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Why is Entschuldigung pronounced as ent-shu-ldigung instead of en-chu-ldigung?

For example, the 'tschu' in "tschüss" is pronounced as chu.

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    I don't understand what the difference would be. The English ch sound is rendered in IPA as /tʃ/. Jun 20 at 7:46
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    @DawoodibnKareem I think the OP has heard "Tschüss" pronounced as "Schüss" (no T). Jun 20 at 17:37
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    And interestingly, there are also such words in English: grasshopper is not pronounced as gras-shopper, it's instead grass-hopper.
    – Ruslan
    Jun 20 at 22:21
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    What more is need than that there's an "s" before the "ch"? Jun 20 at 22:49
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    I'm pretty sure I pronounce the consonants in "oh China" and "outshine" identically, and English is my first language. Jun 20 at 23:02

5 Answers 5

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I understand that you are asking why it is Ent-schuldigung and not En-tschuldigung. While I am not sure that these two pronunciations could even be clearly distinguished in casual speech, it is important to understand that “ent-“ is a prefix. It means taking something away, in this case guilt (Schuld).

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    RE casual speech: Sometimes the prefix is (partially) obmitted, making it 'Schuldigung or 'Tschuldingung. Both words have a distinct pronounciation. Jun 19 at 11:31
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    Is this a general pattern or is it specific to this word? E.g., what about "entscheiden/entscheidung" or achtzehn= acht + zehn? Jun 21 at 14:54
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    @RogerVadim yes this is a general pattern. The prefix ent- appears in numerous words in the German language, you mentioned two of them. Your second case is a compound word, where each word is pronounced separately (i.e. 18 = acht+zehn, not ach+tzehn). Jun 22 at 6:21
  • "entschleunigung", schleunig is speedy, so made into a noun this is un-speedy-ing, i.e. the process of slowing down. A "(weg-)scheide" is the place where a path splits. And "ent-scheidung" means choosing one or the other.
    – Felix B.
    Jun 22 at 7:36
  • I am a bit embarrassed about all of the upvotes, because at normal speaking speed I hardly, if at all, hear a difference between the two versions anyway.
    – Carsten S
    Jun 23 at 7:44
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The syllables are different, as is the etymology.

Ent-schul-di-gung. The base or stem of the word is "Schuld" (guilt, debt, blame, fault...) which helps to build words around these topics. We add a prefix "ent" (which always changes the word in some way around removal of the stem or similar) and we add a different ending to indicate in some manner the meaning of the word (e.g. to make it differ from the direct substantivation of the verb 'entschuldigen').

Generally words are pronounced along their syllables, and syllables usually follow the composition of the word from its parts, especially prefixes, stem and endings.

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  • "make it differ from the direct substantivation of the verb 'entschuldigen'" - if not "Entschuldigung", what is the substantivation of "entschuldigen"?
    – Bergi
    Jun 19 at 23:38
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    Das Entschuldigen ist die Substantivierung des Verbs, d. H. der Tätigkeit, Entschuldigung das zugehörige Substantiv als mögliches Resultat der Tätigkeit Jun 20 at 6:01
  • Is this a general pattern or is it specific to this word? E.g., what about "entscheiden/entscheidung" or achtzehn= acht + zehn? Jun 21 at 14:54
  • The pattern with nouns ending with -ung as the result of the action with the same stem seems a recurring pattern. Not sure what you refer to with achtzehn? Sure it's a compound word from those two numbers and is separated exactly like you spellt it. Jun 21 at 15:51
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The previous answers are correct but I would like to add the following.

Whenever you struggle with a pronounciation of a word, consider the syllables the word consists of.

Tschüss consists of a single syllable which is "Tschüss"

Entschuldigung is Ent-schul-di-gung. If you attempt to pronounce a word syllable by syllable, you will most likely end up with the correct pronounciation.

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    Das setzt voraus, dass man die silbern erkennt. Das ist als Muttersprache e einfach. Aber wie ist das mit Blumentopferde? Blu-men-to-Pfer-de? Blu-men-topf-er-de? Jun 20 at 13:15
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    @planetmaker dafür gibt es Webseiten. silbentrennung24.de
    – Squary94
    Jun 20 at 13:36
  • @Squary94 Automatische Silbentrennung ist aber auch nicht immer korrekt ... ich erinnere mich, dass "Urinstinkt" einst gern als Test für die Qualität eines Silbentrennungsalgorithmus hergenomen wurde ;-) (die verlinkte Webseite macht das aber richtig)
    – orithena
    Jun 20 at 14:44
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    As a sloppy Hannovarian speaker I certainly don't separate the syllables in *Entschuldigung" (saying "Ent-schuldigung" with a clear t and a following separation would sound unnatural and stilted); or, rather, I separate it as "En-(t)schuldigung". Jun 20 at 17:41
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    @leftaroundabout Die phonetische Segmentierung als Blú-men-top-fér-de (statt Blú-men-topf-ér-de) kann ich nicht bestätigen, weder als Hörender noch im eigenen Sprachgebrauch.
    – collapsar
    Jun 21 at 8:38
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I wanted to remark that Carsten S offered a perfect answer, however I'd like to add that for English speakers it might be clearer if they imagined the "ent-" prefix to be quite the same as "de-" in English. Like "delouse", "desulfurise", "desalinate", "dedupe". And you would not split a fixed prefix like the OP wondered, neither phonetically nor at line-endings. (Even if the prefix were longer than two letters in this scenario...)

(Sorry for the separate answer, but I'm not yet allowed to comment to existing answers.)

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Ent-schuldigung is rather for stages in theatre or for newsspeakers in broadcasting/tv. In common German language, you'll probably hear "En-tschuldigung" most often, or even "'Tschuldigung" because it's much easier to say. The more you reach a geographical region which neighbours a state with Slavic foreign language - where "tsch" is a quite common phoneme - the more often you'll here "En-tschuldigung". In a region which is more close to a language which doesn't have a common "tsch", you'll rather hear "Ent-schuldigung".

A proper separation "Ent-schuldigung" requires aspiration of the voiceless "t" (and perhaps a glottis afterwards, I'm not quite shure about that), whereas "En-tschuldigung" does not have separate aspiration of the "t".

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