Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

"Squrrrrr … skraaaawl … squirruh … SQUOOW!"

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Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#1  Postby cherries » Mar 08, 2012 8:38 pm

Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

"Squrrrrr … skraaaawl … squirruh … SQUOOW!"

As YouTube videos all but prove, Germans have a really hard time pronouncing "squirrel." After nailing the "squ-," chaos ensues.

In an episode of the British TV show "Top Gear," host Jeremy Clarkson jokingly suggested that asking people to pronounce the word would be a surefire way to identify undercover German spies. "No German, no matter how well they speak English, can say 'squirrel,'" Clarkson asserted.

Exceptions to the rule notwithstanding, why is the name of small, bushy tailed rodents so difficult for the Deutsche? [See video]
Carlos Gussenhoven, a phonologist — a linguist who studies the sounds used in different languages — at Radboud University in the Netherlands, believes the challenge lies in squirrel's syllable structure.

Linguists break words into clusters — groups of consonants that have no intervening vowels. In German, "-rl" is an end cluster, Gussenhoven explained. It comes at the end of a syllable, as in the common German name Karl, rather than forming a syllable of its own. Thus German speakers try to translate the two-syllable English word "squirrel" into the monosyllabic German sound "skwörl " in the same way that "squirm" becomes "skwörm." cont.http://www.livescience.com/18932-germans-squirrel.html
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#2  Postby Animavore » Mar 08, 2012 8:41 pm

I know some Germans! This is going to be too funny :pulp:
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#3  Postby cherries » Mar 08, 2012 8:50 pm

i can say squirrel,no problem :coffee:
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#4  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 8:51 pm

If they're well-advised, they'll respond "Eichkatzerl".
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#5  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 8:52 pm

That was for Ani.
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#6  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 8:52 pm

cherries wrote:i can say squirrel,no problem :coffee:


Go on then. I dare you!
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#7  Postby Regina » Mar 08, 2012 8:53 pm

Evolving wrote:If they're well-advised, they'll respond "Eichkatzerl".

Oachkatzl. :coffee:
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#8  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 8:54 pm

Works too.
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#9  Postby cherries » Mar 08, 2012 8:55 pm

squirrel
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#10  Postby Mazille » Mar 08, 2012 8:55 pm

Regina wrote:
Evolving wrote:If they're well-advised, they'll respond "Eichkatzerl".

Oachkatzl. :coffee:

The tail of which would then be the Oachkatzlschwoaf. Try getting a German to properly pronounce that.
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#11  Postby cherries » Mar 08, 2012 8:56 pm

:lol:
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#12  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 9:01 pm

No English person can say "Mühe".

Well, apart from me.

And "Pfropf" seems to be a bit of a challenge too.
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#13  Postby Regina » Mar 08, 2012 9:02 pm

Try: Im Schlawwanzuch im Gaaten. :grin:
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#14  Postby The_Metatron » Mar 08, 2012 9:06 pm

Similarly, Koreans have a hell of a time with "lizard".
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#15  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 9:06 pm

I hear lizards are not terribly keen on Koreans.
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#16  Postby biscuit » Mar 08, 2012 9:15 pm

the English are not too good at saying Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch either
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#17  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 9:19 pm

Regina wrote:Try: Im Schlawwanzuch im Gaaten. :grin:


Nobody on this thread apart from you and me is going to understand this, but: When I was younger and a keen Catholic (a liberal one, OK? linkskatholisch) I did some Exerzitien (spiritual exercises) somewhere near Muenster or Osnabrueck or some such place, and every mass (which was very early each day) the faithful would be kneeling and at the requisite moment saying "Lamm Gottes, du nimmst hinwech..."

And I couldn't help giggling at the "hinwech".

Instead of "hinweg".

OK, I know it's not really funny.

But I couldn't help giggling.

Very inappropriate.
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#18  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 9:20 pm

cherries wrote:squirrel


Pretty good. Keep practising.
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#19  Postby Regina » Mar 08, 2012 9:23 pm

Of course it's funny. :lol:
It also works the other way round. A friend of mine, who's from Düsseldorf, cannot say Kirche. It's always something like Kirsche. :smile:
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Re: Why Can't Germans Say 'Squirrel'?

#20  Postby Evolving » Mar 08, 2012 9:26 pm

Didn't know that. Thought that was just Hessen and Pfalz.

How do you pronounce China and Chemie?
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