Is it Genu-g or Genu-k?? Or is it a matter of dialects?

What I hear (and use) is a "g" sound as in the word "Tag".

Anyone here pronounces it Genuk?

In wiktionary it says [ɡəˈnuːk] and [taːk] which sounds a bit off to me.

  • 2
    Or is it a matter of dialects. Not really. More like a idiom based nuance. Note, that you'll also hear Genu-ch in some counties. Commented May 18, 2018 at 17:29
  • 1
    The 'g' sound is the common one. Commented May 18, 2018 at 18:02
  • 1
    Do not pronounce it with a k. Even if there was a region where this was common, it sounds terrible and will certainly raise eyebrows.
    – idmean
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 19:12
  • 2
    Note that Singers, Radio and TV moderators are trained for the "k" end-consonant - Pronouncing it too soft makes it vanish and swallowed.
    – tofro
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 19:19
  • 4
    It’s called Auslautverhärtung. Reportedly southern dialects don’t have it.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


There are several issues that affect the pronunciation of "genug" (and similar words ending in the letter "g", like "Tag"):

  • Pronunciation of "g" as a fricative vs a plosive
  • Vowel length
  • Auslautverhärtung (hardening of obstruents in word-final, or syllable-final position)

Wiktionary actually mentions variation. It gives two pronunciations:

  • IPA(key): /ɡəˈnuːk/ (standard)
  • IPA(key): /ɡəˈnʊx/ (in northern and central Germany; chiefly colloquial)

I am not an expert and I don't have experience listening to German people, so I can't confirm on the basis of my own knowledge that Wiktionary's description of the distribution of these variants is correct. But the description of /ɡəˈnuːk/ as "standard" matches what I as a non-native learner have read in materials geared towards people learning German. The pronunciation /ɡəˈnuːk/ would occur in a dialect that pronounces "g" as a plosive, has long vowels in words like this, and has Auslautverhärtung.

I don't know the details of how people decided what pronunciation to consider "standard". Standard German is a rather artificial construct and the idea of it has changed over time. A History of German, by Joe Salmons (2012), says "No systematic attempt to regularize Standard German pronunciation took hold until the turn of the 20th century" (p. 292). My impression is that many native speakers either don't know, or don't care about these details--although tofro said in a comment that

Singers, Radio and TV moderators are trained for the "k" end-consonant - Pronouncing it too soft makes it vanish and swallowed. – tofro

G as plosive vs. fricative

Word-final "g" can be pronounced as a fricative or as a plosive. When pronounced as a fricative, it shows the same variation as "ch" between the Ich-Laut [ç], after front vowels, and the Ach-Laut [x~χ] after back vowels.

I think this is related to the phenomenon of pronouncing "g" in the middle of words as [j] (after front vowels) or [ɣ] (after back vowels), but I'm not sure exactly how. Apparently, there used to be a stronger correlation, but some speakers in Northern Germany came to replace [j] and [ɣ] with [g] while retaining the fricative pronunciations [ç] and [x~χ] in "hardening" contexts. Whose German?, by Orrin W. Robinson (1974), quotes Pilch (1966:253) as saying

This lack of [g] is considered by society to be uneducated, but can be observed in speakers with high academic degrees. In the neutralization all of Northern Germany has the voiceless fricative /ç/ or /x/, southern Germany has /k/, for example finally in Tag, Berg. The pressure of educated society is pushing northern Germany towards the stop /k/ here as well, but with less success than with initial and medial /g/. This leads on the one hand to mixed forms like Tag /tak/ < northern /tax/ + southern /tɑk/.

Secondly, the normative intervention leads to a morphophonemic alternation between medial /g/ and final /x, ç/, for example in Berg /bɛrç/, pl. Berge /bɛrgɪ~bɛrjɪ/, Zug /cux/, pl. Zuge /cügɪ~cüjɪ/.

(p. 6)

I don't know how relevant this quote is to modern pronunciations; it might be outdated information.

The "Atlas zur deutschen Alltagssprache" has some maps showing the pronunciation of the final consonant in "Tag" and "Zeug", and also the vowel in "Tag":

enter image description here

Looking at these, it does seem to me that the fricative pronunciations occur in the north of Germany, and are mostly absent in the south.

The note says

In Tag und Zeug ist die (hier "korrekte" – vgl. Ktn. König usw.) oberdeutsche k-Aussprache im ursprünglichen Tach- (Zeuch-) Gebiet schon weit verbreitet, vor allem im standardnäher sprechenden Norden. Eine Ausbreitung der k-Aussprache nach Süden hin über das dialektale ch-Gebiet hinaus ist nicht zu erkennen. Bei 'Tag' kommt eine weiter nördlich gelegene Nord-Süd-Grenze hinzu: Im Norden ist der Vokal kurz (Tach), weiter südlich lang (Taach). Bei Zeuch zeigt sich wie bei König etc. die mitteldeutsche Entwicklung von ch zu sch.

My understanding is that the pronunciation of "g" as a plosive or as a fricative is usually a general thing, so I would expect someone who says "Tach" to also say "Genuch", and someone who says "Tak" to also say "Genuk".

However, the "standard" does have at least one inconsistency: a fricative pronunciation is prescribed only for words ending in "-ig", as well as some derived forms like "-igkeit".


Typically in German, a word-final (or more accurately, syllable-final) "lenis" obstruent consonant is "hardened" so that it sounds pretty much like a "fortis" consonant. E.g. the word "seid" is pronounced like "seit". This is described as a "neutralization" of the sounds /d/ and /t/ in this position. (There may actually be a small difference in the pronunciation on average--a concept called "incomplete neutralization"--but people can't hear the difference reliably the same way the difference between word-initial /t/ and /d/ can be clearly heard in a standard German accent.)

If I remember correctly, there are supposed to be dialects of German without Auslautverhärtung, but I don't remember where they are.

Related question: How is the ending -ig pronounced, and where?


Here in vienna it can be heard with a k. I myself would mostly use it that way.

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