Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

According to the wiki page:

[x] occurs after /uː oː/ (for instance in Buch [buːx] 'book') and [χ] after /a aː/ (for instance in Bach [baχ] 'brook'), while either [x] or [χ] may occur after /ʊ ɔ aʊ̯/, with [χ] predominating.

When pronouncing the [χ] sound I end up trilling, otherwise no sound really comes out. So, it ends up sounding like a voiceless 'r'. Is this a mistake and would native speakers notice, or does it really not matter?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

When I say 'Bach', I also trill the [χ] sound very slightly, and I have no accent at all. It's important how prominent your trill is. As mentioned, a prominent trill will make you sound like someone from Eastern Europe. Can you upload a speech example for us to analyze? For me, it depends on the speaking volume. The louder I pronounce the [χ] sound, the more I trill it.

Here example from Wiktionary: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/De-Bach.ogg

share|improve this answer
How sure are you about your producing a trill? – The Eastern European accent is not a trill, however, it’s just a fricative [x] in places where a native speaker would use [χ] (or [ç], as well). –  chirlu Jun 30 '13 at 8:18

That’s difficult to tell without conducting some kind of study (e.g., play back recorded words like [baʀ̥] to native speakers and ask them whether they hear /bar/ or /bax/). I’d guess there would be a tendency to interpret it as /x/, but chiefly because /r/ in /bar/ would be represented as a vowel in standard pronunciation, not as one of the four possible consonantic forms (ʁʀɾr).

If you can produce [x] but not [χ], you might consider using [x] everywhere. It will give you an Eastern European accent (Poland/Russia), however.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


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

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