Germany Euro 2016 squad

Here is a guide to the pronunciation of Germany’s Euro 2016 roster in German, followed by approximations in English in parentheses. In reality, German names are usually pronounced in English to be somewhat closer to how they would be pronounced according to English spelling conventions (e.g. Hummels as HUM-əlz [ˈhʌm.əlz] instead of HUU-məlss [ˈhʊm.əls]), and names that are shared between German and English such as Jonas and Thomas will often be pronounced as in English. A reasonable compromise might be somewhere in between, like following the approximations given below except for more peculiar features of German such as the hardening of final consonants; this would give HUU-məlz [ˈhʊm.əlz] for Hummels and LÖV [ˈlɜːv] for Löw, for example.

  • Manager: Joachim Löw (Germany) [ˈjoː.a.xɪm ˈløːf, jo.ˈa.xɪm-] (YOH-ə-k(h)im or yoh-A(H)KH-im LÖF [ˈjoʊ̯.ə.kɪm ˈlɜːf, joʊ̯.ˈɑːx.ɪm, -ˈɑːk.ɪm])
  • Bernd Leno [ˈbɛʁnt ˈleː.no] (BAIRNT LEH-noh [ˈbɛə̯ɹnt ˈleɪ̯n.oʊ̯])
  • Manuel Neuer [ˈmaː.nu̯eːl ˈnɔʏ̯.ɐ, ˈmaː.nu̯ɛl-] (MAH-nwel NOY-ər [ˈmɑːn.u‿ɛl ˈnɔɪ̯‿əɹ])
  • Marc-André ter Stegen [ˈmaʁk.an.ˈdʁeː teːɐ̯.ˈʃteː.ɡn̩, -ã.ˈdʁeː-] (MARK-on-DREH tair-SHTEH-gən [ˈmɑːɹk.ɒn.ˈdɹeɪ̯ tɛə̯ɹ.ˈʃteɪ̯ɡ.ən])
  • Jérôme Boateng [ʒe.ˈʁoːm bo.a.ˈtɛŋ] (zhe-ROHM bo-ə-TENG [ʒɛ.ˈɹoʊ̯m ˌboʊ̯.ə.ˈtɛŋ])
  • Jonas Hector [ˈjoː.nas ˈhɛk.toːɐ̯] (YOH-na(h)ss HEK-tohr [ˈjoʊ̯n.ɑːs ˈhɛk.tɔːɹ])
  • Benedikt Höwedes [ˈbeː.ne.dɪkt ˈhøː.və.dəs] (BEH-ni-dikt HÖ-və-dəss [ˈbeɪ̯n.ᵻ.dɪkt ˈhɜːv.əd.əs])
  • Mats Hummels [ˈmaʦ ˈhʊ.ml̩s] (MA(H)TS HUU-məlss [ˈmɑːts ˈhʊm.əls])
  • Joshua Kimmich [ˈjoː.zu‿a ˈkɪ.mɪç] (YOH-zoo-ə KIM-ik(h) [ˈjoʊ̯z.u‿ə ˈkɪm.ɪx, -ɪk])
  • Shkodran Mustafi [ˈʃkoː.dʁan ˈmʊs.ta.fi] (SHKOH-dra(h)n MUUST-ə-fee [ˈʃkoʊ̯.dɹɑːn ˈmʊst.əf.i])
  • Jonathan Tah [ˈjoː.na.tan ˈtaː] (YOH-nə-ta(h)n TAH [ˈjoʊ̯n.ə.tɑːn ˈtɑː])
  • Emre Can [ˈɛm.ʁə ˈʤan] (EM-reh JA(H)N [ˈɛm.ɹeɪ̯ ˈʤɑːn])
  • Julian Draxler [ju.ˈli̯aːn ˈdʁaks.lɐ] (yoo-li-AHN DRA(H)KS-lər [ˌjuːl.i.ˈɑːn ˈdɹɑːks.ləɹ])
  • Mario Götze [ˈmaː.ʁi̯o ˈɡœ.ʦə] (MAHR-i-oh GÖTS-ə [ˈmɑːɹ.i.oʊ̯ ˈɡɜːts.ə])
  • Sami Khedira [ˈsɛ.mi ke.ˈdiː.ʁa] (SAM-ee ke-DEER-ə [ˈsæm.i kɛ.ˈdɪə̯ɹ.ə])
  • Toni Kroos [ˈtoː.ni ˈkʁoːs] (TOH-nee KROHSS [ˈtoʊ̯n.i ˈkɹoʊ̯s])
  • Mesut Özil [ˈmeː.zʊt ˈøː.zɪl] (MEH-zuut Ö-zil [ˈmɛz.ʊt ˈɜːz.ɪl])
  • Leroy Sané [ˈleː.ʁɔʏ̯ za.ˈneː] (LEH-roy za(h)-NEH [ˈleɪ̯.ɹɔɪ̯ zɑː.ˈneɪ̯])
  • André Schürrle [an.ˈdʁeː ˈʃʏʁ.lə, ã.ˈdʁeː-] (on-DREH SHÜR-lə [ɒn.ˈdɹeː ˈʃʊə̯ɹl.ə])
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger [ˈbas.ti̯aːn ˈʃvaɪ̯n.ʃtaɪ̯.ɡɐ, ˈbas.ti̯an-] (BA(H)ST-i-ahn SHVYN-shty-gər [ˈbɑːst.i‿ɑːn ˈʃvaɪ̯n.ʃtaɪ̯ɡ.əɹ])
  • Julian Weigl [ju.ˈli̯aːn ˈvaɪ̯.ɡl̩] (yoo-li-AHN VY-gəl [ˌjuːl.i.ˈɑːn ˈvaɪ̯ɡ.əl])
  • Mario Gomez [ˈmaː.ʁi̯o ˈɡɔ.mɛs] (MAHR-i-oh GOH-mess [ˈmɑːɹ.i.oʊ̯ ˈɡoʊ̯m.ɛs])
  • Thomas Müller [ˈtoː.mas ˈɡɔ.mɛs] (TOH-ma(h)ss MÜL-ər [ˈtoʊ̯m.ɑːs ˈmjuːl.əɹ])
  • Lukas Podolski [ˈluː.kas po.ˈdɔls.ki] (LOO-ka(h)ss poh-DOL-skee [ˈluːk.ɑːs poʊ̯.ˈdɒlsk.i])

Due to the various backgrounds of the players, some of the names come from other languages. For instance, Shkodran Mustafi is pronounced [ʃkɔ.dɾan mus.ta.fi] in Albanian, Emre Can is pronounced [ˈem.ɾe ˈʤɑn] and Mesut Özil is pronounced [ˈme.sut ˈø.zil] (MEH-suut Ö-zil) in Turkish, Leroy Sané is pronounced [lə.ʁwa sa.ne, lə.ʁwɑ] (lə-RWAH sa(h)-NEH) in French, Mario Gómez is pronounced [ˈma.ɾjo ˈɡo.meθ] (MAHR-i-oh GOH-meth) in Spanish, and Łukasz Podolski is pronounced [ˈwu.kaʂ pɔ.ˈdɔl.skʲi] (WOO-ka(h)sh po-DOL-skee) in Polish. Ter Stegen, originally a Dutch surname, is pronounced [tər.ˈsteː.ɣən, tɛr-] (tər-STEH-khə(n)) in Dutch. On the other hand, while the spelling is superficially English, Joshua Kimmich’s given name is pronounced in the German way, as if spelled Josua.

Emre Can’s surname is often pronounced [ˈʧan] (CHA(H)N) by German speakers, partly because the sound [ʤ] represented by c in Turkish spelling (the j sound in English) is not part of the native sound inventory of German and is often replaced by the tsch sound [ʧ] of German (the ch sound in English). But even German speakers who distinguish [ʤ] and [ʧ] in English loanwords might use [ʧ] for Can because they are unaware of Turkish spelling conventions.

Xhaka vs Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri

Unusually, the UEFA Euro 2016 group stage match between Albania and Switzerland pitted two brothers against each other—Taulant Xhaka representing Albania and Granit Xhaka representing Switzerland. The brothers were born in Basel, Switzerland to ethnic Albanian parents who had just moved from Kosovo. While both played for Switzerland at various youth levels, the older Taulant chose to represent Albania at the senior level.

An article called “How to pronounce EURO players’ names correctly” on the UEFA website interestingly gives Taulant Xhaka as “Taoo-lant Dza-ka” while Granit Xhaka is given as “Cha-ka”. The short answer as to why they give different pronunciations for the same surname is that the former is based on Albanian and the latter on German, but neither pronunciation guide is satisfactory.

In Albanian, the digraph xh represents the sound /ʤ/ as in English jack [ˈʤæk], so Xhaka is pronounced [ʤa.ka] (due to conflicting accounts about which syllables are stressed in Albanian, I have made no attempt to mark stress in the transcriptions of Albanian pronunciation here). JAHK-a [ˈʤɑːk.ə] would be a better approximation of the Albanian pronunciation than “Dza-ka”, which would be spelled xaka in Albanian, where the letter x represents [ʣ].

Why then “Cha-ka” for the younger Xhaka? The phoneme /ʤ/ is not native to German, and only occurs in loanwords such as Dschungel [ˈʤʊŋl̩] from English jungle. But while the Standard German pronunciation as indicated by Duden’s pronunciation dictionary retains the original sound for this foreign phoneme, many speakers in Switzerland, Austria, and Southern Germany replace it with its voiceless counterpart /ʧ/ (the ch sound in English). So [ˈʧa.ka] is indeed a reasonable realization of Xhaka in German, and probably the most appropriate one for Switzerland. However, for German speakers who distinguish /ʤ/ from /ʧ/, it is advisable to say [ˈʤa.ka]. And as English does have the phoneme /ʤ/, it is recommendable for English speakers to say JAHK-a [ˈʤɑːk.ə] for Granit as well, using the same pronunciation for both brothers.

Taulant and Granit are [ta.u.lant] and [ɡɾa.nit] and respectively in Albanian. In German, [ˈtaʊ̯.lant] and [ˈɡʁa.nɪt] would be reasonable approximations, although shifting the stress to the last syllable may be closer to the Albanian pronunciations. Reasonable English approximations could be TAO-lahnt [ˈtaʊ̯.lɑːnt] and GRAHN-it [ˈɡɹɑːn.ɪt].

Granit’s international teammate Xherdan Shaqiri, who was born in Kosovo before emigrating to Switzerland shortly afterwards, also poses a problem. The UEFA article mentioned above gives the pronunciation of his name as “Cher-dan Scha-ki-ri”, again following the German pronunciation.

In Albanian, the name is pronounced [ʤɛɾ.dan.ʃa.ci.ɾi]. In “Cher-dan” [ˈʧɛʁ.dan], we again see the /ʧ/ standing in for Albanian /ʤ/ in the German pronunciation typical of Switzerland. Again, for German speakers who distinguish /ʤ/ and /ʧ/[ˈʤɛʁ.dan] would be advisable. JER-dahn [ˈʤɜːɹ.dɑːn] or JAIR-dahn [ˈʤɛə̯ɹ.dɑːn] would also be better for English speakers.

The usual German pronunciation of Shaqiri is indeed “Scha-ki-ri” [ʃa.ˈkiː.ʁi], with the q having the /k/ sound as expected in German spelling. But Albanian q represents either the voiceless palatal stop [c] or the voiceless palatal affricate [c͡ç], sounds that are not present in German or English. Furthermore, in some dialects of Albanian, it might become an alveolo-palatal affricate [ʨ] or postalveolar affricate [ʧ], in the latter case merging with the sound /ʧ/ written ç in Albanian. The latter pronunciations are widespread in Kosovo, for example. So a closer approximation of the Albanian pronunciation in German would have been “Scha-tschi-ri” [ʃa.ˈʧiː.ʁi]. But it seems that the pronunciation more intuitive to German speakers stuck.

English speakers similarly expect the q in Shaqiri to represent a /k/ sound, so most commentators say sha-KEER-ee [ʃə.ˈkɪəɹ.i], which approximates the German pronunciation, whereas sha-CHEER-ee [ʃə.ˈʧɪəɹ.i] would be closer to the Albanian. Given the overwhelming popularity of the former pronunciation in English, it would feel needlessly pedantic to insist on the more Albanian-like pronunciation.