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?

  • I'd say "spar" is spoken like "sch-bah", but I don't know if that helps.
    – Matthias
    Feb 16, 2014 at 14:56

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 1
    This answers no aspect of the question.
    – Carsten S
    Feb 16, 2014 at 22:06
  • 1
    @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, 2014 at 8:23
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    @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, 2014 at 11:10

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