Just like different types of music, each language has its own distinctive sound. French, often described as the “language of love,” could be compared to a soft, seductive ballad. English might be a radio-friendly pop song. But what about German? By reputation at least, the mother tongue of Bach, Beethoven and Goethe is the death metal of languages. Non-German speakers often describe it as “harsh,” “angry” and “guttural.”
This reputation is used to hilariously good effect in the videos below, which translate the same word into multiple languages, ending with German:
This video series seems to cement German’s harsh, angry “death metal” reputation. But is that reputation deserved? Not really. As you can see, the videos play on a variety of well-known, but not necessarily accurate, national stereotypes. Note the French woman eating a baguette and the exaggerated drawl of the “redneck” from the American south. According to German teacher Renate Graßtat , German as it is actually spoken sounds quite different:
“In fact, the language sounds hard if you don’t use softeners like “denn, doch, ja” etc. – words which lose their original meaning when put into a sentence just for the sake of the intonation. Nobody would say to a child crying: “Was hast du?” Try to express the same thing with “Was hast du denn?” and you will feel the difference.”
Plus, there’s the fact that the other speakers in the videos are talking normally, while the “German” actor snarls his lines.
For proof that German doesn’t have to sound scary, here’s a children’s story told in German.
Do you think German sounds “angry?”