Can you pronounce 'squirrel'?

The Germans at a company where I teach English all think that squirrel is the most difficult word to pronounce. It even seems as if they measure someone’s English ability partly based on whether or not they can say “squirrel”.

This is kind of funny to me, because most of them also can’t pronounce “the” and “three” correctly, but that doesn’t seem to bother them.

I can, but I am not sure whether you would agree with me after you hear me pronauncing it :slight_smile:

I think the German word for that animal is much harder to pronounce. 8)

Thanks Jamie, you made me look out the Japanese word for squirrel.It’s reesoo.And yes, I can pronounce the word with no problem,thank you :smiley:

Yankee,I agree to what you said.Though Jamie won’t probably think so :slight_smile:

Hi Jamie (K),

How do these Germans pronounce “the” and “three”?


For “the”, they usually say [d@] or [z@], but right now I’ve got a guy who always pronounces it [di].

They generally pronounce “three” as either [tri] or [sri].

Instead of “another”, they usually say “an udder”, so it’s not unusual for them to say something like, “I have an udder.”


Jamie (K):

Isn’t that how many native Londoners pronounce these words nowadays?


Hi Jamie,
That’s the way most of students pronounce the words in my neck of the woods.

P.S. Many of my friends pronounce the word ‘bluetooth’ with [z] at the end.

Hi Amy,

It took me a long while to pronounce the word. :lol:

Hi Jamie,

I think your Germans are not aware of a couple of things:

  • When learning a second language I should be aware that this language can contain sounds that don't exist in your mother tongue.
  • It will take some training to produce those new sounds.
  • Learning to pronounce new words correctly is a bit like exercising in a gym -- it might involve using muscles you haven't used before and coordinating movements of parts of your mouth.
  • If you try to sound close to a native speaker, you show my respect and interest not only for the language you're learning but also for the culture and mentality of its speakers. Ignoring the phonetics of that language means you're rather arrogant and don't care much about the way other people think and live.
It's probably impossible to sound like a native speaker right from the start. You also need some training in order to become a safe driver. But if a native speaker is able to produce certain sounds then with a little training you can do the same. Provided you think that a correct pronunciation is important for you.

By the way, I’m sure you have heard Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of DaimlerChrysler speak English. What do you think of his pronunciation? (I remember you telling me something about a German manager’s accent but I’m not sure if it was Zetsche.)[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: What’s the difference between Roxwell’s supermarket and Driscoll’s?[YSaerTTEW443543]


I’ve come to understand that many Londoners (And other English folks) have changed the soft “th” to “f”:

three = free

think = fink


As for how I pronounce squirrel:


Hi Torsten,

You said:

Do you?


Hi prezbucky,

You wrote:

You are quite right.


cool beans

John Terry and Rio Ferdinand (or is it Reo? crap!) come to mind from the Barclay’s English Premier League Preview Show or whatever it is.

Yes, I do try to pronounce English sounds correctly. This is my definition of ‘sounding close to a native speaker’. I’m not saying what native speaker I have in mind – US, Irish, Australian, British, Scottish, you name it. That’s not the point. The point is that you should try to pronounce words like ‘three’, ‘another’ or ‘squirrel’ correctly.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: How should we pay for the shipment?[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

Of course, but in what accent do you say those words? Do you sound like an Australian or like a South African, for instance? Or perhaps you have been taught URP, like so many other people?


I have not been taught English, I have been learning English. I wonder if and how it is possible to ‘teach a person an accent’. You can only learn a language and you decide which accent you want to imitate or adopt.

Do I sound like an Australian? Not exactly. South African? I have relatives in Pretoria and I think their English sounds a bit different than mine. But then again, with a little training I think could come close to their accent. (Might come in handy if I were to live there for a longer period of time which is very unlikely.) Do I sound like a European? Probably. Am I able to alter my accent? Absolutely. Will I try to sound more ‘American’ when I live in the US? Sure.

Englishuser, based on your questions I think you are from a small country where there are very few accents?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: How come you didn’t go to the leadership conference?[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

There are speech pathologists who help people acquire an accent of their choice. Which accent of English have you been imitating? Do you sound like a very aristocratic Englishman?

There are quite a few accents in my country. I mostly deal with speakers with more or less the same accent, though.


Hi Englishuser, why would I sound like a very aristocratic Englishman? What would be the point of that? It might be a useful skill if you want to do a comedy show. I prefer sticking to more practical issues. The people I come in contact with have all kinds of English accents because they come from different English speaking countries. I can imagine their reaction if I tried to speak and act like ‘a very aristocratic Englishman’. It would be hilarious and I would be out of business pretty soon.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, question-response: Are you sure you won’t have an appetizer?[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten,

Why do you think you’d be out of business if you started pronouncing the vowels in an ‘aristocratic fashion’ and would choose to tap your r’s? Do you suppose people would think it is wrong to speak that way?