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Pronunciation of "Ich"

Is "Ich" really pronounced as "Eesh" by German Speakers? Reason I ask is because I have a book I was learning out of, that says Ich is pronounced as "Eehk", thereby emitting a "k" sound at the end instead of "sh". Can someone clear this up for me? Thanks!

August 3, 2012



@Luiseadh: The Scottish "ch" is correct in "ach", but it would be wrong in "ich". There are two different pronunciations of "ch" in German. Which one you need to use depends on the preceding vowel. Have a look at the link I posted earlier. It explains the whole thing perfectly.


The standard pronunciation is neither "eesh" nor "eehk". You can't really describe the pronunciation using English phonology because the "ch" sound does not exist in English. You might want to stop using your book. It's teaching you to speak German with an English accent. http://www.pauljoycegerman.co.uk/pronounce/consonch.html


Broken link now :( But it's been 6 years since it was posted. 2-5-19


Here you go, I found the same content mirrored elsewhere: http://joycep.myweb.port.ac.uk/pronounce/consonch.html

(Working as of 21-03-2019!)


DISCLAIMER: I can't really pronounce ich either. Anyways: /ɪç/ is the IPA for it. ç is a voiceless palatal fricative, so tongue to your palate (roof of mouth) and fricative is guiding air through a narrow passage way, in this case between your palate and tongue.


The best ways I've found to describe it are: 1. Whisper the word "yes". That soft hiss you'll hear right before the "eh" sound is the soft "ch" in German. 2. Say the name "Hugh". The very first sound should sound just like what you hear when you whisper "yes", and is the same sound as the soft "ch" in German. Check out this site for more help: http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/


A tip for British speakers, and possibly Australian/New Zealand: the 'h' in the word 'hue' is the sound you're after, albeit a little stronger, it's called a voiceless palatal fricative (you can google that term to hear examples).


Both "eekh" and "eesh" are pronounced by German speakers but it varies depending on region and accent, although neither sound exists in standard English.


"Ich" is prononced in all possible manners depending on the Region - what is much fun even for the native spakers themselves. You might hear an "ick" like in the Netherlands to an "isch" close to France.


The closest approximation I have been given, for English speakers, is the 'ch' sound in the Scottish 'loch' - which is actually a Gaelic word but commonly used in English. Hope that helps.


For British speakers, a strengthened version of the 'h' in the word 'hue' -- a voiceless palatal fricative -- is closer to the 'ch' in 'loch'.


Thanks everyone, your answers have been most helpful indeed!

(One day, I will be proficient enough to actually be able to have said that in German) ;)


when i learned it in highschool, they expained to me as eehk. But i've heard all possible combinations of it.


So, I just put the sides of my tongue to the sides of my teeth, and it sounds sounds somewhat like I have a lisp. Is that the correct way? its like putting "sh" and "ch" together in one sound?


that is confusing

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