We do allow questions on as this can at times be rather difficult for learners and occasionally even for natives.

However there are some questions asking for the pronunciation of a single word only without asking or referring to more general pronunciation rules to make the question more valuable for future visitors.

We may want to better define when such a question was on topic, when not. What kind of pronunciation questions are welcome? What could be done to improve any such a question? Do we need a canonical question (or do we already have one) to be able to dupe-close a pronunciation question if it was too localized?

3 Answers 3


I think we can treat such cases quite analogously to requests for translations of single words and require previous research effort.

In this case a minimum research effort would be consulting a dictionary, which provides phonetic notations (usually in the International Phonetic Alphabet) of at least most words. Alternatively, as the German orthography is phonetic (though in a complicated way) for non-loanwords, it may act as a phonetic notation for them.

If the asker reports his findings on the phonetic notation or his deduction from the spelling of a non-loanword and says why they are not satisfying, the question is on topic.

Finally, analogies to other words might help, however, if they fail to yield a satisfying result, the problem is likely not limited to a single word but of a more general nature – which makes it a valid question.

Now, what if the asker does not have sufficient knowledge of German to use use any of the above? Then the actual question can be seen as equivalent to a more general one, for example:

How to pronounce definieren?

might turn into:

How to pronounce words ending on -ieren?

or even:

What are good ways to determine the pronunciation of an unknown German word?

If we decide on this, we should extend our FAQ with instructions for asking questions on pronunciation and in particular have a question like the latter to link it.


Taken from Help Center

Before asking, please consider the following to ensure that your question is welcome and on-topic here: [...]

  • If your question could be answered by a dictionary, a grammar book, or another general reference, consult these. Explain why this did not help you when asking your question.

Applying simple logic:

  • If there is no explanation, why looking the word up in a dictionary did not help, it can be considered off topic.

  • If there is more to the question, e.g. when to pronounce a word different, it might not be a good question, but it is still on topic.


Sorry but I think you are mixing things up here. Too localized is too localized and duplicate is duplicate.

If a question fits the bill for both, it doesn't matter much, as which you close, but if only one applies, don't close for a different reason. This just leads to confusion, for the asker, as well as for other users.

Concerning the actual problem, that I believe you want to address:

Yes, because:

As you mentioned some words are really difficult for learners. Some words are pronounced differently for different meanings, some are pronounced differently in different regions. There's puns and jokes on the matter.

But I think we need to put a bar in here to prevent questions like "How do I pronounce 'Brot'?". It might be worth considering to create a close reason specifically for cases of overly trivial requests.

  • Not mixing up things... but we had not yet defined a reason when (if at all) to close a pronunciation question. This is even more important to do as too localized is no longer a close reason.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 12:27

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