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If you have a word like 'Strasse' and it forms part of a street name for example, then I would assume that you still pronounce the word as though it were by itself.

But are there examples of when you wouldn't pronounce ST as SHT?

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Am be*st*en frag*st* Du jemanden, der das *Sht*udiert hat. I don't know the underlying rule... –  bjoernz May 31 '11 at 9:55
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2 Answers 2

up vote 25 down vote accepted

In standard German pronunciation, this happens when (and only when) st is the first part of a syllable.

Straße -- Stra·ße -- /ˈʃt/

verstehen -- ver·ste·hen -- /ˈʃt/

Kasten -- kas·ten -- /st/

bester -- bes·ter -- /st/

fast -- fast -- /st/

I'll add that there are a few loan words that can be pronounced without the SH sound, e.g. Star, Stimulus, Stracciatella, Spam, Stil. See the comments for some discussion on the subject.

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+1; correct for standard German. –  OregonGhost May 31 '11 at 10:01
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@Gigili It doesn't matter which syllable it happens in, as long as it's the onset. –  Tim N May 31 '11 at 10:11
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Does the same hold true for SP = SHP then? Sorry, it's not completely clear –  adolf garlic May 31 '11 at 10:25
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Some northern Germans, especially in Hamburg, do what is called "Stolpern übern spitzen Stein", pronounced without /ʃ/. My grandfather (originally form Soltau) and my uncle used to talk that way. My mother consciously changed to the standard way when she was a teenager in the 1950s. –  starblue Jun 1 '11 at 11:29
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@bot47: Like it or not, "Googeln" is the most used term for doing a web search in German. Duden is not authoritative, it's rather descriptive. –  OregonGhost Jun 30 '11 at 9:57
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Many people tend to pronounce Latin-derived words with sharp s, like Strategie, though it is still correct to pronounce it as sht. However, there are also many dialects, especially in Northern Germany, that always prounounce it as st, not sht.

On the other hand, I could think of a different case: Martinstrasse vs. Martinstraße (Martins-Trasse vs. Martin-Straße). Of course, in the first case, it's no longer Straße ;)

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As much as the Hamburger pronounce st always sharp many dialects always pronounce the st like sht. –  Takkat May 31 '11 at 10:19
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@Takkat: Which makes matters even more complicated for learners ;) –  OregonGhost May 31 '11 at 10:25
    
@Takkat: And adds a reason to add the Hamburger slang hint to the answer. –  TheBlastOne Jun 8 '11 at 0:47
    
And southern Germans might even say "beshten". It's part of the "Lautverschiebung", which is strongest in the south. –  Jules Oct 3 '11 at 10:27
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