As An-Or-d-nung or A-nor-d-nung? Similar questions always baffle me.

What is the general rule?

The problem is whether a composite word is pronounced separately.

  • 8
    It's a special kind of Ordnung, so it's pronounced An-ord-nung. German is rock-stable in splitting up words into syllables. Now try to split up Staubecken.
    – Janka
    May 9, 2017 at 11:38
  • You can also look up the hyphenation, because that follows the syllabic structure: duden.de/rechtschreibung/Anordnung
    – Carsten S
    May 9, 2017 at 11:43
  • @CarstenS: Well, not always, but in this case it does. May 9, 2017 at 18:08
  • 1
    @CarstenS: It's true, the most frequent deviations between hyphenation and syllables were systematic, but have been removed with the spelling reform (ck, st, and so on). And of course you're right, as it's not for nothing that the German term for hyphenation is Silbentrennung, i.e. syllable separation. May 9, 2017 at 18:46
  • 1
    I think that was Janka’s ‘joke’ ;)
    – Jan
    Jun 8, 2017 at 17:35

5 Answers 5


I could understand two possible hyphenations (and so pronunciations):

1 An-ord-nung
2 A-nord-nung

The first is correct.
The second is no proper German, although there is the word stem nord from Norden (north), but the suffix -nung does not fit. (There is a word Nordung = align to the direction north). And then the prefix a- (for something like a negotiation) does not give any sense to the word.

Similar word with other prefix:
Unordnung (Un-ord-nung)

  • Both pronunciations are proper German. They are just different regional pronunciations.
    – mach
    Sep 23, 2017 at 21:00
  • for which region A-nord-nung is a proper pronounciation? Sep 25, 2017 at 6:55
  • The pronunciation A-nord-nung is common in Swiss Standard German. I do not know about other Southern varieties of Standard German. In Northern Germany Standard German, the pronunciation An-ordn-ung is common.
    – mach
    Sep 25, 2017 at 15:42
  • I never heard Swiss do pronounce against syllabification and split the syllables to move single sounds/characters to other syllables. they emphasize other than german (or austrian), but none splits syllables. Sep 26, 2017 at 6:29
  • There is often not glottal stop in Swiss Standard German, cf. e.g. Ingrid Hove’s «Die Aussprache des Hochdeutschen in der Schweiz». Consequently, the syllabification appears to be different.
    – mach
    Sep 26, 2017 at 17:22

Anordnung (I know how you feel, as I always have similar questions when it comes to English ...). General rule: ask us. You'll get a correct answer, and also some other wisdom along with it. If it is urgent, ie you need to say the word now, you can also just to put the emphasis on the first syllable.

  • 5
    General rule: consult a dictionary. If you ask here without having consulted a dictionary you question is likely to be closed.
    – Carsten S
    May 9, 2017 at 20:19

The general rule for German pronunciation is that morphemes are pronounced distinctly. Where the morpheme boundary lies must be looked up in a dictionary, derived from your previous knowledge and context, or similar.

Taking your Anordnung example, the morphemes are an- and Ordnung. Thus, there is an audible separation between the two resulting in the pronunciation best being written as An|ordnung or An-ordnung.

While some typical prefixes (an-, auf-, ab-, vor-, nach-, aus-, ein- to name just a random sample) can be easily identified most of the time, it may get exponentially more difficult when dealing with compound words — to the point where context is needed to tell two possible options apart.

An often-cited case in point is Wachstube. This word can be interpreted as Wachs-Tube or as Wach-Stube, one being pronounced /waks|tu​ː​bə/ the other being /wax|ʃtu​ː​bə/.


The official Authority on this is the Duden

Worttrennung: An|ord|nung


  • 1
    No, Duden is not the official Authority. Neither for orthography nor for Hyphenation. (For Orthography it is a document published by Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung rechtschreibrat.com) Some words also have two or more possibilities like Wachstube (Wach-stu-be vs. Wachs-tu-be) or Eistempel (Ei-stem-pel vs. Eis-tem-pel) of which just one is listed in Duden. Jun 8, 2017 at 16:49

You can find the pronunciation of almost every German word on Wiktionary. The page for Anordnung is: https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Anordnung

There is a section titled »Aussprache« (pronunciation), and in case of Anordnung it says:


The high apostrophe (ˈ) means: The next syllable is stressed. The low Apostrophe (ˌ) means: The next syllable is also stressed, but it is not the most stressed syllable in the word. There is no extra sign for unstressed syllables, which means, the last syllable of Anordnung is unstressed.

You can find a description of the other symbols here: International Phonetic Alphabet

How do you know how many syllables? And where are the borders between syllables?

It is almost the same in all languages of the world: The core of a syllable is a vowel. So as a rule of thumb, around every vowel is one syllable, and the border between syllables is somewhere where the consonants are. Therefore just »d« alone never can be a syllable, because there is no vowel.

»Anordnung« has three vowels: [a], [ɔ] and [ʊ] and since there are no diphthongs in this word, »Anordnung« must have three syllables.

You can read more about syllables on Wikipedia.

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