How to pronounce
Malcolm Potter Brown

Auksford arms: a great auk displaying an open book showing the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
Auksford, 2018

Copyright Malcolm Potter-Brown, 2018

    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.
    Initial s 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:
    Bundeskanzler  <bundes-kantsler>
    Bundespräsident <bundes-president>
    Bundesrat <bundesraht> [the upper house]
    Bundesrepublik <bundes-raypublík>

    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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