Many British broadcasters have picked up the
knowledge that in German s is
often pronounced sh, and,
proudly demonstrating their expertise, they pronounce Bundestag as Bundeshtag. This is wrong: s is not always pronounced sh. Its pronunciation depends on
its position in the lexical unit.
followed by a consonant is pronounced sh
as in sturm <shturm> = storm
or in stehen <shtay-’n>
= stand and in its past participle gestanden <ge-shtand’n> = stood.
Initially and medially followed by a vowel s is pronounced z, as in singen <zing’n> = to sing,
or Besen <bayz’n> = broom.
In final position, whether followed by a final
consonant or not, s is
pronounced s, as in das <dass> = the (neuter nominative
& accusative of the definite article) or best = best, (including declined
forms like besten, bester).
Many German words are compounds, made up of more
than one lexical unit, as is Bundestag.
The lexical units here are Bund
<bunt> = union or federation here in the genitive case
with a possessive s <Bundes> plus Tag <tac>, with devoicing of
the final stop = Diet (in the
sense of daily meeting) The correct pronunciation is therefore <bundes-tac>.
If you still doubt this advice compare Bundestag with other words relating
to the German constitution:
<bundesraht> [the upper house]
This should make it quite clear that the initial
lexical unit in all cases is Bundes
with a final voiceless s.
While there is a German word Stag
it means stay or guy-rope, which is scarcely
relevant to the parliamentary context.
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