Help:IPA/Alemannic German
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Help:IPA/Alemannic German

The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Swabian, Low Alemannic, High Alemannic and Highest Alemannic German pronunciations in resource articles. For a guide to adding IPA characters to resource articles, see {{IPA-gsw}} and Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.


  • No Alemannic dialect uses all of the sounds described in this guide.
  • Each example word is tagged with the name of the dialect from which it comes.
  • The majority of the example words are from the Zurich dialect.
  • Most Alemannic dialects are not written very often, and thus do not have official spellings. For the sake of consistency, this guide uses the Swiss German spelling convention proposed by Dieth & Schmid-Cadalbert (1986).[1]

See Bernese German phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of one of the Alemannic dialects.

IPA Examples Closest equivalent
b? Huube ['hu:b] 'bonnet' (ZH)[2] bare
ç Kicha ['kç?] 'kitchen' (Upper Swabian) hew[3]
d? Lade ['l?d] 'store' (ZH)[2] dart
f offe ['of?] 'open' (VS) foot
f: offe ['of:?] 'open' (BE) staff function
haage ['h?:] 'fence in' (ZH)[2] go
mache ['m?] 'to make' (ZH)[2][4] Scottish loch
mache ['m?] 'to make' (ZH)[2][4]
h Hand [h?nd?] 'hand' (ZH) hat
j Jaar [j?:r] 'year' (ZH) you
k Egge ['ek?] 'edge' (BS) scan
k: Egge ['?k:?] 'edge' (BE) scan
k? Kind [k?ind?] 'child' (BSG)[5] cone
kx hocke ['hokx?] 'sit' (ZH)[4] Broad cockney cake
q? hocke ['hoq] 'sit' (ZH)[4]
l maale ['m?:l?] 'to paint' (ZH) lover
l: ller ['myl:?r] 'miller' (ZH) real life
? lt ['?æ?t] 'world' (Saanenland) build
?: alli ['a?:i] 'all' (Saanenland) real life
m zaame ['ts?:m?] 'tame' (ZH) mood
m: Hammer ['ham:?r] 'hammer' (BE) film-maker
n zaane ['ts?:n?] 'to teethe' (ZH) noon
n: Sunne ['zn:?] 'sun' (BE) cleanness
? Zange ['ts] 'pliers' (ZH) ring
?: Zange ['tsa?:?] 'pliers' (BE) ring, but longer
p huupe ['hu:p?] 'to hoot' (BS) span
p: öppe ['oep:?] 'around' (BE) span
p? Pack [pkx] 'parcel' (ZH)[5] pole
pf Soipfe ['z?oi?pf?] 'soap' (ZH) cupfull
r faare ['v:r?] 'to drive' (ZH)[6] American water
r: cheerren ['xe:r:?n] 'to sweep' (Haslital)[6] Italian burro
? faare ['v:] 'to drive' (ZH)[6] French frere or Northumbrian burr
? faare ['v:] 'to drive' (ZH)[6]
besser ['b?es] 'better' (BS)[6] Scottish loch
? ändard ['end?a?d?] 'changes' (SWG)[7] RP ahead, but with pharynx constricted
s hasse ['h?s?] 'to hate' (VS) soon
s: hasse ['has:?] 'to hate' (BE) class size
? tüüsche ['ty:] 'to exchange' (VS) ship
?: Äsche ['æ?:?] 'ash' (BE) cash shortage
t Latte ['l?t?] 'lath' (BS) stand
t: Latte ['lat:?] 'lath' (BE) stand
t? Thee [t?e:] 'tea' (ZH)[5] too
ts butze ['b?uts?] 'to clean' (ZH) cats
t? tsche ['tæt] 'to clap' (ZH) chip
v? Ofe ['ov] 'oven' (ZH)[2] foot
? Wand [nd?] 'wall' (ZH) between wine and vine
?: niww [ni?:] 'new' (Haslital) between wine and vine
w Giel [iw] 'boy' (BE)[8] wine
w: Balle ['b?aw:?] 'ball' (BE)[9] roughly like bowwow
x Chatz ['x?ts] 'cat' (Simmental)[4] Scottish loch
x: lache ['lax:?] 'to laugh' (Simmental)[4] Scottish loch, but longer
? Chatz ['ts] 'cat' (BE)[4] Scottish loch
?: lache ['la?:?] 'to laugh' (BE)[4] Scottish loch, but longer
z? Hase ['h?z] 'hares' (ZH)[2] soon
nuusche ['nu:] 'to rummage' (ZH)[2] ship
IPA Examples Closest equivalent
a Affe ['af:?] 'apes' (SG)[10] art
a: schlaaffe ['la:f?] 'to sleep' (SG)[10] father
? Affe ['?f:?] 'apes' (BE)[10] art
?: schlaaffe ['l?:f?] 'to sleep' (BE)[10] father
? Mane ['m?n?] 'men' (ZH)[10] RP hot
?: maane ['m?:n?] 'to remind' (ZH)[10] RP nod
æ gäll [æl] 'isn't it?' (ZH) hat
æ: gääl [æ:l] 'yellow' (ZH) had
e Bett ['b?et] 'bed' (ZH) Scottish late
e: deene ['d?e:n?] 'stretch' (ZH) Scottish day
? Hèr [h?r] 'mister' (ZH) bet
?: hèèr [h?:r] 'from' (ZH) bed
? schwèche ['?x?] 'to weaken' (ZH)[11] about
i sibe ['z?ib] 'seven' (ZH) leaf
i: siibe ['z?i:b] 'to sieve' (ZH) leave
? Rìtter ['r?t?r] 'knight' (BE) kit
?: Rììs [r?:z?] 'giant' (BE) kid
? Òfe ['?v] 'oven' (BE) off
?: Gòòfe [':v] 'kids' (BE) dog
o hole ['hol?] 'to fetch' (ZH) Scottish oak
o: hool [ho:l] 'hollow' (ZH) Scottish stove
ø Böge ['b?ø] 'sheets of paper' (ZH) Somewhat like nurse
oe Blö?ff [b?loef] 'bluff' (ZH)
ø: Böögge ['b?ø:k?] 'fools' (ZH) Somewhat like fur
oe: tö?ö?rfe ['toe:rf?] 'to be allowed to' (ZH)
u Bruch [b?rux] 'break' (ZH) boot
u: Bruuch [b?ru:] 'custom' (ZH) food
?: Muus [m?:s] 'mouse' (BSG)[12] Modern RP goose
? Schùtt [t] 'debris' (BE) foot
?: Brùùch [b?r?:] 'break' (BE) good
y Füli ['v?yli] 'pen' (ZH) Somewhat like cute
? h?tt [h?t] 'today' (BE)
y: Füüli ['v?y:li] 'laziness' (ZH) Somewhat like feud
?: Tre ['t?:r?] 'door' (BE)
Diphthong offsets
IPA Examples English approximation
a? nia [nia?] 'never' (SWG) roughly like ear
æ? niä [niæ?] 'never' (UR)
nie [ni] 'never' (ZH)
i? frei [v?rei?] 'free' (ZH) The y-like ending in day
o? Chüo [xyo?] 'cow' (VS) The w-like ending in go
u? äu [æu?] 'also' (ZH)
y? vlöüge ['v?loey?] 'to fly' (Saanenland) Roughly like the w-like ending in go
IPA Examples Explanation
' deene ['d?e:n?] 'stretch' (ZH) Primary stress, as in deer /'dr/
? Hèrdöpfel ['h?r?d?øpf?l] 'potato' (ZH) Secondary stress, as in as in commandeer /?k?m?n'dr/


  1. ^ Cited in Fleischer & Schmid (2006:251)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Some scholars choose to transcribe the lenis obstruents with the symbols ⟨p, t, k, x, s, ?⟩, rather than ⟨b?, d?, , , v?, z?, ⟩. In that case, the fortis obstruents are transcribed ⟨p:, t:, k:, x:, s:, ?:⟩ or ⟨pp, tt, kk, xx, ss, ⟩, rather than ⟨p, t, k, x, s, ?⟩. Here, we choose to transcribe the lenis obstruents as ⟨b?, d?, , , v?, z?, ⟩, whereas the fortis obstruents are transcribed ⟨p, t, k, x, s, ?⟩. Long fortis obstruents or geminates occur in most of Switzerland except for the extreme Northeast, Wallis, and the Grisons-St. Gall Rhine valley.
  3. ^ If pronounced different from yew, cf. yew-hew merger.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h The dorsal obstruents /kx, x, / are realized as velar [kx, x, ] or uvular [q?, ?, ], depending on the dialect.
  5. ^ a b c The aspirated consonants [p?, t?, k?] occur in borrowings from Standard German (Fleischer & Schmid (2006:244)). In the dialects of Basel and Chur, an aspirated [k?] is also present in native words.
  6. ^ a b c d e The /r/ phoneme can be pronounced as an alveolar trill or an alveolar tap (with both being transcribed with ⟨r⟩ in this guide for the sake of simplicity),, a uvular trill , a voiced uvular fricative or approximant , a voiceless lenis uvular fricative . Some dialects (e.g. Zurich German) use all six realizations (Fleischer & Schmid (2006:244)).
  7. ^ In Swabian German, /r/ is realized as a uvular approximant in syllable onset, but as a pharyngeal approximant in other positions (Markus Hiller. "Pharyngeals and "lax" vowel quality" (PDF). Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache.). For simplicity, we transcribe these sounds as, respectively, [?] and [?].
  8. ^ In Bernese German, /l/ in the syllable coda is realized as .
  9. ^ In Bernese German, the geminate /l:/ is realized as .
  10. ^ a b c d e f The open vowels /a, a:/ can be front or central (with both sets transcribed as [a, a:] for simplicity), back unrounded [?, ?:] or back rounded [?, ?:], depending on the dialect.
  11. ^ The schwa /?/ occurs only in unstressed syllables.
  12. ^ In Basel German and in the dialect of Markgräflerland, /u:/ is fronted to .


  • Dauwalder, Hans (1992), Wie mma s seid und cha schriiben. Eine haslideutsche Kurzgrammatik, Meiringen: Gemeinnütziger Verein
  • Dieth, Eugen; Schmid-Cadalbert, Christian (1986), Schwyzertütschi Dialäktschrift. Dieth-Schreibung (2nd ed.), Aarau: Sauerländer
  • Fleischer, Jürg; Schmid, Stephan (2006), "Zurich German" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 36 (2): 243-253, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002441
  • Hotzenköcherle, Rudolf, ed. (1962-1997), Sprachatlas der deutschen Schweiz, Bern: Francke
  • Werlen, Iwar (1977), Lautstrukturen des Dialekts von Brig im schweizerischen Kanton Wallis, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner
  • Marti, Werner (1985), Berndeutsch-Grammatik, Bern: Francke, ISBN 3-7720-1587-5

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