German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm reading Modern German Pronunciation, 2nd edition by Christopher Hall and I have a question regarding the /p/. I hold piece of paper directly in front of my lips and first I say the word Paar. I see the paper moving as I pronounce the aspirated /p/. Then I say the word Spar and I see the paper moving again. Christopher Hall says that there is no aspiration when the /p/ follows /ʃ/ but I found that the paper always moves. What am I doing wrong? Is there any other way to demonstrate this?

share|improve this question
I'd say "spar" is spoken like "sch-bah", but I don't know if that helps. – Matthias Feb 16 '14 at 14:56

Don't trouble with holding paper in front of your mouth, I never do. I think when you pronounce "schbaren" that is okay (at least in the south of Germany people pronounce it that way). Listen to speakers on the radio and forget the complicated things they tell you in books about pronunciation. Or try to get audio material from libraries. /p/ and /b/ sound different, that's right, /p/ has tension of the muscles of the lips and the lisps open with a slight explosion. But don't worry whether your paper moves or not, it doesn't matter. The more you hear and speak the better you will do.

share|improve this answer
This answers no aspect of the question. – Carsten S Feb 16 '14 at 22:06
@CarstenSchultz Strictly speaking, you are right, but it does address the point that Stavros' "problem" really isn't something that a beginner should be worried about. Non-aspiration of plosives after sch is a form of finetuning that really doesn't matter in everyday speech. Hence I agree that the advice "don't bother" is the best thing to tell him. – elena Feb 17 '14 at 8:23
@elena, I agree that “don't bother” is good advice if Stavros is a beginning learner of German. However, his motivation does not become clear from his question, and even then I would have found this more appropriate as a comment. – Carsten S Feb 17 '14 at 11:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.