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When I listen to the pronunciation of amtlicher on, I hear the letter t pronounced more like g or k. At least I do not hear it as a clear t. Can somebody please explain how t is pronounced here?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

For both 't' and 'l' the tip of the tongue is in the same spot (on the speaker's alveolar ridge, to be precise).

When 't' is followed by 'l', German speakers leave the tip of the tongue in that place, merely narrowing their tongue to go from one sound to the other. Thus, the release of the plosive 't' is very close to that of 'k' in this case.

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I'm sorry, I do not understand this answer. It is true that the tip of the tongue is in about the same place for both 't' and 'l'. However, the tongue is in a completely different position for a 'k'. – O. R. Mapper Jun 19 at 11:02

As it may help to learn the pronunciation from audio examples provided by online dictionaries this is a good example on their limits. Speech synthesizers as used by are prone to an artificial pronunciation, especially when it comes to a finer differentiation of sounds. In this example the sound t and the sound of k may be very similarly reproduced by the computer generated voice.

It may be better to search for directly recorded audio voices, as provided by some online services. For example Duden, Wiktionary, or Pons provide quite naturally sounding voice samples.

In case we are in doubt on the appropriate pronunciation we should look for an IPA phonetic notation where we may be able to compare the pronunctation of many phonemes with those in our native language.

When we search for "amtlich" in the Free Dictionary the following correct pronunciation will be displayed:

amtlich (ˈamtlɪç)

When clicking on the IPA notation a pop up window will also display a table of pronunciation keys for the letters used. There we can see that the t in "amtlich" is pronounced as in

t tight, stopped

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Remove Pons from your list. This is not recorded for German. – Em1 Mar 27 '13 at 9:38
@Em1: Pon uses acapela speech synthesizer for generating German pronunciation samples. Its not bad from what I can hear. – Takkat Mar 27 '13 at 9:42

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