Here are som examples:

[t͡sʰ], [t͡s] or [ʣ]?

Wie alt sind Sie?

nicht sehr

[s] or [z]?

Was sind Sie von Beruf?

Das Sofa

[st], [sd] or [zd]?

das du weißt

The consonant clusters marked in bold include a voiceless one and then a voiced one. And as I can hear, the cluster /ts/ is often pronounced a fricative.


2 Answers 2


(Haven't you already asked this question on German SE: Pronunciation of consonants at a word-border? Please explain why you are re-asking it here.)

No, you don't get [dz]. The most commonly described accents of German don't have regressive voicing; instead, "lenis" obstruent consonants tend to be realized as voiceless whenever they are adjacent to a fortis obstruent.

The sound "/z/" is fairly often realized as voiceless [s] in all contexts; even in accents where it can be [z], that would be an unlikely realization after /t/ or /s/.

My description here, which is based on what I've read in linguistic sources, agrees with what mach said in the top-voted answer to your German SE question.


In German, word boundaries are spoken as a short pause, so there can't be any influence of sounds between adjacent words. This also applies to component boundaries within compound words and to a high degree even to syllable boundaries.

  • 2
    V-V word boundaries, and possibly any words starting with a vowel, have a glottal stop added, but as far as I know there isn't a short pause between just any pair of words... I think that would be very odd to pronounce and I'd imagine I would notice it, so can you elaborate on this?
    – LjL
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 22:46
  • In Wie alt sind Sie? there's a short pause between all the words, not just before alt. The glottal stop has a difference in quality as you don't just pause but close the vocal lips. But the pattern is still ra-ta-ta-ta. Same for any other utterance.
    – Janka
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 23:19
  • 3
    I googled "short pause" between words German pronunciation, and the first hit was... a comment by you on the German Stack Exchange in response to a similar question. It may be something commonly taught to German students to help them understand the rhythm and phonotactics of German, but I am honestly very skeptical that there is an actual "short pause" between each word (not to mention at syllable boundaries) that can be detected objectively, outside, again, of glottal stops before vowels. Do you have a linguistics source on this? I wouldn't insist, but it goes against my every intuition.
    – LjL
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 23:52
  • 1
    I don't doubt the intent of the claim, but the explanation is lacking. To take "alt" for example, there is no proper glottal stop with audible release, there may be a closing of the vocal lips, but before the word boundary, as the release of the t, if there is one, covers it up, and the release can become so short that it fuses with the following "sind". There is not necessarily a silence in between, hence "Hals maul" "throat mouth" instead of "halt's maul" "shut'r pie whole" is a minor meme. PS: But that may be characterized as dropping the "t". The contrast "z" vs "ts" eludes me, too.
    – vectory
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 0:26
  • 1
    What you really want is a trained phonetician inspecting examples and soundwaves. Surely that's been done before.
    – vectory
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 0:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.