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There is a phrase that kept coming up in my work some time ago. The phrase was ‘Klein, aber oho!’. It took me a while to figure out how to translate this phrase. It starts ‘Small, but…’ and then the mysterious word ‘oho’. On first glance, this looks like an abbreviation for something. But it is, in fact, a German exclamation of surprise or amazement! In this post we’re going to look at German interjection/exclamation sounds, complete with audio so you know exactly how they’re pronounced. Let’s get started!
First, here’s the mysterious ‘oho’ word. The phrase Klein, aber oho! Means Small, but mighty or Small, but oh my! The word oho is an expression of surprise. It is similar to the English words ohh or woah. Click the audio clip to hear how the word oho sounds!
This is a sound of marvel or surprise that comes at the beginning of a sentence such as: Boah, ist das kalt! – Wow, that’s cold! I have recorded this whole phrase for you here (mainly because it was too difficult to pronounce properly without a sentence attached to it!):
Here are a few ‘involuntary’ German sounds – the words for ow, oops, and a sneeze!
(My relatives used to say Uppsala, which is also the name of a town in Sweden. But I am not sure if this is also an ‘official’ German way of saying oops!)
Of course, everybody sneezes differently, but this is how the Germans ‘spell’ their sneezes, so here’s an audio clip of how it might sound:
Here are three ways you can exclaim your disgust in German, complete with their English equivalents:
And now some more joyful sounds Germans make:
Here is the sound Germans make when they don’t understand something:
And here is the sound they make when they finally ‘get it’!
And, lastly, here is a sound of frustration or disbelief- which, just like in English, is an exclamation of the word ‘man’:
Although everyone makes slightly different noises, no matter what their language, I hope this post has helped you see how these interjections and exclamations often sound in German! Are there any other sounds you can think of?
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