Module Identifier GE20420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Winifred V Davies  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite (Normally) Eligibility for entry to Level 2 German: pre-requisite for GE30420  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours 20  
  Seminars / Tutorials   4  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  60%
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: Essay c.1,500 words (30%); seminar presentation (10%).40%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
By the end of this course students will be able to read phonetic and phonemic transcriptions in IPA and will be able to make phonetic and phonemic transcriptions of German. They will be familiar with basic phonetic and phonological categories and will have a better understanding of the structure of the German sound system. They will also be aware of variation in German and be able to relate it to its extra-linguistic correlates and will be able to identify and characterise major regional/situative varieties of German. By writing an essay on a topic not covered in class, the students will learn how to carry out independent research. In addition they will learn to analyse what they have read, to structure it cohesively and coherently and to express themselves in a suitable register. The oral presentation fosters team-skills and oral expression.

Brief description

The module will start off by introducing students to German phonetics and some basic issues in German phonology. One aim of the first section of the course is to improve students' pronunciation, another aim is to help them develop a better understanding of the structure of German.

In the second section of the module students will be introduced to some of the major dimensions along which the German language varies and will be helped to develop a better understanding of the role of variation in German, and the relationship between variation and social factors. It will also enhance students' knowledge of linguistics as a science more generally. This module is a prerequisite for GE30420: Language and Society in the German-speaking Countries.


One aim of the first section of the course is to improve students' pronunciation, another aim is to help them develop a better understanding of the structure of German.

Section One

1. Phoneme Theory
Phoneme (phonemic transcription), allophone (phonetic transcription), phonetic similarity, distinctive function, commutation, minimal pairs, phoneme inventory, complementary distribution, free variation, conditioned variation.

2. Sound Description
The parts of the vocal tract, places of articulation, manners of articulation, vowel vs. consonant, vowel diagram, three main parameters for consonant description.

3. German Sounds
The consonant system of German: three -label description for each phoneme.
The vowel system of German: the place of each phoneme in a vowel diagram.

4. Connected Speech
Intonation, assimilation, deletion, weak forms.

Section Two

1. What is German? How do we distinguish languages from dialects?

2. Along what dimensions does German vary (written / spoken; age; social class; geography; formality / informality, etc.)

3. What is register? Register variation in German.

4. Regional variation in German: how is it related to register variation?

5. General tendencies in modern German, e.g. borrowing from Anglo-American.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Hall, C. (1992) Modern German Pronunciation Manchester University Press
** Recommended Background
Barbour, S./ Stevenson, P. (1990) Variation in German CUP
Braun, P. (2) (1987) Tendenzen in der deutschen Gegenwartssprache: Sprachvarietaeten Auflage, Urban-Taschenbuecher.
Clyne, M. (1984) Language and Society in the German-speaking Countries CUP
Clyne, M. (1995) The German Language in a Changing Europe CUP
Durrell, M. (1992) Using German: a guide to contemporary usage CUP
Fox, A. (1990) The Structure of German Clarendon Press
Keller, R.E. (1978) The German Language Faber
Kohler, K. J. (1977) Einfuehrung in die Phonetik des Deutschen Erich Schmidt Verlag
Konig, W. (1978) dtv-Atlas zur deutschen Sprache [pp. 117-19, 133-37] dtv
MacCarthy, P. (1975) The Pronunciation of German OUP
Milroy, J. and L. (1985, 1991) Authority in Language [Section 3.4] Routledge and Kegan Paul
Roach, P. (1992) Introducing Phonetics Penguin
Russ, C.V.J. / Volkmar, C. (1987) Sprache und Gesellschaft in deutschsprachigen Laendern Goethe-Institut
Russ, C.V.J. (1994) The German Language Today Routledge
Stevenson, P. (1997) The German-speaking World Routledge


This module is at CQFW Level 5