pf (pronunciation)

  • Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    In the middle or at the end of a word, it's always "p + f" as one sound. At the beginning, most people prefer to omit the "p" sound: "Flaume" instead "Pflaume", "Fand" instead of "Pfand". To me, the "pf" sound at the beginning sounds stilted. :)

    In colloquial speech, I sometimes also don't use it in the other places: I say "Kopp" instead of "Kopf", "Zippel" instead of "Zipfel", but it's always "zapfen". ;)

    However, I don't want to confuse you. The sound "pf" at the beginning of a word is still understood by everyone in Germany, but to pronounce it like an "f" is first easier for you and second smoother to most people's ears.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    In the middle or at the end of a word, it's always "p + f" as one sound. At the beginning, most people prefer to omit the "p" sound: "Flaume" instead "Pflaume", "Fand" instead of "Pfand". To me, the "pf" sound at the beginning sounds stilted. :)
    I think, this depends on the region and partly on the purpose and it is an indicator for language change.

    Standard is to pronounce the "pf" sound at the beginning of a word as "pf". (Duden, das Aussprachewörterbuch)

    "pp" instead of "pf" was the standard before sound shift. In some regions it is kept alive.

    Compare:

    Apfel - engl. apple (English did not change the "pp" sound.)

    But in some regions "Apfel" is spoken "appel" in Germany, especially in the north part. There is also the word "Äppelkahn" (was boat for apples, now small ship) in the dialect - known also in Sachsen. In Berlin you can hear "für'n Appl' und 'n Ei" (for an apple and an egg - for peanuts)

    In the south you have village names like "Effelder" (in Switzerland there is "Affoltern") where "ff" replaced the "pp/pf" already some centuries ago. It comes from old high German "Affoltra" = apple tree.

    Pflaume:

    English: plum -> German standard: Pflaume -> further sound shift "Flaume" (as described by whodunit.)

    English changed basically the vowels, German changed the consonants.
     
    Last edited:

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I think, this depends on the region and partly on the purpose and it is an indicator for language change.
    Yes, this certainly depends on region.

    In Austria /pf/ is always /pf/, it is never pronounced /f/.
    The substitution of /pf/ with /p/ however is a substitution with a regional (dialect) word; what Whodunit describes is, if I got this right, pronunciation of /pf/ as /f/ in standard language at the beginning of a word.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Yes, this certainly depends on region.

    In Austria /pf/ is always /pf/, it is never pronounced /f/.
    The substitution of /pf/ with /p/ however is a substitution with a regional (dialect) word; what Whodunit describes is, if I got this right, pronunciation of /pf/ as /f/ in standard language at the beginning of a word.
    No. This substitution is regionally. The "Aussprachewörterbuch" (Duden) which gives hints to the standard does not omit the "p".
     
    Last edited:

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    You're right. I'm sorry, if I confused you, sokol. :(
    But probably it is regional pronunciation of standard language? I don't know wether this pronunciation of /pf/ as /f/ is a feature of regional colloquial language or a feature of regional pronunciation of standard language: both are two different things. (I do know that this is not a feature of standard language without regional accent.) That would be for you to tell as I don't know the accents of your region.

    My Duden Aussprachewörterbuch (2nd edition) states under "Nichthochlautung - Umgangslautung" (p. 67) that /pf ts/ may be pronounced /f s/; if this were true - that is /pf > f/ is not allowed for "Hochlautung" = standard language - then Hutschi's statement is correct that this is not standard language.
    However, I have serious doubts about Duden being correct concerning all the features mentioned under "Umgangslautung"; there are certainly some that definitely are part of standard language pronunciation in some regions, e. g.:
    - /ç/ pronounced as /k/ in 'einig' is a standard feature (not at all considered non-standard!) of pronunciation in Austria; probably elsewhere this indeed is considered non-standard, in Austria however this very clearly is not the case
    - /ʒ dʒ/ pronounced as /ʃ tʃ/ e. g. in 'Blamage', 'Garage' etc.: this too is clearly standard language in Austria, and in this case I am quite sure that the voiceless pronunciation of this phonemes also is acceptable for standard language in Germany

    Therefore I cannot tell if Duden is correct in the case of /pf ts/ > /f s/: one may have doubts, I certainly have.
    Of course, as already mentioned, this shift of /pf > f/ never happens in Austria, but that is not the point here.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    It might be more a matter of age. I still learned to say "Pflaume". Of course, I was familiar with "Flaume" already as a kid, but my upbringing is to understand this as "lazy" pronounciation (sorry, Sokol for saying this again but this is how I learned how "one has to regard this"). Today the attitude to those simplifications have changed and are regarded as perfectly standard.
     

    Rabau

    Member
    Chinese, Cantonese
    I'm also confused as we hear they pronounce 'pf' as 'f' when pf starts a word.

    but in the middle of a word, pf sounds clear 'p+f ' , My teacher told me p is voiceless before f, just like the English P.

    In the middle or at the end of a word, it's always "p + f" as one sound. .
    But to my ear that it just sounds like p is also omitted in a middle of a word, talking dictionary : http://www.dwds.de/?qu=empfehlen&submit_button=Suche&view=1

    also do you have demonstration of mouth when producing that sound, I'm really lost in this sound.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The prefix syllable emp- is a strange beast. It usually occurs in front of roots staring with /f/. I don't think the "p" is real. It is just an artifact of the transition from [m] to [f].
     

    Rabau

    Member
    Chinese, Cantonese
    The prefix syllable emp- is a strange beast. It usually occurs in front of roots staring with /f/. I don't think the "p" is real. It is just an artifact of the transition from [m] to [f].
    Do you mean p is omitted after emp- prefix, but in other words at the middle will be also pronounced with f ?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    "pp" instead of "pf" was the standard before sound shift. In some regions it is kept alive.

    Compare:

    Apfel - engl. apple (English did not change the "pp" sound.)

    But in some regions "Apfel" is spoken "appel" in Germany, especially in the north part. There is also the word "Äppelkahn" (was boat for apples, now small ship) in the dialect - known also in Sachsen. In Berlin you can hear "für'n Appl' und 'n Ei" (for an apple and an egg - for peanuts)
    Just one small correction: Both in German and in English -pp- is a purely orthographic device to indicate that the preceding vowel is short. The Low German "Appel" is in fact /apəl/, not /appəl/.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Just one small correction: Both in German and in English -pp- is a purely orthographic device to indicate that the preceding vowel is short. The Low German "Appel" is in fact /apəl/, not /appəl/.
    In a certain way he's right, at least etymologically. The Upper German /pf/ developed as part of the 2nd stage of the High German sound shift and as such affected only /p-/ and /-pp-/ as /-p-/ was already converted to /-ff-/ or /-f-/ during the first stage.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top