Continuing from our last blog-
Those squiggly German cursive letters, the blocky thick printed letters, are those even the same letters as in English? Here’s the Lord’s Prayer in German, in the old German printing style called Fraktur:
“Unser Vater in dem Himel /
Dein Name werde geheiliget.
Dein Reich kome, / Dein Wille geschehe /
auff Erden / wie im Himel.”
Even Germans don’t spell it quite that way any more- that’s how Martin Luther spelled in the 1500’s. It all varies with by the when and the where and the who. Still, basically yes, German used the same alphabet as we do, just in a different font. German did add four letters, all of them variations of ones we know. The first three are the umlauts: Ä ä Ö ö Ü ü. The two dots shift the pronunciation this way:
Ä ä is generally pronounced, if it’s a short vowel, like a short eh (men = Männer), and if it is a long vowel similar to ey. The exception is the combination äu, which is pronounced “oi”.
Ö ö is a sound that English abandoned in the Middle Ages. It is pronounced the same as English eh or ey if you said them with your lips rounded like you were whistling. If you use the English er, you get modestly close to the German pronunciation. In really casual German, many Germans do pronounce ö as eh or ey. Our er pronunciation tends to irk them, but they can understand it.
Ü ü is another sound that English abandoned in the Middle Ages. It is pronounced the same as English ih or ee if you said them with your lips rounded like you were whistling. In really colloquial German, many Germans pronounce it as ih or ee (German füllen is sometimes pronounced like its English equivalent fill, and fühlen like English feelin’.
I'll get to that fourth letter in the next posting...