Monday, January 2, 2017

Word-initial /pf/ in German

The German language allows the affricate /pf/ at the beginning of a word. Though written as two letters, this is one sound. The /pf/ developed from /p/ and in fact often corresponds to a /p/ in English.

Here are ten German words which begin with /pf/:

Pfad path
Pfahl pole
Pfanne pan
Pfirsich peach
Pflanze plant
Pflaume plum
Pflug plough
Pfeffer pepper
Pfeife pipe
Pfund pound

The word-initial /pf/ is pronounced /f/ by certain speakers. This affricate often corresponds to a /p/ in English and other Germanic languages. The word  pepper is also pepper in Norwegian, peper in Dutch, peber in Danish and peppar in Swedish. German is unique among Germanic languages for allowing word-initial /pf/ .  

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