Transcript S2E6: Does German bark?

Here is the transcript of S2E6: Does German bark? You can read more about this episode on the episode web page.

This transcript has been edited for readability.


LG = Luke Green
FC = François Conrad
S = Sophie (from S2E4: Austrians learning English)
T = Tanja (from S2E4: Austrians learning English)
EI = Emily Irish
DG = David Grace


  • In this transcript there are some phonetic symbols. You can look up the phonetics symbols for English words here and for German words here.
  • Where square brackets [ ] are used, I am referring to speech sounds (exception: where I add things like [laughs], then I just mean that the person laughs, or I’m adding a comment). Where pointed brackets < > are used, I am referring to spelling.
  • Where a consonant sound is transcribed on its own, it may have been pronounced with a schwa afterwards in the episode. It’s transcribed here without the schwa for simplicity and clarity.


LG: We all know the stereotype of the angry German shouting around in their angry language. To many people, German is not the nicest-sounding language out there. It’s known for sounding rough, abrupt, sometimes even robotic or strict. Some might even say that German comes across like barking. But where do these ideas and images come from? What about the language itself makes people think of images like a barking dog? That’s what we’re going to find out today. So let’s crack on with the show.

[Theme music]

This is Yellow of the Egg, the podcast where we give the German language a good belly rub. I’m Luke Green and this is series 2 episode 6: Does German bark?

[Theme music]

FC: So, describing languages, whatever it is, be it sounds or be it morphology or syntax or grammar or whatever, it’s always a question about perception.

LG: This is François Conrad, a researcher and teacher of linguistics working at the Leibniz University Hannover. Among his various linguistic interests, he conducts research into how languages sound, how speech sounds are produced and perceived, and what impressions this might create on people hearing a given language.

FC: So, we judge. People, we judge everything we do, right? And we also judge languages and speakers of languages.

LG: Such judgements can be based on a number of things. It could be generally due to preconceptions or stereotypes you’ve heard about the people who speak a certain language, or it could be down to personal experiences you’ve had with the language, such as learning it at school. It could also simply be down to one’s subjective feelings about how the language sounds. And with German, there are some common preconceptions about how it sounds.

FC: I did a survey, a worldwide survey, by the way. And I was asking persons, “how do you really perceive German? Give us up to five adjectives to describe it”. And the number one was harsh. Harsh, and then follows strong, hard, rough, sharp, precise, rigid, angry, and dry.

LG: These all seem to go in the same sort of direction. And that direction doesn’t sound like the most pleasant one. You don’t get the impression that the people surveyed think that German is nice to listen to.

FC: And only very very few people said “cute”, “sexy”, “attractive”, “pleasant” or “emotional”. So most of them really said “harsh”, etc.

LG: These are the subjective opinions of individual people, and many factors could be at play here. And, of course, these aren’t the opinions of every person who’s ever heard German before. But there must be some basis for this widespread perception of German as sounding harsh. It can’t have come from nothing. Arguments can be made that a lot of it might be down to factors outside of language, such as parodies and caricatures of angry Germans, which in turn are likely to stem from times and events such as World War Two, Nazi rallies, and so on. And while most German speakers obviously do not speak like that or have anything to do with Nazis or with Hitler, these images may still play a role in some people’s perception of German as a language.

FC: Yes. A clear yes for former times, say the last fifty years after World War Two. In the last twenty years, I think it’s changing. Because, I mean, World War Two is quite far gone now at the moment. It’s still in our heads somehow, but not that strong anymore. But still, you can see it in movies. I mean, it’s so easy to imitate a Nazi speaking German or whatever. And you have this prototype of a barking, bad Nazi. It’s so easy. But I would say today it’s more stereotype. So young Germans, I mean, if you tell them, “you sound like a Nazi”, they say, “no, not at all, I mean, I have nothing to do with the Nazis”. But let’s say it’s a stereotype that can still be used, and it’s still used worldwide. And it will take some time before it disappears.

LG: Historical associations may have some kind of implicit, maybe even conscious influence on how we perceive German, and this is a whole discussion in and of itself. Unfortunately, it is a stereotype that does still exist among some people. But today we want to focus more on the language itself. And there are linguistic elements of German that might explain why it has this reputation of being a harsh-sounding language.

FC: What I did, I checked for specific features that do show that German is sounding somehow harsh and hard, and there are good reasons to say so.

LG: François identifies five major features or elements of spoken German that might account for it sounding so rough.

FC: The first one is, in German, you have a lot of fricatives. Like, sounds that are produced with a lot of wind, if you want to say so, like “f”, [f].

LG: A fricative is a sound where you block the airflow out of your mouth almost completely, so when you breath out to speak, it creates friction, which makes different speech sounds. Some examples in English are [f], [z], [ʃ] and [v]. German seems to love these kinds of sounds.

FC: You have a word like fauchst. You have [f], you have [x], you have [s]. And, I mean, fricatives, they are very, in terms of frequency, they have very very high frequencies. So it’s, for your ear, it can be kind of painful. Right? If you have the vowels like [a:] or [o:], that’s nice, melodic. But if you have [ʃ], [f], [s], [mass of fricatives], for your ears, I mean, they are very clear. But they can also be somehow painful.

LG: At least to the ears of those who aren’t used to hearing these fricatives as often. Perhaps less so to German speakers themselves, who produce an abundance of fricatives whenever they speak.

FC: You have eleven fricatives in German, which are quite a lot. Most languages in the world, they have up to four, and German has eleven. By the way, English also has a lot of fricatives, and Dutch as well. But also German. So the Germanic languages. They used to have a lot of fricatives. But specifically German.

LG: And these fricatives don’t always occur individually either. In German, they can also be combined.

FC: The example fauchst, that’s quite hard to pronounce. A word like Eichhörnchen, you will know, as a non-native speaker, some words- or Streichholzschächtelchen. They are very very fancy words. There’s a lot of fricatives, and it’s very very hard to pronounce.

LG: This leads us onto the second major feature of German which contributes to the way it sounds. That is, not just the combination of fricatives, but the combinations of consonant sounds in general. German loves a good consonant cluster.

FC: Example, if you have a word like Strumpf, which is a sock. So you have one vowel and you have three consonants at the beginning and three consonants in the end. So we have [ʃtʁ] and [mpf]. And these clusters, it’s very very typical German. Many languages don’t have these clusters at all. A language like Spanish, they only have vowel-consonant, or consonant-vowel. You say a word like corona, which is also a Spanish word. Co-ro-na. You have consonant “k”, o-r-o-n-a. Which is very very simple and nice, and nice and simple to produce. In German you can have words like fauchst or Strumpf or pfropfst. Very very difficult words. And for many many speakers all around the world, it’s very close to impossible to reproduce these clusters. So that’s very typical, again, also for the Germanic languages as a whole, also English has clusters. But I would say German is really the champion of consonant clusters worldwide.

LG: We heard a bit about consonant clusters in a previous episode, series 1 episode 3, “Sounds Tricky”, if you’re interested in hearing more about difficult speech sounds in German. You might wonder why such complicated clusters exist if they’re hard to produce, surely they would have been smoothed out over time to make it easier to speak. There are a number of reasons and theories as to why and how we’ve ended up with the clusters we have, but we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s hear some more about the five features of German that make it sound hard and harsh.

FC: The third one is one specific consonant called the Knacklaut in German. So in English you call them the glottal plosive.

LG: You might also know this as the glottal stop.

FC: So it’s in the glottis here, it’s produced there, so your vocal cords, they only open and close once. It sounds like when you click on the computer mouse. [clicks gently] Like a small click. And usually people don’t hear it, they don’t know this sound exists. But it is there.

LG: In English you hear it when you say things like “uh-oh”. It’s this sound where you stop the air in the middle and then release it again. In some dialects of English, the “t” sound [t] can be replaced with a glottal stop, for example instead of “butter” [ˈbʌtə], you could say “bu’er” [ˈbʌʔə]. Most of the time, this sound is optional in English. In German, or at least in standard German German, it occurs with some regularity, and has a certain effect.

FC: And the effect is that when you have a word starting with a vowel, in German you automatically add this Knacklaut in front of the word. Due to this, you speak the words one word clearly after the after. You don’t make one long word out of them, as in many many other languages. For example, if you have Alles ist in Ordnung, ‘everything is in order’, you would never say in German “AllesistinOrdnung”. But you would clearly separate the words and say: “Alles - ist - in - Ordnung”. And you need this Knacklaut, in each case before the beginning of the word, which is a boundary marker. So it marks, “here starts a new word”.

LG: This isn’t the case for every German dialect. This glottal stop is less common in many southern German or Austrian dialects, for example, where sentences generally sound more connected and fluid in comparison. And this inclusion or non-inclusion of the glottal stop is pretty much automatic, and most speakers aren’t aware of it, likely because the glottal stop isn’t usually written down in German, English, or many other languages. If your first language is one where words aren’t typically separated by glottal stops, this could be a giveaway when trying to speak German.

FC: If you are a Frenchman or a French lady and you try to speak German, you wouldn’t say, “Alles - Ist - In - Ordnung”. Or you would exaggerate, really say, “Alles! Ist! In! Ordnung!”, and you would really sound like a barking dog, even much more so than Germans do. But you would rather say “Allesistinordnung”. So you would link all the words together, basically saying one long word instead of four split-up words. And that’s the effect of the Knacklaut.

LG: In the dialects of German where you mark the beginning of words with glottal stops, you can also hear parts of words being separated with them, too. A prefix might be separated from the rest of the word by a glottal stop if it’s followed by a vowel, for instance. Take the word bearbeiten. We have the base arbeiten, meaning ‘work’, and we add the prefix be- to make ‘edit’ or ‘process’. The non-separating dialects might say “bearbeiten”, whereas the separating dialects would go for “be-arbeiten”. You can hear the same in past participles that start with ge-, such as geöffnet, geändert, or geeinigt. There are some cases where speakers are more aware of splitting words up with glottal stops, though. We have the example of adding a glottal stop in words like Lehrer*innen to explicitly mark that all genders are meant, and we’re not just talking about female teachers. We also have examples that can even cause some contention between speakers of German, one being the pronunciation of the German word for ‘interest’. Some say Interesse, some say Inter-esse, splitting the word into two, leaving out the “r” and inserting a glottal stop. German speakers who are listening at the moment, I’d be interested to know whether you say Interesse or Inter-esse, and whether you do this consciously or not. I think I’m in the Interesse camp. The effect of these glottal stops everywhere can make German sound very ordered and punchy, as opposed to fluid and melodic. The glottal stop is a feature that mainly concerns the beginning of words. Moving on to the fourth harsh-sounding feature of German…

FC: Now we go to the end of the word. There’s one very very nice phenomenon, it’s called the Auslautverhärtung. In English it’s the ‘final devoicing’. So in the end of words, all the sounds, all the consonants, are produced without voicing.

LG: When we talk about voicing, we’re referring to the sounds where our vocal cords vibrate. There are sounds like [s], [p], [k] and [ʃ] where our vocal cords do not vibrate, these are voiceless. Then there are sounds like [z], [g], [m] and [w] where our vocal cords do vibrate, these are voiced. If you struggle to hear the difference, place your hand on your throat. Make the sound [z] like a bee. You should feel vibration. This means you’re adding voice, it’s a voiced sound. Now make the sound [s] like a snake. You should be able to feel that this vibration is no longer there. You’re no longer adding voice, it’s a voiceless sound. In this German final devoicing, the Auslautverhärtung, all of the consonant sounds at the ends of words are produced as voiceless sounds. So all of the sounds that are usually voiced become voiceless.

FC: Example: If you have the English word dog, you would say [dɒg] with a “g”. In German, if Germans speak English, and they say dog, they say [dɒk]. They change the “g”, which has voice, to “k”, which has no voice. [g] has voice, and [k] has no voice. So in German the rule says in every word in the end you have only consonants without voice. So you write <Hund> with a <d>, but you would never say [hʊnd], you would say [hʊnt]. So you spell it with a <d> but you speak it with a “t”. You automatically change this voiced “d” to an unvoiced [t].

LG: Of course, this is exaggerated a little here for the sake of clarity. But it does have the effect that, for example, the words for ‘advice’ and ‘wheel’ are both pronounced Rat, with a [t], even though Rat as in ‘advice’ is spelled with a <t>, and Rad as in ‘wheel’ is spelled with a <d>. So while it does have the potential to cause some lexical ambiguity in spoken German, the final devoicing has a similar effect to the glottal stop in that it helps to demarcate the words in a sentence, this time at the end of a word.

FC: So that’s a very very important rule in German. And again, this sounds really hard. If every word ends with [t], [k], [pf], that’s a big difference to [d] or [g] or [z].

LG: So far we’ve heard four out of the five features that contribute to this harsh sound of German. We’ve had the high number of fricatives, we’ve had the complicated consonant clusters, we’ve had the word-initial glottal stops and the final devoicing that make each word seem to stand on its own. All of these features rather concern the speech sounds themselves. The fifth feature concerns the way that words are pronounced as a whole, or more specifically, how they’re stressed.

FC: So in German, usually you stress the first syllable in the words. So you wouldn’t say [hʊnˈdə], but you would say [ˈhʊndə]. So you switch between strongly stressed syllables and unstressed syllables. So you don’t have a wave form intonation curve, but you have DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da, if I do it a bit stereotypically. So, and especially people that do not speak German, if they only hear it, well, they hear DA-da-da-DA-da-DA-da-da-DA. Right? And this again, it sounds harder than, for instance, French, which has final stress, da-da-da-da-DA, da-da-da-DA, da-da-da-DA. It is much smoother in comparison.

LG: Of course, there are words in German that don’t follow the typical pattern of the first syllable being stressed, but these are often either compound words, words with prefixes, or foreign words. The general impression is this spiky intonation because of this initial stress. Again, this doesn’t apply to all varieties of German, more so to standard German German. But it’s the variety a lot of people think about when they think of German.

FC: So I would say these are the five major features. And all together they give this barking, or whatever sound, to German.

LG: You might think that a language sounding this way would be undesirable, and that over time speakers would move away from speech sounds that come across as unpleasant, or that are difficult to produce. If we think about the consonant clusters in German, like those in Strumpf or pfropfst, you might think they would be simplified over time to make them sound nicer or simply to make them easier to pronounce. In some cases, clusters are simplified in fast speech. But it’s not the case that clusters are being reduced and simplified in general.

FC: It’s actually getting more complicated. For instance, if you have a word like helfen, ‘to help’, you write, at the end, you write -en. But you would never, well, at least in standard German, you would not produce the “e”. You don’t say “helfen”, you say “helfn”. [fn]. So you drop the vowel. And again, you have clusters. And this happens in a lot of places. In colloquial German, you wouldn’t say “ich habe das gemacht”, but “ich hab’ das gemacht”. Again, the “e” is dropped. So there are, specifically this [ə] sound, you call it a schwa, the schwa vowel, it’s getting dropped more and more, leading to further consonant clusters.

LG: To a certain extent, we create clusters in English by dropping vowels, too. If you think of a simple sentence like This milk is good, the word is can be reduced to just an s, so we get This milk’s good, leaving us with the lovely cluster of [ɫksg]. Another example would be the past tense suffix -ed. The <e> used to be pronounced in words like booked, which would have been something like [ˈbʊkəd], and still is in words like voted and faded, but it has disappeared in many words. So we have words that are spelled with <ed>, but are pronounced as looked, faced, or reached, which leaves us with a lot of clusters, many of which weren’t there before. These seem to be circumstantial, collateral damage caused by leaving out a vowel. But German has some clusters that seem to go beyond simply just leaving out a vowel, and which can be a real pain to produce. If they’re so difficult and take so much effort to articulate, why do they exist?

FC: There are good reasons that German is sounding the way it sounds. So German is very very good to be understood. You can very easily understand every word in German. And that’s also the reason why it developed in this direction. So a thousand years ago, German was totally different. These clusters weren’t there. Many of these features I mentioned, they developed in the last centuries. And the goal, if you can say so – nobody said we have to do this, but it developed in this direction – was to be not only a precise language but also a very nicely understandable language. So it’s a very good language if you want to be understood, but very hard if you want to have ease of articulation. And there are languages where it’s just the opposite. Spanish is very easy to articulate, but not so easy to understand.

LG: So we seem to have two main kinds of language here. We have languages like Spanish, which are easy to articulate because they have simple sound structures and their syllables don’t contain a lot of clusters, but they’re not as clear and easy to understand to listeners. The words tend to roll into one long string, and it can be difficult to discern where one word ends and the next one starts. And then we have languages like German, where there are a lot of clusters and the words are clearly separated. This can make it a nuisance to articulate, but it’s quite clear to understand and to recognise word boundaries. These types of language can be explained by one important theory relating to sound structures, namely the distinction between syllable languages and word languages.

FC: Word languages, the structure of word languages, the sound structure, is in the way the words are clearly separated one from the other. Which applies to German, totally applies to German. German is one radical word language. So you have the features I mentioned, which have the goal to form words that you can produce one after the other without linking them, without them becoming one word soup. Right? So you have clear boundaries, you have- and different other features. On the other hand, you have syllable languages. They are totally different. Syllable languages, they tend to have very very easy syllables. So no clusters. Many words have a lot of syllables, in German you can have words with only one syllable what is very very long due to clusters. In syllable languages you have words which have a lot of syllables, and so the words are quite small. The example of corona before. You say co-ro-na. It’s very very easy to articulate. You have, like, energy economy if you speak. Right? Your mouth doesn’t have to do that much compared to Strumpf in German, where your mouth is really active and it costs more of energy, pure motoric energy.

LG: So in short, a typical word language would contain features which make it easier to distinguish words, such as marking the beginning and the end of words with glottal stops and final devoicing. A typical syllable language would have simple syllables which are easy to articulate, with few clusters, but this might make it harder to distinguish words. Of course, it’s not the case that you can fit all the languages in the world neatly into either the category of word language or syllable language. Rather we can think of it like a scale. A given language can tend to lean more towards being a word language or a syllable language depending on how prevalent certain features are such as consonant clusters. So where would German and English fit onto this scale?

FC: If you would take like 10-point scale, and in the middle you have neither of both, and on- it’s like 10 is absolute word language, and 0 is absolute syllable language, German would be 10 and English would be 8ish. Right? Words are linked, that’s one reason why it’s not that far than German. But still, it has clusters. But they are not that complex as German. So it’s quite on the right, but not that far right. For the moment. Who knows how this develops.

LG: As we’ve said before, though, German is not homogeneous. The different varieties of German all exhibit different levels of harshness, in inverted commas, with some varieties having bigger clusters, some varieties linking words together more, and so on. This means that while we can probably put standard German towards 10, other varieties might be somewhere else on the scale.

FC: The standard German spoken in the north, this would be close to 9 or 10. Right? That’s the harshest. Then in the west, the western varieties, they would be more in the middle, maybe 5 or 6ish. ‘Cause they have some things that are smoother. You have Swiss German, which is only a 2. Swiss German is considered a syllable language. Or a syllable language variety, syllable variety. For Bavarian, which, Austrian German is also Bavarian in terms of dialect, maybe also 5 or 6. And the eastern varieties, yeah, also 6ish, 6, 7 maybe. That’s, like, more or less where I would put them.

LG: When many people think of German, they think of one particular variety of German. We usually think about the standard variety. And it’s the same with all languages. If we think of French, we usually think of standard French. So with a lot of our associations, and where we would likely put them on our scale of word-languages and syllable-languages, this would depend on the standard variety of that language. In François’ book, Warum Deutsch bellt und Französisch schnurrt, which means ‘Why German barks and French purrs’, he takes the standard or most well-known varieties of a number of European languages and looks at the features of those languages which make them sound the way they sound. Just like we’ve looked at with German, he’s done this with Italian, Spanish, French, English and Luxembourgish too. And to make it easier to visualise, he compares these languages using animals, based on how the languages sound, and on some of the language features that we’ve heard so far.

FC: So Italian I gave the label of a bird, a singing bird. It’s very melodic. There’s a lot of vowels but not much consonants. Spanish I gave the label of a horse, a clackering horse. Because it’s very fast. Right? You have the small syllables and babababababam. So I chose a horse that’s running. Then we have French, with a cat. There’s a lot of nasal sounds. Right? So, yeah, French is a cat. And then we have English, which is a, I mean, it’s also Germanic. So I chose another dog, but not a Schäferhund, as German could be a Schäferhund. I chose for English a poodle. A Königspudel. It’s a bit more, more chic and more like [makes tutting sounds]. There was this. And then the last label I gave in the book is Luxembourgish, which is, well, in the scale of word and syllable languages, somewhere in the middle. It has a lot of French influence, but also a lot of German influence. It is, in the baseline, it’s a Germanic language. So there I choose the Eichhörnchen. Well, that’s the German term. I chose the Kaweechelchen, in Luxembourgish it’s called a Kaweechelchen, which is ‘squirrel’. A squirrel, I chose it also for the sounds, because there’s a mixture. It’s hard to describe the sound of a squirrel. So it’s a mixture of many different things. But it’s rather positive, it’s very cute, right? And also it takes words and structures from both sides, both from French and from German. So I put this in a picture of the squirrel having neighbouring squirrels, German and French neighbouring squirrels. And also eating the nuts from both sides. Also, of course, having its own nuts. So you have the sounds, and you also have the picture of these labels that you can use to describe the languages and, yeah, and focus on the main points.

LG: Again, it has to be stressed that different people perceive languages in different ways. Not everyone shares the same opinions and has the same impressions, and they might not agree with some of these animal labels. That’s part of the fun. People might also think of different varieties of German when coming up with ways to describe it. Or they might be coming from a different language background than you. For example, native speakers of German are likely to perceive their own language differently to how others perceive it. Sophie and Tanja, from series 2 episode 4, are both Austrian, and they wouldn’t really agree that German sounds like a barking dog. Their view of German doesn’t really align with those who say it sounds super harsh.

S: I mean, I don’t know, but I get told that German sounds so rough and, like, with the [x] sound, which in my opinion is not true. Because I feel like this [x] sound, everyone stresses and it’s like “Oh my God, German is so rough, it’s like [x], [x], [x] all the time.” And I feel like that’s not a thing, and it kind of gets swallowed away. When I say “ich”, “ich” does not really sound rough, does it? I dunno. For me, it doesn’t. And then I once had the experience, I was talking to a Spanish guy, and he told me, “oh yeah, I know something in German: ichliebedich”. And I was like, “what are you saying?” And he was like “ichliebedich. That’s German, isn’t it?” And I was like, “I have no clue what you said”. And it was just, he wanted to say, “ich liebe dich”, which means ‘I love you’. And I was like “Just calm down, say it very nicely, say it just calm, and relax, and then it will be fine. You don’t have to stress anything or rush through it or make expressively hard sounds to make it sound German”.

T: German, to me, of course, as a native speaker it's something else. Because I'm used to it, and I grew up with it and talked it my entire life. So it's pretty normal. I mean, I understand when people that are not used to the German language describe it as hard and sounding like people were arguing. I totally understand that. Personally, I don't think so, for myself, but I feel like German isn't a pretty language. If you think of a language being like pretty and nice to talk, I think that's not how I’d describe German. So I'd probably say, if German wasn't my mother tongue, I’d definitely 100% prefer English over it.

LG: Opinions also differ among people who don’t speak German as their first language, or don’t speak German at all. Here’s Emily Irish and David Grace, who have both heard German being spoken, but don’t speak the language themselves.

EI: So I think it's quite a stern language. If that makes sense. I think, yeah, quite stern, I think is the word. I don't know if they sound quite angry, but definitely stern.

DG: I think it greatly depends on who's speaking it and the manner in which they’re speaking it. I think it can sound very aggressive and harsh, but then equally it can sound very thick and buttery.

LG: Thick and buttery is a new one. That wouldn’t be my personal first thought. But it goes to show how the ways we might perceive a language are not the same for everyone. At the same time, even for people who don’t speak German at all, some of these features of word-languages that we discussed earlier can still be picked up on.

EI: I feel like, I mean, obviously this is really hard to tell because obviously I don't speak any German whatsoever, but I feel like when I hear German, it's like they’re pronouncing everything very clearly. I don't know. Maybe that's just me in my head, but sometimes in other languages I'm like, “whoa, that's really quick, that's- I have no idea what's going on here”. But German, I just, I feel when it comes across that actually, it's just very clear.

LG: And we can hear this kind of thing when we listen to languages we don’t understand or speak ourselves. We can tell if a language is fast-moving and has simple syllables, and you wouldn’t really be able to work out individual words very easily. With other languages like German, it would be easier to at least determine where one word ends and the next begins. Whether or not this is then interpreted as pleasant or ugly, efficient or stern, singing or barking, that’s down to the individual.

FC: So, subjectively, a language barking or doing other sounds is only, well, it’s my own perception. So there is no “German barks for everybody”.

LG: Still, we have subjective reactions to how a language sounds, and as humans it’s difficult to turn off that subjective reaction when analysing things, especially something as personal and as loaded as language, with all of its historical connotations and baggage too. It can sometimes be difficult to analyse without judging.

FC: But we do this everywhere. Right? We do this everywhere. I hear you with a nice English accent…

LG: Thank you.

FC: …and I also judge. Right? If I hear Frenchmen or whoever. We all do this. And in the book, I do this as well. Right? I give every language, I give a label, an animal. Right? Just to show the stereotype and to work with it. I mean, that’s useful. That how we, we love to categorise, as humans. As long as we don’t overjudge, and have another, a bad aim, I mean, that’s nothing too bad with it.

[Theme music]

LG: Thank you so much to François Conrad for joining me for this episode. His latest book is called Warum Deutsch bellt und Französisch schnurrt. Eine klangvolle Reise durch die Sprachen Europas. You can buy it now. It’s in German and it’s a great read, I really enjoyed it. I’ll put information and links to buy the book in the shownotes and on the podcast website,, where you can also find more information about François and his work.

Remember you can find me on Instagram @yotepodcast, that’s Y-O-T-E-podcast, Facebook @yellowoftheegg, and you can email me at If you want to support the podcast further and have access to behind-the-scenes bits and bobs, you could consider becoming a patron at If you’re not in a position to pledge, that’s absolutely fine. I would very much appreciate you spreading the word about Yellow of the Egg and giving me a nice five-star rating and review. That would be amazing.

So with all that being said, thanks so much for listening. Playing us out this series are Euphoniques, this time with “Make A Step”. Find them on Spotify, links in the shownotes. Enjoy the song and I’ll see you in the next episode. Machts es gut, servus aus Wien.

[Music: “Make a Step” by Euphoniques]

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