How is the ending -ig pronounced, and where?

46

9

I've heard the following alternatives for pronouncing the ending -ig of words like fertig and lustig:

  • /ɪç/ (as in mich)
  • /ɪʃ/ (as in Fisch)
  • /ɪg/
  • /ɪk/

Where are the different pronunciations used? Are there more alternatives?

Tim

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 8 597

7I think four are more than enough... ;) – splattne – 2011-05-31T10:23:15.710

2This is a very good question. Many Germans are confused about it, too, even if they use the correct pronunciation. – Carsten S – 2013-08-28T12:24:57.310

As a not German native speaker, who has lived in southern Germany, I can attest I've heard all of the variations, so I guess nothing got solved here. Saludos desde México – None – 2013-11-27T05:02:58.040

Answers

24

This map, from a collection of surveys done by the university of Augsburg, shows the distribution of the different pronunciations:
Aussprache König, wenig und zwanzig

How König is pronounciated in different regions

AndreKR

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 390

1The survey this map is based on was of course flawed because it did not offer the option König. Since Southern German does not have final hardening («Auslautverhärtung»), we may assume that most of the Könik entries in this map really ought to be König. – mach – 2017-06-07T16:50:45.583

1I can't hear/imagine what the difference between König and Könik might sound like. – AndreKR – 2017-06-07T17:51:05.023

I pronounce it with something between a soft g and ch. – inarilo – 2017-06-07T20:32:46.110

21

There are regional differences.

In Austria and the southern areas of Germany, you will hear

Honig like "Honik"

König like "Könik"

When I took speech and drama lessons half a life time ago, it was pointed out that these words actually rhyme with "ich", so /ɪç/ is correct.

Honig is pronounced like "Honich"

König is pronounced like "Könich"

wenig is pronounced like "wenich", but of course it is a "g" sound in "weniger als ich dachte"

teylyn

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 2 937

1I thought that was a pronunciation exception for adjectives, but you seem to be right. I've always thought König was pronounced -ig or -ik in standard German. – Tim – 2011-05-31T10:31:00.960

2The "Fisch"-like ending is very typical for Saxony. Additionally the "i" can merge to an "ü" sound or get swallowed. ^^ – ladybug – 2011-05-31T13:32:55.780

2And of course there are some regions where weniger is pronounced with something between /ç/ and some kind of /j/. – Debilski – 2011-06-01T11:48:16.813

2Sorry to say but I have never ever heard anybody in Austria or Bavaria using a emphasized k instead of a g. I know of north and easter germany the usage of 'ch' instead of g. Please be more specific about what regions are included (south is pretty big, and Baden-Wuerttemberg and Vorarlberg are using alemanic but are less than 1/3 of the south ... – Samuel Herzog – 2011-06-01T23:24:04.090

I live in Austria for almost 50 years. I never heard "Honik" or "Könik". The last konsonant is pronounced as a "g", not a "k": Honig and König (spoken exactly as written). But to be precise: This is NOT a dialect-pronounciation! This is austrian standard german! – Hubert Schölnast – 2013-11-27T14:51:22.097

@HubertSchölnast Actually the (Austrian) pronounciation lies somewhere in between. Same goes for p/b and t/d. Most notably that can be seen from the genuinely southern question "Mit hartem oder weichem [...]?". Try pronouncing either with a distinct /g/, and you will feel alienated by yourself. Still, "Könik" is obviously not an ample description. – None – 2014-11-11T00:48:45.763

5

Noch eine kleine Ergänzung (mit Links zu mp3-Dateien) zu der Antwort von teylyn:

Laut Duden Band 6 – Das Aussprachewörterbuch spricht man in der deutschen Standardlautung für das Suffix „-ig“ den Ich-Laut [ɪç].

fertig [ˈfɛrtɪç] – mp3

lustig [ˈlʊstɪç] – mp3

König [ˈkøːnɪç] – mp3

In Österreich, der Schweiz sowie einigen Teilen Süddeutschlands wird dagegen „-ig“ häufig allgemein als Verschlusslaut [ɪg] oder [ɪk] gesprochen:

fertig – mp3 (Österreich)mp3 (Schweiz)

lustig – mp3 (Österreich)mp3 (Schweiz)

König – mp3 (Österreich)mp3 (Schweiz)

Loong

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 10 539

Hörst Du irgendwo [ɪg]? Ich nicht. – Carsten S – 2014-11-10T22:05:47.427

Related: Hat das Österreichische keine Auslautverhärtung?

– Loong – 2014-11-12T15:08:20.450

Die Links geben bei mir komische Apache errors. Ist das bei anderen auch so, oder bin das nur ich? – fifaltra – 2014-12-30T13:03:03.307

5

When 'g' forms part of an -ig suffix it is pronounced as -ich using the /ç/ phoneme.

Eilig

Traurig

Honig

In some parts of Germany however, you may hear the consonant in an -ig suffix pronounced in a way that is closer to the /-ig/ phoneme.

user508

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation:

4

With adjectives, I was very specifically taught that without an ending, it's pronounced /ɪç/ (ie. fleißig), but when an ending is given, it changes to /ɪg/ (ie. der fleißige Student).

Edit: Should add, this is for standard Hochdeutsch.

Spring Blossoms

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 171

4

I actually learned in school that Berg is pronounced Berch. It's also Hamburch (or, rather, Hambuäch, if you're from Kiel, like me). This is not true in standard German pronunciation, as teylyn explains.

Because of the regional differences, you can basically use all variants, anyone will understand you. -ig will usually fade to -ik, though, because of the German Auslautverhärtung.

OregonGhost

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 12 611

4sorry, but that's simply wrong. Berg is not pronounced with a "ch" sound at the end. Auslautverhärtung is a phenomenon that applies to other contexts, for example laufend sounds like "laufent". But the correct pronunciation of the ending -ig is always /ɪç/ (as in mich), although in some regions it will be pronounced with a hard g or k ending. – teylyn – 2011-05-31T10:57:29.323

6+1.05 for "you can basically use all variants". -.05 for Berch. You don't even have mountains in Kiel!!1 ;) – splattne – 2011-05-31T10:58:31.877

@teylyn: That may be wrong, but is what I was taught in school, with this specific example. Sorry for that. With my Auslautverhärtungsbeispiel, I meant that when pronouncing the ending as g rather than ch, it fades to a hard k automatically. I did not mean that ch automatically fades to g or k. – OregonGhost – 2011-05-31T11:42:57.693

@splattne: But there's the Bungsberg in Schleswig-Holstein, which actually has a ski lift. Yes, it's just 166m ;) – OregonGhost – 2011-05-31T11:44:03.043

Add Hambuich for my personal idiosyncrasy – Hagen von Eitzen – 2013-05-01T21:26:21.147

1plus one for the reference to Auslautverhärtung! :) – elena – 2011-11-29T13:38:07.043

3

I listened to my old copy of "The Three-Penny Opera" and got the definite impression that the "isch" ending is sometimes voiced up to "izh". Lotte Lenya almost (but not quite) does it in "das Schiff mit acht Segeln und mit funfzizh Kanonen"; however, the amazing Willy Trenk-Trebitsch certainly does it in "Das Lied von der Unzulaenglichkeit":

"Den, fuer dieses Leben

Ist der Mensch nischt gut genug.

Darum hau ihn eben

Ruhizh auf den Hut."

(But maybe this is just a dramatic affectation. )

Marty Green

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 1 609

Careful with recordings from that era! At the time they still had some peculiar pronunciation habits that were necessary for public speakers with no (or later very poor) amplification systems, or for grammophone recordings. Nowadays they are no longer necessary to be understood, so they are no longer in common use. Not even among opera singers. – Hans Adler – 2015-03-18T15:28:46.433

I love this discussion group. – Marty Green – 2015-03-19T03:10:08.083

3

Wikipedia's Standard German article says:

  • /ɪʃ/ is used in western Germany
  • /ɪk/ is used in southern Germany

user2013

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 527

1

Mainly what other people have said.

However there is also the variant [iʒ], heard in the Rhine-Hessian region (Mainz, Alzey and others).

What was said about Berg does apply. The Rhine-Hessian region also pronounces that one as [bɛʒ] (the r almost unheard, the g turned into a French j). People from Hamburg often call their town [hamburç]. And some accents even ignore the 'turn to [ig] if there is an ending following' rule: in Franconian, less is pronounced [weniçɛ].

And, as a Bavarian and user of the [ik]-variant (which can also be called [ig]-variant), I have to correct taylyn in that there is no single correct way to pronounce those endings. Every one is equally valid.

So you see, anything goes ;)

Jan

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 30 542

1

  • /ɪʃ/ (as in Fisch)

This is common where people cannot speak the first variant (ɪç/ as in mich), for example in the Saarland and the palatinate.

starblue

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 1 907

0

There are some people like me how believed the simplifying lie

Man schreibt es wie man es spricht

told by their mother or some teachers, that things are spoken the same way as they are written.

I tend to to pronounce König like "König".

bernd_k

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 5 214

0

I sometimes use /ɪç/ when talking with close friends or people who also speak my dialect. But the "correct" pronunciation my parents taught me is /ɪg/.

Othar

Posted 2011-05-31T10:19:17.930

Reputation: 9