Need help with a German pronounciation
May 23, 2008 1:10 PM   Subscribe

How do you pronounce the "sz" in a German word or name that begins with it, such as "Szigen" (like the festival) or "Szaggars"?
posted by bondgirl53001 to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
Just mostly as a Z, but there is a hint of a T in there.

Instead of the smile you usually make with your mouth when you say a Z, like ZEE-bra, your lips start in sort of a post-kiss shape, teeth together, tongue behind your teeth.

Szigen would be almost "Tseegen", but the t is barely perceptible.
posted by TomMelee at 1:19 PM on May 23, 2008

Are you sure you don't mean "Sziget" festival? I can't find anything about a "Szigen" festival.

The short answer one would probably pronounce both as a simple American "s" sound. But I doubt either of those words are truly German. The Sziget Festival takes place in Budapest, where Hungarian is spoken and where "sziget" means "island." It's pronounced like "seeget," more or less.

The only real hit I come up with for "Szaggars" is in relation to Robert Redford's girlfriend's name. This is a fairly unusual name, and it could be from another nationality or corrupted in some way from something else. I'd pronounce it with a straight "s" as well.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:26 PM on May 23, 2008

Actually, TomMelee is probably right. My main point was really that I don't think this "sz" is especially German in those usages.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:28 PM on May 23, 2008

"sz" isn't really a combination of letters that occurs in German words. I'm a native speaker of German and I'd just ignore the "s" and pronounce the "z" as "ts" .
posted by snownoid at 1:34 PM on May 23, 2008

Szigen and Szaggars aren't traditional german words, they sound more polish to me, though I am speculating, I don't know these particular two words. my point here is that you wouldn't commonly have german words starting with sz when speaking german.

on its own the german letter "ß" -which I think is what you're referring to by sz - is pronounced "ess-zett," which kinda sounds like sz. within a word becomes a very sharp s. you can also use "ss" to replace ß but not always vice versa. you have to use "ss" when using all caps.

the two words you referenced sound like they should be pronounced as if they began with "ts-" to me.
posted by krautland at 1:37 PM on May 23, 2008

sz is a hungarian letter, and it's pronounced as the s in sat.
posted by glip at 1:44 PM on May 23, 2008

sz in Polish is pronounced as a hard "sh", just FYI.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:02 PM on May 23, 2008

To echo others, those are not German words, and it's impossible to say how they should be pronounced without more information. What context have you seen them in?
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on May 23, 2008

"sz" isn't really a combination of letters that occurs in German words.

"Szene" being a notable exception.
posted by oaf at 7:16 PM on May 23, 2008

Germans pronounce the word "szene" as [stsene], where [ts] is an affricate along the same lines as ch (= t + sh). It's not such an easy combo for English native speakers.

Here is the pronunciation of "die Szene".
posted by kosmonaut at 7:55 PM on May 23, 2008

"Szene" being a notable exception.

Verdammt, Du hast Recht.
posted by krautland at 10:39 PM on May 23, 2008

True, but Szene is a German word and these are not, so its pronunciation is irrelevant. Still waiting for the poster to clarify.
posted by languagehat at 7:23 AM on May 24, 2008


The original question was "How do you pronounce the "sz" in a German word or name that begins with it"?

So, I believe "Szene" is quite relevant.
posted by kosmonaut at 10:17 AM on May 27, 2008

You're quite right, and I apologize for my "irrelevant." I guess I was fixated on the examples the poster gave. The poster doesn't seem to care enough to clarify, however.
posted by languagehat at 10:48 AM on May 27, 2008

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