How would German native speakers typically pronounce the family name Pahl?

I know a family, who live in an English speaking country, that pronounce it with an English “aw” vowel sound - same as “Paul”.

But my limited German instincts suggest to me it should be pronounced like “Paal” - similar vowel as found in “car”.

Which is more usual?

  • 1
    The vowel in German is indeed comparable to car, far, scarf, barf. It's quite common though for foreigners to anglicize their names when moving to an English-speaking country.
    – HalvarF
    Sep 25, 2021 at 7:32
  • 1
    The original German pronunciation is Paal, but names change their pronunciation when the are used in another language environment. So if people in an English speaking country say "Pawl", it is okay and even sounds similar as Paal.
    – Paul Frost
    Sep 25, 2021 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


The h after the a is a length marker. The h itself is silent. It marks only, that the vowel before it is a long vowel. So, you pronounce "Pahl" exactly the same way as "Paal": [paːl]

So, it's similar to "Mahl" [maːl], "Wahl" [vaːl], "fahl" [faːl], "kahl" [kaːl] and "Zahl" [t͡saːl], just with [p] at the beginning.


The basic rule is that you call people by the name that they themselves use. You say that they live in an English-speaking country and that they pronounce their name like the English pronunciation of "Paul" (IPA /pɔ:l/. There is absolutely no excuse for not pronouncing it the same way in a German context. Even if they are of German origin (which may or may not be the case) they are entitled to Anglicise their name, and German speakers should respect this.

  • Doesn’t answer the question.
    – Carsten S
    Oct 10, 2021 at 23:21
  • 1
    While the answer raises a valid point (even with some dispensable behavioral advice) the question was not, how to learn the pronounciation concerning the name of a specific person, but the more likely pronounciation by native speakers without any other context.
    – guidot
    Oct 11, 2021 at 12:09
  • Was hat die Antwort mit Pahl zu tun? Geht es um den Experten für eh alles? Oct 11, 2021 at 19:52
  • From personal experience: Totally wrong. I'm forced to change the pronunciation of my name in the UK because people here cannot get it right. When I'm in Germany, I expect them to pronunciate it correctly (in German).
    – gnasher729
    Oct 12, 2021 at 15:11
  • Schwarzenegger ≠ Schwortzenegger.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 17, 2021 at 9:27

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