As German is spoken over a very wide area and in several countries, there is great variety in regional pronunciation. Some of these variations are considered standard, not dialect; only these variants are dealt with here.
In the north of Germany many long vowels in closed syllables (i.e. those ending in a consonant) are pronounced short, e.g. Glas, Tag, Zug.
In the north of Germany final g is pronounced like German ch (both ich and ach-Laut, depending on the preceding sound), e.g. Tag, Teig, Weg, zog, Zug.
In verbs before the endings -t and -te/-ten etc. g is also pronounced in this way, e.g. liegt, gesagt, legte, sagte; in standard German the g in these words is automatically pronounced ‘k’ due to the influence of the following t.
In the north the ending -ung is often pronounced ‘oonk’, e.g. Zeitung, Rechnung.
Over large areas of northern and central Germany pf at the beginning of a word is likely to be pronounced ‘f’, e.g. Pfeffer, Pfund. If you are having trouble pronouncing pf in such words, simply say Feffer and Fund and no one will even notice you are not saying pf.
In southern Germany and Austria, sp and st are pronounced ‘shp’ and ‘sht’ in all positions, not just initially, e.g. bist, Australien, Wespe.
The reverse can occur in the far north of Germany where sp and st might be pronounced ‘sp’ and ‘st’ in all positions, e.g. Stadt, spät.
In the south of Germany and in Austria k, p and t are commonly pronounced in a way that makes them barely distinguishable from g, b and d respectively, e.g. kaufen >> gaufen, Parade >> Barade, trinken >> drinken.
ch in words like Bach, Loch, Buch and rauchen (i.e. after a, o, u and au) is pronounced as in Scottish ‘loch’. The Germans call this the ach-Laut, a hard sound.
ch in words like Blech, ich, lächeln, Schläuche, Löcher, Bücher, welche, manche and durch (i.e. after e, i, ä, äu, ö, ü as well as the consonants l, n and r) is a softer sound than when it follows a, o, u and au, i.e. it is pronounced with the tongue curved, hugging both the soft and hard palates.
The Germans call this the ich-Laut, a soft sound.
It must be clearly distinguished from the more guttural ach-Laut.
The two ch sounds can alternate within variations of the same word when it is inflected, e.g. Buch (with the ach sound) and Bücher (with the ich sound).