1. Epenthesis phenomenon: an [i] sound within Ahornstraße 2, I hear the word as Ahorn[i]straße 2.

  2. When t followed by Gr as in: Ist da nicht Gräfinger?, I feel like the final t of nicht turns to a voiced d first then merge into the following Gr and becomes Dr finally.

  3. W changes to V as in: Wie bitte? The wie simply becomes vie to my ear.

How do you guys think of these phonetic phenomena? If my analyses are wrong please correct me and tell me why. Thanks in advance!


This is what's called coarticulation: sounds are influenced by the surrounding sounds. When you say nicht Gräfinger, the /t/ is unvoiced, but the following /g/ is voiced. Your vocal tract cannot switch off the vibrating glottis that fast, so there this feature will bleed into the following sound: either the /g/ becomes unvoiced and changes to /k/, or the /t/ becomes voiced and turns into a /d/. What actually happens depends on the individual speaker I'd guess, though it seems more likely that the onset of the voiced consonant shifts forward, ie the /t/ would change to /d/.

Just bear in mind that your vocal tract is a physical system, which means there is a latency when its moving parts change position.

In Ahornstrasse the speaker indeed produces a sound at the morpheme boundary. As the tongue moves from the alveolar position of /n/ to the palatal /S/, it is just in the same position as for the /i/ sound, which then 'accidentally' gets produced.

In example 2 I can actually hear a glottal stop before the /g/, though the /t/ still sounds like a /d/ just before then.

In the Wie bitte example I would assume that as it is the initial sound, the glottis is not instantaneously producing the voiced carrier, and thus the /v/ turns into the unvoiced /f/ initially. If you were humming before saying it, the glottis would be vibrating, and then it is more clearly a voiced /v/ sound.

  • Oh, I see, it is the glottal stop that makes the g more like a d. As for Wie bitte, it's indeed an initial sound. Good answer, thanks!
    – preachers
    Oct 2 '18 at 15:56
  • Many German speakers would simply drop the t of nicht Gräfinger. It's an adverb, other endings do not exist and the stem is pretty unique.
    – Janka
    Oct 2 '18 at 20:06
  • @Janka Yes, indeed. Especially in less formal speech. Oct 2 '18 at 22:14

You might be interested to know how a non-native speaker like me hears your examples:

  1. Sounds completely normal to me according to standard pronunciation maybe by someone from Bavaria or Austria. I didn't notice any addition to other sounds.

  2. Also sounds completely normal to me according to standard pronunciation. But pay attention that in your case that /t/ is not aspirated and thus might be less obvious to you. Generally speaking the voiceless stops /p/, /t/, /k/ are aspirated except when preceded by a sibilant.

  3. The obstruents /b, d, ɡ, z, ʒ, dʒ/ are voiceless lenis [b̥, d̥, ɡ̊, z̥, ʒ̊, d͜ʒ̊] in southern varieties, so the voiced-unvoiced distinction may be less obvious. However, the pair /f-v/ is not considered a fortis–lenis pair, but a simple voiceless–voiced pair, as /v/ remains voiced in all varieties, including the southern varieties that devoice the lenes (with however some exceptions). Generally, the southern /v/ is realized as the voiced approximant [ʋ] and that is how I hear it in your example.

For more information, you can read Standard German phonology.

  • 1
    1. is a Swiss German speaking Hochdeutsch.
    – Janka
    Oct 1 '18 at 19:00
  • 1
    Not sure if the speaker is Swiss, but he makes an unnatural stop between "Ahorn" and "straße" and it seems to me that he is also breathing in during that stop. Oct 2 '18 at 11:04
  1. I think your hearing is correct. The voice file has an additional i-like sound that doesn't belong there. The speaker makes an unnatural stop between "Ahorn" and "Straße" and even seems to breathe in.
  2. No, I clearly hear "Gräfinger", not "Dräfinger.
  3. German has no letter that is pronounced like an English "w". In German a "w" is always pronounced like English "v", while German "v" can be either pronounced the same or like an "f" - you simply have to learn which words require which pronunciation, there is no rule for that.
  • Thanks for your answer, as for no.3, I mean wie is usually pronounced as [vi:], but in this case, I heard it as [fi:], is this pronunciation normal?
    – preachers
    Oct 2 '18 at 13:52

Your forget that human language is not produced by machines which produce the same sounds under all circumstances, but by human beings whose speech is changed through the circumstances of its utterance.

In your first example the speaker appears to pause between the two parts of the compound street name, possibly in an attempt to speak slowly and thereby more clearly. He is a Swiss German speaker who has switched to High German, which indicates that he speaks to someone who does not understand his native dialect. Speaking slowly is a further attempt to be better understood.

What you hear as an /i/ is in fact the onset of the speaker's voice after a pause.

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