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I understand that Fräulein is lexically accented (stressed) more on the first syllable than the second; wiktionary shows IPA pronunciation as /ˈfʁɔɪ̯laɪ̯n/, /ˈfʁɔlaɪ̯n/, and also wikipedia says "Stress in German usually falls on the first syllable, with the following exceptions: ..."

Anyhow, encountering Das Waldfräulein in a list of works of von Ebner-Eschenbach, it occurred to me that my inclination to accent the first syllable of Waldfräulein rather than the second might be incorrect. Does this word fall into one of the classes of exceptions mentioned in the above wikipedia reference, such as compound adverbs or words with inseparable prefixes? What's the correct placement of accent for Waldfräulein?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Waldfräulein is normally accented more on the first syllable than on the second. It is not an exception described in the wikipedia article you mentioned. Waldfräulein is a compound noun of the two nouns Wald and Fräulein.

Exception: For example:

Ich bin ein Waldfräulein und keine Waldfrau.

In this example, you can accent either the first syllable of the compound words Waldfräulein and Waldfrau (as usual), or you can accent the first syllable of the -fräulein/-frau part (in this case the second syllable of the whole compound word) of both the words Waldfräulein and Waldfrau in order to emphasize acoustically the difference between a Fräulein (young or unmarried woman) and a Frau (adult or married woman).

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Good point about emphasis to contrast differences. :-) – Kevin Feb 17 '12 at 7:03

The emphasis on the first syllable (on Wald) would be correct and standard in this case, although it seems to me that I have heard some people who might put the stress on the second here, but that would be more a regional or dialectic variation (perhaps in some southern regions?). You might also check out a couple of articles from Duden about the accent syllable (Akzentsilbe) for further study.

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