSG and for a tiny minority of learners of German that consciously choose to speak with an accent that's different from SG (which would be going against Assimil recordings, pronunciation dictionaries, etc.). Most of these aren't laymen who are native speakers of English.
Swiss SG recordings might be better suited for Wiktionary.
Learning to pronounce a foreign language is a huge effort. If Swiss SG in popular perception is truly inferior to other varieties of SG (and that does seem to be the case, based on your reaction and my limited knowledge of the subject) then we have no reason to transcribe it. Do you want laymen to make an effort just to be ridiculed for it afterwards? Maybe the reaction won't be so extreme (in fact it almost certainly won't be), but why would we want to deliberately teach Swiss SG to people who aren't aware of what they're learning? Prescribing Swiss SG pronunciation of Swiss places is WP:POVPUSHING because of Swiss SG not being neutral enough, and we don't need to have more than one German IPA in WP articles because WP is WP:NOTADICTIONARY, let alone a pronunciation dictionary of German. The simplest option is to use NSG for all of our transcriptions and to use one set of symbols for SG across all of the Wikipedia.
We can pick one source that transcribes NSG and stick to that. It can be the latest edition of Das Aussprachewörterbuch, I don't see a problem with that. It uses ⟨r⟩, which is your preference. Personally I don't like this symbol (it's overused in an inappropriate manner, there's no need to simplify transcriptions like this in 2018), but that's just my personal POV. Also, alveolar trills are way harder to produce for native speakers of English than uvular fricatives, which are by far the most common and therefore the de-facto most neutral realization of German /r/, both in NSG and Standard German as a whole. [r] is regionally marked and it's associated with Southern German and the speech of the elderly.
Also, who decides which allophonic detail is needless and why does it have to be the allophones of /r/? Learning to produce the low schwa and to reliably distinguish it from the high schwa is absolutely essential to anyone who wants to speak NSG (which is the majority of learners of German). Sorry, but your Swiss bias is showing here (and above). It's time for other people to join the discussion (if they so choose) so that we can read more perspectives on the issue. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 21:50, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
  • If Swiss SG in popular perception is truly inferior to other varieties of SG ...
So how do you know what "popular perception" is? I mean, this is an encyclopedia, not some populist mobocrat's press conference.
Incidentally, my perception is that Swiss SG is on a par with other varieties of SG. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 00:19, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
@LiliCharlie: I don't know for sure, I asked a question. What I am aware of is that Swiss accents are often mocked by people from the north (and perhaps some Austrians). Unless I'm mistaken, we don't want our readers to make effort to pronounce SSG just to be mocked for it afterwards. We need to use a variety that's acceptable everywhere, and we're not a pronunciation dictionary of German. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 10:38, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
I don't believe that anyone with the slightest trace of a foreign accent runs the risk of getting mocked for an apical trill or more or less voiced syllable-final obstruents. People who speak like that are by no means rare in any part of the German sprachraum. Who are those mockers you have in mind? Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 11:59, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

This thread is giving me a bit of a tl;dr glaze, but I do want to interject to say that it's not a good idea to treat non-English transcriptions the same way we do English as far as phonetic imprecision. NSG uses uvular rhotics and it would be misleading to write it with ⟨r⟩ just because some lay readers might not be familiar with it. The point of this IPA guide is to familiarize such readers with IPA symbols they may not understand. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 04:11, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

@Aeusoes1: Mach's point is that ⟨ʁ⟩ is too exclusionary a symbol, but that's only because he chooses to read it too literally. Besides, it's not like any other realization is as common as [ʁ]. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 10:38, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
I am not advocating that we drop [ʁ ɐ ɐ̯], even though I we would be better off without them (for the reasons I have: complicated, not well-known, not normally used in dictionaries, ambiguities). All I am saying is we should not prescribe them (or [ʔ]) exclusively.
Do you want laymen to make an effort just to be ridiculed for it afterwards? – No, and that is precisely why I think it is very important we keep the freedom of choice between [r] or [ʁ ɐ ɐ̯]. Imagine we exclusively prescribe [ʁ ɐ ɐ̯], and an English native speaker layperson tries to impress someone from Bern by making an effort to correctly pronounce the city’s name. Having exclusively prescribed [ʁ ɐ ɐ̯], our IPA guide happens to say [bɛɐ̯n]. That layperson’s best effort – approximately /ˈbɛɑːn/ – will be ridiculed for being a totally inappropriate pronunciation from Northern Germany. – Or worse, if our IPA guide said [bɛʁn] (you can never know which one will be chosen because of the inherent ambiguity), the approximation /bɛxn/ would be ridiculed even more for sounding like eastern Swiss German, which has lower prestige still. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 17:56, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: If you think that the SSG pronunciation of "Bern" is the only correct one then I really don't know how to respond to that. It's a completely unreasonable statement that has nothing to do with the reality. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 02:18, 7 June 2019 (UTC)
I have never said such a thing. It is certainly not the only pronunciation, but it is the most appropriate one. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 04:25, 7 June 2019 (UTC)

@J. 'mach' wust: I'm not gonna address your latest message yet (though I will do that eventually), but you should know that edit warring without addressing my edit summaries is dishonest and probably violates WP:GASLIGHTING as well. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 10:42, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

This guide is supposed to cover standard German in all its varieties. Your removal one of the major national varieties is a major disruption and cannot go without discussion. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 10:48, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: I removed it because the way we transcribe it is very different to what the JIPA article says. To call it a disruption is, again, dishonest. We've already had a discussion and you haven't presented a good way of representing ASG in this guide that'd be based on reputable sources (including pronunciation dictionaries). Therefore, it needs to be removed because it's an OR transcription that doesn't match the source. All of my arguments are above.
We can use the prescriptive set of symbols for Northern Standard German for ASG. It's good enough. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 10:51, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
The basis for your argument is that the JIPA is the ultimate source for Austrian German. That is of course untenable.
My point, which you have not yet addressed, is that only showing the flags of Germany and Switzerland is de facto excluding Austria. I agree that you could largely use the same symbols for Germany German and for Austrian German, and I agree that the multi-column layout was a bad idea to start with – as I have said, I would much prefer just mentioning the variants and then explaining in the footnotes what they are about. However, making it appear as if this guide were only for Germany and Switzerland is wrong on a fundamental level.
And please try to abstain from name-calling. It is not helpful in any way. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 10:59, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: I apologize for getting worked up.
Maybe I did sound like that, but at the same time we can't ignore it. JIPA is an important phonetic journal and that article is very recent.
I'll check Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch and will get back to you. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 18:12, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: SSG and ASG were added in this diff, AFAICS without any prior discussion. I think that I've already proven that the ASG column is wrong on multiple levels. "We can't just include German SG and Swiss SG and leave out the Austrian standard" is, I'm afraid, a non-argument. We have multiple sources that contradict each other on what ASG is specifically. The situation of including GSG and SSG and leaving out ASG is easily fixed by removing SSG as well. WP isn't a pronunciation dictionary of German and native speakers of German anywhere will be happy to hear their language spoken by a non-native speaker, no matter the accent they use (the NSG one is the safest bet in each case).
It takes deliberate misunderstanding of the IPA to assume that you can't convert those transcriptions to regional German, e.g. when you need to ignore the glottal stops, read [n] as [ŋ] etc.
Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch backs up some of the statements made in the JIPA article. It's a pain to read it because my German isn't very good. But I think that we have enough reasons not to transcribe ASG on WP and just use the NSG transcription. It's correct everywhere in Germany and Austria and speakers from Switzerland will recognize it as being native. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 02:18, 7 June 2019 (UTC)
I have never liked the multi-column layout. But you should not use the layout switch to sneak in your prescriptivist point of view. I have therefore really restored what was there before the layout change: both [ʁ] and [r]. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 04:25, 7 June 2019 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Then let's just follow Duden and use ⟨r⟩ which our readers will be free to interpret however they wish. Plus, the alveolar trill (which, as you know, is the canonical value of the IPA symbol ⟨r⟩) is certainly not wrong nor unused in Germany, it's perfectly standard (though not always local) in all regions of Germany and Austria, it's also common in Switzerland.
I can partially get behind your proposal of writing [ɪr, ʏr, ʊr, ɛr, œr, ɔr, ar] because /r/ in those sequences is either a uvular approximant (rather than a fricative) or forms a centering diphthong [Vɐ̯] with the preceding vowel, depending on the region and speaker (other realizations are also found, including the trilled/tapped ones). Both pronunciations are considered correct - Duden writes these [ɪr, ʏr, ʊr, ɛr, œr, ɔr, ar], whereas Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch prefers [ɪʶ, ʏʶ, ʊʶ, ɛʶ, œʶ, ɔʶ, aʶ], which is a non-IPA way of writing [Vʁ̞] (a vowel followed by a uvular approximant).
[iːɐ̯, yːɐ̯, uːɐ̯, eːɐ̯, øːɐ̯, oːɐ̯, ɛːɐ̯] and [ɐ] should be transcribed just like they are right now, per Duden and DA. Their transcriptions cover much more than the prescriptive German German accent, you just have to read them in a non-literal way. /aːr/ can be safely written [aːr] because the diphthong [aːɐ̯] simply doesn't exist for many native speakers, and neither does [aɐ̯]. Rather, both /aːr/ and /ar/ can merge with /aː/, which is normally the case in Austria and probably also for many speakers of NSG. Writing [ar] and [aːr] allows the reader to correctly identify the underlying phonemes and then read the transcription however he wishes to (either [aʁ̞, aːʁ̞], with a uvular approximant or [aː] for both).
I think that we've agreed on the fact that ASG should be transcribed the same as NSG. Sources are too contradictory as to what exactly defines ASG and many of the features described in the JIPA paper apply to colloquial German German as well. These can be dealt with in notes, and I think that we can do the same with SSG. Roger Federer, Schweizerpsalm and Freiburg im Üechtland can be safely transcribed [ˈrɔdʒɐ ˈfeːdərɐ], [ʃvaɪ̯tsɐˈpsalm] and [ˌfraɪ̯bʊrk ʔɪm ˈʔyːɛçtlant]. [ɐ] can be readily mapped to [ər] by speakers of SSG, they can ignore the glottal stops (if "Freiburg im Üechtland" were transcribed in either of the main pronunciation dictionaries of German, the glottal stops would be there) and lack of final fortition is a feature that can be found in many if not all Southern German varieties, not just SSG (in ASG it's variable). I'm not sure why we'd need to transcribe the lack of final fortition and ignore e.g. two varieties of the low central vowels found in Bavaria or two varieties of /aɪ̯/ and /aʊ̯/ in Swabia, both of which are features of the corresponding regional standards of pronunciation (which are as regional as SSG, it's just that neither of those is a national standard - then again, we don't deal with Luxembourgish SG either, which is probably similar to the regional standard of Western Germany).
Again, much can be done by just expanding the notes. I don't know why the lack of distinction between [ɛː] and [eː] (observed in millions of speakers in Germany and Austria) should be treated as any different than the lack of distinction between [ɐ] and [ər] or between [ʔ] and a phonetic zero. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 15:05, 7 June 2019 (UTC)
The unspoken assumption behind all your proposals is that there should be a single standard transcription for German pronunciatin on the English Wikipedia. As I have said over and over again, I do not agree with that point of view. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 08:51, 8 June 2019 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: There's a difference between enforcing a single standard transcription (or transcriptions, if we transcribed multiple varieties of Standard German - see Help:IPA/Portuguese and similar guides for comparison) for German pronunciation (per MOS:PRON, this isn't my POV) and transcribing multiple standards of German pronunciation, especially if you don't explicitly label the latter (at least when you're not transcribing NSG).
Das Aussprachewörterbuch, Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch, German Wiktionary and other works on German phonetics and phonology (Wiese's Phonology of German is another example) all use one set of symbols, whatever it consists of. Whether we choose to religiously follow any of those sources or to mix those transcriptions up is irrelevant as long as we're being consistent and the symbols we use are found in contemporary sources. What would be the benefit of allowing our editors to transcribe German however they wish (MOS:PRON aside?)
Your problem seems to be just that: a selectively literal reading of our transcriptions. Whether we choose to write the consonantal variety of /r/ with ⟨r⟩ or ⟨ʁ⟩ does not mean that that symbol can only symbolize an alveolar trill or a voiced uvular fricative to the exclusion of everything else. That literal reading of those symbols goes against both the principles of the IPA and the pronunciation dictionaries themselves. In Das Aussprachewörterbuch the authors state clearly that when they write [ɡɛrn] the transcription stands not only for [ɡɛrn] (with an alveolar trill) but also [ɡɛɐ̯n] (the most common realization in Germany and Austria), [ɡɛʁn], [ɡɛʀn], etc. The same applies to [ɡɛʶn] - the corresponding transcription from Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch.
I don't know what to do with SSG, but given the contradictory descriptions of ASG and the fact that many of its features are present in colloquial NSG as well (and therefore are already covered by our transcription) there seems to be little to no need to differentiate between ASG and NSG on WP. In SSG, we have a noticeable lack of glottal stops, r-vocalization and final fortition. We also have different vowel qualities, perhaps a lack of distinction between the short lax [ɪ] and the short tense [i] and other similar pairs, l-velarization (perhaps variable from region to region). [ɛː] and [eː] are separate phonemes, as in NSG but not necessarily ASG. The lack of glottal stops and r-vocalization is easily dealt with by not reading the NSG transcriptions in a literal manner. The only problematic feature is the lack of syllable-final fortition.
Transcriptions containing e.g. the Swiss diphthong [yə̯] can be simply enclosed within the IPA template, again per MOS:PRON. I think those are rare enough that they won't be a major issue for us. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 12:46, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
You are claiming that your point of view is backed by MOS:PRON. However, what MOS:PRON really (and in my opinion rightfully) says is that “[f]or foreign-language pronunciations, a phonetic transcription is normally used”. German is a pluricentric language with different standard pronunciations. Obviously, for a phonetic transcription there is no other way but to phonetically represent these differences. That is just how phonetic transcriptions work (and I am sure you know the difference between phonetic and phonemic transcriptions).
What would be the benefit of allowing our editors to transcribe German however they wish (MOS:PRON aside?) I have never said that our editors should transcribe the different varieties of standard German “however they wish”. Instead, I think we should allow for a reasonable amount of variation within a set of traditionally used symbols. What I have in mind are the following:
  • Different ways of transcribing /r/: [r ʁ ɐ]
  • Transcribing [ʔ] or not
  • Differentiating between /eː/ and /ɛː/ or not
  • Transcribing final fortition or not
There are at least three main benefits in allowing the different phonetic transcriptions for the different standard varieties:
  1. For place names (and other things that are tied to a locality) using anything other than the local standard German pronunciation will mislead non-locals.
  2. For place names (and other things that are tied to a locality) using anything other than the local standard German pronunciation will offend the locals.
  3. Allowing different transcriptions accurately reflects the current academic consensus: that standard German is a pluricentric language with differences, among other things, in pronunciation.
Whether we choose to write the consonantal variety of /r/ with ⟨r⟩ or ⟨ʁ⟩ does not mean that that symbol can only symbolize an alveolar trill or a voiced uvular fricative to the exclusion of everything else. Please have a look at Template:IPA-de and the pages that use it. You will notice that it uses square brackets to enclose the pronunciation. This signals that we are using phonetic transcriptions, which means that the signs are supposed to represent their IPA values. Now if we provide some hidden-away pronunciation guide with some hidden-away footnote saying that the signs really represent something else, then I think we are not being helpful to our readers at all. To the contrary, I think that we would be very misleading. Furthermore, it would be totally unnecessary, given that we can easily allow for different transcriptions to be used (as we are doing right now).
That literal reading of those symbols goes against both the principles of the IPA and the pronunciation dictionaries themselves. Regarding the IPA, I have no clue what principles you might possibly refer to. The IPA is, by its very nature, a phonetic alphabet, not a random collection of meaningless arbitrary signs. Regarding the dictionaries, there are dictionaries, unfortunately, that exclusively choose a single variety of standard German for all their transcriptions, or other dictionaries that really use phonemic transcriptions even though they employ square brackets. No matter. We do not need to repeat the shortcomings of these dictionaries.
Allow me to ask you back for once: What possible harm is there in continuing to allow a transcription of the different pronunciations of standard German? I fail to see any harm whatsoever – all I see are the various benefits I have mentioned. Why are you so resolutely advocating for uniformity? --mach 🙈🙉🙊 14:21, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: Please read User:Nardog and tell me what you think about it. You're basing your messages on a faulty understanding of how the IPA works. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 15:05, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
I understand very well what the IPA is. Please answer my question: What possible harm is there in continuing to allow a transcription of the different pronunciations of standard German? --mach 🙈🙉🙊 15:12, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: I'll answer that when you read his user page. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 15:19, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
Of course I have read it. It is not relevant to this discussion. Please do not embarass yourself by forcing me to demonstrate you point by point how it is not relevant. Instead, stop evading and answer my question. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 15:23, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: If you can't see how it's relevant to this discussion then we have nothing to discuss. I don't want to go around in circles. Your messages seem to be deliberately misleading. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 15:54, 9 June 2019 (UTC)

───────────────────────── If my skimming of the thread is correct, it sounds like Mach would like us to transcribe German in a more permissible way with regional variation in e.g. the rhotics while Kb would prefer having one pronunciation to either reflect this variation in pronunciations in a more abstract way or use one SG variant over others because of its prestige. There is merit to both of these approaches, but if we are going to go with Mach's approach, we want the guide here to be clear about when to use variant over another and how to transcribe each variant. Despite what (it seems like) Mach is saying, the IPA and our in-house IPA policy do permit the use of characters in a diaphonemic way, even for other languages, but readers familiar with the IPA are primed to interpreting brackets as phonetic transcription and so this nuance might get lost on them. I lean towards one pronunciation for the sake of simplicity and verifiability, so the question I guess is what benefit towards incorporating this variation would outweigh the burden that comes from this added complexity? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:19, 9 June 2019 (UTC)

@Kbb2: While it is clearly the standard of some German transcription systems to use /r/ in slashes to represent [r ʁ ʀ ɐ], do any use [r] in square brackets with the same meaning? Some of these sounds diverge very widely from the narrowest interpretation of the symbol ⟨r⟩. Or are there other phonetic transcription systems that use symbols to represent sounds that are as different from the narrowest interpretation of the symbols as [r] is from [ʁ ʀ ɐ]? Is the level of imprecision that is permitted in a phonemic transcription also permitted in a phonetic transcription?

The quote on User:Nardog's user page that you may have seen as bearing out your point gives the example of two phonetic transcriptions, [tʃɛkðəlɛnzwɛɫ] and [tʃe̞ʔ͡kð̞əlɛ̃nzwæ̠ɫ], of which the latter is very narrow. The differences between the two transcriptions involve whether the indication of precise details of tongue position, secondary articulation, glottal closure, nasalization. They don't involve something like the difference between a coronal or an uvular place of articulation, or a trill consonant and a vowel. So to justify the assertion that the level of imprecision you are arguing for is regular IPA practice, other examples would be helpful. — Eru·tuon 18:58, 9 June 2019 (UTC)

@Erutuon: It was just an example (read the discussion above for more examples of Mach's literal understanding of the IPA), but Das Aussprachewörterbuch has always used ⟨r⟩ that way. Really, what I meant was that whatever symbol you choose for the consonantal variety of /r/ (e.g. the variety of /r/ that is a consonant regardless of the variety of SG), the reader is never required to interpret it according to the canonical IPA value of that symbol.
With that being said, ⟨ʁ⟩ is a superior choice to me. The consonantal /r/ is uvular for the vast majority of native speakers of German, and it's still spreading (Munich is becoming a sort of a uvular enclave in the region due to the amount of immigrants from other regions, though even that description may be already somewhat outdated). The majority of speakers of NSG and ASG use the uvular fricative and it's a possible realization in Switzerland. The difference between uvular and alveolar rhotic is not and has not ever been phonemic in Modern German, and so I see little reason to use more than one symbol for the consonantal variety of /r/. I said that we could perhaps use ⟨r⟩ just to end one of the arguments with Mach, but now I prefer ⟨ʁ⟩ for the sake of clarity.
Now, the issue with /r/-vocalization is a bit complicated. The long vowels + /r/ are all vocalized, so they should be written [iːɐ̯], etc. But /aːr/ isn't [aːɐ̯], but either [aːʁ] (with an approximant rather than a fricative) or a bare [aː], in which case it falls together with /aː/. If /ar/ is vocalized, then it falls together with those two as well, at least in NSG and ASG. The supposed diphthongs [aːɐ̯] and [aɐ̯] are probably alien to many speakers of German, much more alien than a phonemic /ɛː/. If a speaker with a uvular /r/ really differentiates between /aː/ on one hand and /aːr/ and /ar/ on the other, the difference lies in the final consonant, which is a uvular approximant. When it comes to transcription, Duden writes those as [aː, aːɐ̯, ar], whereas Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch uses a more reasonable transcription [aː, aːʶ, aʶ] (the superscript voiced uvular fricative stands for an approximant).
The short vowels + /r/ traditionally weren't vocalized in SG, producing [ɪʁ] etc. (again, with an approximant rather than a fricative). In contemporary SG, they're very often vocalized to [Vɐ̯] - except /ar/, which merges with /aː/ and /aːr/ to [aː]. The diphthong [aɐ̯] is rare, and my theory is that sources write [aɐ̯] and [aːɐ̯] instead of [aː, aː] in order to facilitate identification of the underlying phonemes. Both Duden and DeA write those with the consonantal symbols ⟨r⟩ and ⟨ʶ⟩. I've seen many times e.g. [ʊʁ] replaced with ⟨ʊɐ̯⟩ on the grounds that "it's vocalized" or "it's not pronounced with a consonant". I wonder whether those editors can tell a difference between a uvular approximant and a non-syllabic [ɐ̯] (which really is [ɐ̯] or a vowel very close to it, *not* [ə̯], [ɨ̯] or [ɤ̯]). Just because there's no friction typical for syllable-initial varieties of /r/ it doesn't mean that it's a vowel.
I propose that we write the consonantal /r/ with ⟨ʁ⟩, the variably vocalized one (after all short vowels including /a/ and the long /aː/) with ⟨ʁ⟩ and the mandatorily vocalized one with ⟨ɐ̯⟩. The /ər/ sequence should be written with ⟨ɐ⟩. Speakers of regional varieties of German and the tiny minority (if not less than that) of learners of German that want to speak a specific regional accent can interpret those symbols however they wish. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 20:27, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
Okay, so Das Aussprachewörterbuch uses ⟨r⟩, but I was asking about how broad IPA phonetic transcriptions should be, and it's not clear to me whether their transcriptions are phonetic or phonemic or some weird hybrid because they don't seem to use any bracketing. — Eru·tuon 21:33, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
@Erutuon: They are, of course, phonetic. Any transcription of German that uses ⟨ɐ̯⟩ (with the non-syllabic diacritic) or marks syllabic consonants is phonetic by definition. Hall (2003) also uses ⟨r⟩ like Duden. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 15:59, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
@Kbb2: I am sorry I got heated up. I do not like being accused out of the blue of ignoring a text I have read, especially when my own repeated questions keep being ignored.
Here is why I think Nardog’s quotes are not relevant:
  • 1.1: This quote is an interesting illustration of how a consensus about the adequate level of detailedness can change over time. Back then, it was apparently common both French _fil_ and English _fill_ be transcribed as [fil]. Nowadays, it is much more common to differntiate them as [fil] vs. [fɪl] – which is a fruit of Gimson’s compromise after decades of debates over the precise use of signs (which very much matter to the serious linguists). This does not tell us anything about how we should handle diatopic variation, though.
  • 1.2: There is a range of possible transcriptions between a phonemic transcription and a super-detailed narrow transcription. This does not tell us anything about how we should handle diatopic variation.
  • 1.3, first quote, 1: This is an argument for using a phonemic transcription. It is funny how Kbb2 instead argues for transcribing a surprising amount of allophonic variation that will even blur phonemes. Kbb2 proposes that the German phoneme /r/ should be transcribed in roughly three different ways: by itself, it can be either [ʁ] or [ɐ̯] (it is inherently difficult to draw a clear line), and in the sequence /ər/, it can be [ɐ] as long as it is not [əʁ]. This does not tell us anything about how we should handle diatopic variation.
  • 1.3, first quote, 2: This is an argument for using the same signs for similar sounds in different languages. It is probably not meant to apply to diatopic variation, but it might be read in such a way. By choosing to represent the allophonic variation of one variety, Kbb2 looses the opportunity of having one same sound that could be found in several varieties.
  • 1.3, second quote: This is nice and concise, but it does not tell us anything about how we should handle diatopic variation – unless we understand that “[t]he IPA is designed to be a set of symbols for representing all the possible sounds of the world’s languages” including the different sounds of the different national varieties of German.
  • 1.4: Again arguing for phonemic transcriptions, which is again at odds with Kbb2’s insistence on representing allophonic variation, and again this does not tell us anything about how we should handle diatopic variation.
  • 1.5: There are different ways to syllabify English. This does not tell us anything about how we should handle diatopic variation.
My initial question remains: Why? What can we possibly gain by changing our practice and prescribing a single standard? To reiterate my arguments once again, I see nothing but disadvantages: It will mislead readers, it will upset users, and it goes against linguistic consensus. What are the advantages? What do you hope to gain? I honestly fail to see anything. I also think it is very unbalanced that we should represent allophonic variation but not diatopic variation. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 21:21, 9 June 2019 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: It's not "me" but "pronunciation dictionaries" and other reputable sources. I'm arguing for following them, in one way or another. Per WP:NPOV it's on you to provide arguments to the contrary.
Transcribing German SG, Austrian SG and Swiss SG in the appropriate (or would-be appropriate) articles isn't our current practice. Our current practice is to rarely and inconsistently change German SG to Swiss SG and that's it (or perhaps it's more often than "rarely" - either way, we're not being consistent and transcriptions that diverge from NSG aren't explicitly labelled). The only articles in which I saw ASG being actually ones are the ones I've already changed to German SG for the reasons I've mentioned above. There were about 20 of them. Many entries (e.g. Salzburg) are transcribed in NSG.
Why are you (again) ignoring the inconsistency with which ASG is described in various sources and the free variation in it (see the JIPA article and DeA)? We don't have a consensus to represent all 3 varieties at all. There are multiple issues with representing ASG.
Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation#Other languages says that [I]f the language you're transcribing has such an IPA key, use the conventions of that key. If you wish to change those conventions, bring it up for discussion on the key's talk page. Creating transcriptions unsupported by the key or changing the key so that it no longer conforms to existing transcriptions will confuse readers. This means that we shouldn't represent other varieties than NSG if these aren't explicitly laid out in the key (good luck doing that with ASG) and probably also explicitly labelled in the articles. Linguisticly aware readers really do expect German IPA to represent Northern Standard German, as per most German dictionaries, which in my experience are more uniform than the English ones. I've never encountered any dictionary that would transcribe German in an accent different from NSG. English dictionaries transcribe RP, GA and sometimes also Canadian English and Australian English. To the best of my knowledge, there's no such variation in German.
The standard described in pronunciation dictionaries isn't really Northern Standard German but a non-regional Standard German, spoken or at least approximated by millions of people from Northern Germany, Southern Germany and Austria (probably also Luxembourg and Eastern Belgium) alike, just as it is the case with RP. It's a non-regional accent like RP in England, Parisian French in France, Central Standard Swedish in Sweden and Northern Standard Dutch in the Netherlands, that's why it's used in the news and it's taught to foreigners. This means (or seems to mean) that NSG, unlike other standards isn't regionally marked in any major way. Its features are seen as prestigious and non-regional. Speakers with pronounced southern features are sometimes/often regarded (or they regard themselves) as non-native speakers of SG [their native languages are regional, non-standard dialects of German], even though they can write, read and understand spoken SG like a native. So this may also contribute here: the fact that those who don't speak any dialects generally speak SG with an accent that is a close approximation of the non-regional variety of SG - but it doesn't change the fact that it's still non-regional. You have the exact same situation in Randstad in the Netherlands, where the concentration of speakers of Northern Standard Dutch is the highest, but it's still regarded as a non-regional form of Dutch. It's impossible to tell whether you're from Amsterdam, The Hague, Groningen or Maastricht (all have different accents of SD and, in the case of the last two, regional dialects) or if you're a flawless non-native speaker if you speak NSD. The same applies in the case of NSG: it's impossible to tell whether you're from Hannover, Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Vienna or Salzburg if you use it.
The JIPA article on Austrian Standard German states clearly that ASG has traditionally been geared towards German Standard German and that goes back to at least the year 1750. Austrian newsreaders are instructed according to the norms of Das Aussprachewörterbuch and Siebs's Deutsche Aussprache. Bühnenaussprache. This means that pronouncing Bern [ˈbɛʁn], [ˈbɛʀn], [ˈbɛrn] or [ˈbɛɐ̯n] says nothing about where you come from as all four variants are acceptable in the non-regional Standard German (which even a Swiss person can speak, if they choose to). There's nothing inappropriate in using this accent (even if it makes you sound formal) in any situation when you're a foreigner. It's misleading to suggest that someone will take offense if you say [ˈbɛʁn] or [ˈbɛɐ̯n]. I'd walk away if they did because it's an utterly unreasonable position to hold, no different than expecting a foreigner to understand or speak one of the Alemannic dialects of Switzerland when they just speak Standard German (this also contradicts the idea that all forms of SG are equal - if they're equal [and they aren't, NSG is more neutral and prestigious than any variety and it's non-regional], there's nothing to be offended by in this context).
Our goal is to represent German in its most neutral form that's acceptable everywhere. It's neither insulting nor inappropriate to speakers of other accents. WP isn't a pronunciation dictionary of German, and they all describe this non-regional accent anyway. I think it's WP:UNDUE to give such importance to SSG if SSG transcriptions can be easily derived from the NSG ones just by reading them in a non-literal way, final fortition aside (of course, first you have to be willing to do that, and to be willing to do that you need to be aware that it's possible. I don't buy that you aren't aware of that, not after all these years you've been dealing with IPA and the amount of explanations I've provided. If you still think that writing [ʔ] is 'prescribing a glottal stop' then I guess that's your problem. It's not true, never was, and never will be. Send an e-mail to the International Phonetic Association if you think otherwise, they should provide you with satisfactory citations [and since my position is common sense and it's shared among linguists, including the authors of modern material on SG, I won't bother discussing that particular aspect of IPA anymore]).
I've asked editors of German Wiktionary to come and join this discussion. We'll see what they have to say. If you ask me, there's no better option than to replace all SSG transcriptions with NSG on WP. Places such Üechtland are best dealt with with the IPA template: [ˈyə̯xtland̥]. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 20:28, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
@Kbb2: Let me try again. You wish to find a single standard transcription that works for all varieties of standard German. However, the proposals you have made so far are biased towards specific varieties of standard German because of the phonetic and allophonic features they use:
  • /ər/ is represented with the allophones [əʁ] or [ɐ]
  • /r/ is represented with the allophones [ʁ] or [ɐ̯]
  • [ʔ] is always used even though its status as a phoneme is being debated
One might argue that a transcription the other way round would be equally biased. However, there are two different things going on. When a single sign is supposed to be read in multiple ways, e.g. ⟨r⟩ as [ʁ] or [ɐ] (besides [r]), it means only accepting other readings. When different signs are supposed to be read in the same way, e.g. both ⟨ʁ⟩ and ⟨ɐ̯⟩ as [r] (besides [ʁ] and [ɐ̯]), it also means ignoring an explicit differentiation.
The number of speakers of the different varieties of standard German may differ noticeably. However, there is a clear consensus, at least among linguists, that this does not make any of them better or more standard than the others. There is no super-regional standard opposed to mere “regional varieties of German”. All varieties are regional.
Many people identify strongly with their place of origin. Prescribing that e.g. their hometown be transcribed in a way that uses phonetic and allophonic features of a foreign variety will be perceived as imposing and arrogant. By contrast, people who do not speak German have no indication that these phonetic and allophonic features are not from the standard German variety used in that town, but from a different variety of standard German used in another country. I see no reason why we should change our current practice. I think we should keep transcribing local German names in the respective local variety of standard German. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 20:31, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Just so we're clear: this isn't a reply to my post but an addendum to one of Mach's previous posts. I've already addressed some if not most of the points he's raised in this message - see above. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 20:49, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Your contribution does not answer my contribution at all. To the contrary, my contribution is a very valid response to yours, especially to your sad insistence that Northern standard German is superior to other varieties of standard German. --mach 🙈🙉🙊 21:00, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
@J. 'mach' wust: This reply reassures me that your only agenda here is preservation of SSG transcriptions. You have no interest in an honest discussion, which is too bad. If nobody else replies I'll start replacing SSG with NSG in a couple of weeks. There's no consensus nor any strong reason to differentiate the two on WP. Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 21:03, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
I concur with mach. Why should we use a foreign standard if a well-defined national standard is available? We don't use the standard of Spain for the entire Spanish-speaking world, nor that of Portugal for the entire Portuguese-speaking world, nor that of the PR of China for the entire Mandarin-speaking world. And many of our users will have noticed this and will expect Wikipedia to follow this policy throughout. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 21:22, 11 June 2019 (UTC)
Me, too, concur with mach and LiliCharlie. I strongly reject your idea, Kbb2. German is a pluricentric language, and that's acknowledged by numerous publications. Switzerland and Austria have their own rules about pronouncing Standard German; see e.g. Schweizerhochdeutsch (= Swiss Standard German) by Hans Bickel and Christoph Landolt, 2nd ed. Dudenverlag (!), Berlin 2018, p. 99–104 and the long bibliography there. Your proposal is like replacing the U.S. pronunciation of U.S. place names by the U.K. pronunciation – a no-go. --Freigut (talk) 09:25, 13 June 2019 (UTC)

Relevant discussion at Talk:Mid central vowel#Challenging the recent edits by Kbb2, especially concerning German[edit]

Nuvola apps edu languages.png Relevant discussion atTalk:Mid central vowel#Challenging the recent edits by Kbb2, especially concerning German

--mach 🙈🙉🙊 17:02, 4 November 2018 (UTC)

French as English Examples?[edit]

Why is French the main go-to for sounds which are apparently not available in English? How would the average English speaker know how the 'an' in 'chansons' is pronounced? --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 04:52, 16 April 2019 (UTC)

Yes, it doesn't make sense to say a French sound is an English equivalent. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 15:53, 16 April 2019 (UTC)

Cat vs father[edit]

Listen please:
AVS (talk) 04:50, 16 July 2019 (UTC)

@Avernarius: Right, the trap vowel in English cat, accent is a perfect illustration of Standard German /ɛ/ [ɛ] in Ende, hätte. Please listen to Amy Walker.😉 Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 09:57, 16 July 2019 (UTC)
Sorry – deutsches Sprach schweres Sprach, dass die 'der' 'die' 'das' der Teufel hol ...
but there is also a difference between -1 Ende and -2 hätte: -1 rather like 'pension', -2 battle. Yours AVS (talk) 10:51, 16 July 2019 (UTC)
@Avernarius: Not unless you speak with a Western Swiss accent. There's a difference in spelling but not pronunciation (compare English 'bed' vs. 'bread'). The recordings of Ende and hätte have the same vowels, as expected (people on the recordings speak Standard German). Kbb2 (ex. Mr KEBAB) (talk) 12:09, 16 July 2019 (UTC)
Ouch, since 1966, I'm living in Kebabvillage Berlin. AVS (talk) 12:27, 16 July 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia is an encyclopædia that depends on reliable sources, not on where users have chosen to settle. — My reply was intended to show that this help page is limited to a couple of very similar Standard German accents targetwise, but not to RP, General American or any other native English accent departurewise. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 12:55, 16 July 2019 (UTC)