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The Winter of Our Mispronunciation

This poor pun on the first line from Shakespeare's tragedy Richard III was inspired by one of the most commonly mispronounced words of all: the word "mispronunciation." It's ironic that the word "mispronunciation" — with the single "u" between the two letters N in the spelling — should so often be mispronounced as "mispronounciation" (sic). The "ou" in the the verb "mispronounce" is often falsely carried over into the nominalization of the word. The same applies to "pronounce" and "pronunciation," with the latter often being mispronounced "pronounciation" (sic). 


The German words for "comedy" and "tragedy," die Komödie and die Tragödie, are also commonly mispronounced by non-native German speakers. You may find these two types of dramas referred to fairly often on Yabla German:


Til Schweiger und Nora Tschirner in der schönsten

Til Schweiger and Nora Tschirner in the most beautiful

romantischen Komödie des Jahres.

romantic comedy of the year.

Caption 32, Filmtrailer - Keinohrhasen

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Und das nächste wird dann wieder eine Komödie.

And the next [one] will then be a comedy again.

Caption 75, Schauspielerin - Jessica Schwarz

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Diese Mischung aus Action und Drama-Komödie

This mixture of action and dramatic comedy

Caption 91, rheinmain Szene - Selig

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But how do you pronounce Komödie? If you pronounced it according to standard German rules of pronunciation, it would have three syllables and end, like the English "comedy", with the sound "ee". You would, however, in that case be mispronouncing the word. Both Komödie and "comedy" are based upon the original Latin word comœdia, and the German pronunciation rather unexpectedly follows the Latin "ia" ending, so rather than pronouncing the German "ie" as "ee" phonetically, it is pronounced closer to the Latin "ia" as "ee-yeh" phonetically, giving the word four syllables: Ko -  - di - e. And the same with "tragedy": Tra - - di - e. Note too that the accent falls on the second syllable of both words: Kodie and Tradie.


Weißt du, es ist eine Tragödie!

You know, it's a tragedy!

Caption 49, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 1: Alle haben sich lieb

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While mispronouncing Komödie or Tragödie may not exactly be a tragedy, if you get it right you can at least avoid being the star of your own unintentional comedy!


Further Learning
Hear the proper pronunciation of the word by listening to the recorded playback of Komödie and Tragödie and practice it a few times out loud on your own. Then go to Yabla German and find different examples of the words being used by native German speakers in a real-world context.

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