auf deutsch

Musa for German

Das Musa Alphabet für Deutsch

German is an easy language to read, once you know how the letters are pronounced, but there are often multiple ways to write the same sounds. For example, the common surname Mayer could also be spelled Meyer Maier Meier Majer Mejer Mayr Meyr (and more). Walther Burckhardt could also be Walter Burkhart, and so on.

In addition, there are a number of di- and tri-graphs - ch ng sch dsch tsch ss - and a diaeresis, also known as an umlaut or trema, over ä ö ü which may or may not disappear when capitalized, or sometimes turn into an e. And sometimes ss or sz is written as ß, which has no uppercase form.

German distinguishes long and short vowels, but there's no consistent way to represent this. Long vowels may be written with a following h, while short vowels may be indicated by doubling the following consonant. Or long vowels may simply be doubled, although ie is used instead of ii.

There are also sound changes that aren't spelled, like the devoicing of b d g v z zh to p t k f s sh at the end of syllables. The digraph ch represents x after back vowels, but ç after front vowels or at the beginning of a syllable (only in the suffix -chen). The clusters sp st are also pronounced shp sht as in Spiel Stein.

Finally, there are two oddities for which German spelling is notorious: capitalization of nouns, and the creation of compound nouns. The former is merely quaint, while the latter seems incomprehensible until you realize that we do the same thing in English...but with spaces separating each word. Isn't golf cart easier to read than Golfplatzfahrzeug?

All these problems are solved by Musa. Every sound has its own letter, although long vowels use the Long mark and diphthongs use a semivowel. When pronunciation changes in a certain situation, the spelling reflects that. And compound words are written with spaces between components.


There are 24 consonants, plus 3 more used only in foreign words (in italics).

müssen nein eng
packen tanken kommen
sparren standen zwanzig Tscheche backen
backen danken Dschungel genug
fahren ich essen schön acht
waren See Jalousie
liegen ja haben Rohr

As in English, the fortis plosives p t k are aspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable, and sometimes in some other contexts. In that case, we write them with aspirated letters.


Here are the German vowels :

bitten bieten
Betten beten
Männer bäten weiten
Wasser baten Bauten
Bütten wüten
Böttingen böten
Bottich Booten Beute
Butten buhten
einer eine einen eines

There are 7 short vowels, 8 long vowels, 3 diphthongs, and 2 reduced vowels for unstressed syllables. As in English, the distinction between long and short vowels is more one of tenseness than length.


Now that you've learned the letters, why don't you try reading a sentence?

Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn, Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

© 2002-2022 The Musa Academy 10mar21