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Is it /paˈraːmetɐ/ or /paraˈmeːtɐ/?

In other words, which syllable is stressed?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

As it would be more logical to pronounce this compound loanword from Greek stressed on the first syllable of "meter" this is not the case in standard German where the second syllable will be emphasized:

paˈʀaːmetɐ (IPA) - Parameter

Listen also to this sound file found on Wiktionary: Parameter

The following dictionaries list it emphasized on the second syllable:

Of course regionally the pronunciation of any word differs very much. You may find dialects that would emphasize the first syllable, or others that put emphasis on the third syllable of "parameter".

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You are wrong: You can pronounce the 2nd syllable as well as the 3rd: parAmeter is a fine as paramEter. None of those two posibilities is better or worse then the other. I prefere paramEter, but parAmeter is absolutely correct too. – Hubert Schölnast Jul 23 '12 at 14:44
"You are wrong" sounds quite blunt. Takkat did list 4 different sources to back his statement... that is more reference than most of the other answers in German Stackexchange give... I agree with your point, that other pronunciations are possible and valid also... I just didn't like the harsh tone – Emanuel Jul 23 '12 at 22:02
@Emanuel: I am a native german speaker living in Austria (born in Graz, living in Vienna). I am 47 years old and speak german since ever. I studied physics where you have lots of parameters. "Parameter" is a word that I did hear and use many tenthousand times in german language. I don't need to look into a lexicon to find out what syllable has to be stressed. I did hear is so often! If Takkat says only one possibility is wright, and if he can show up with many sources, then it just means that they all are wrong. Fact is: Paramater can be spoken as ParAmeter as well as ParamEter. – Hubert Schölnast Jul 25 '12 at 6:23
@HubertSchölnast: this may well be true for Austrian German. A reference (maybe an Austrian dicitionary?) would be cool! – Takkat Jul 25 '12 at 6:31
@HubertSchölnast: Cannot agree with your justification. Just because there are many people who pronounce it differently doesn't make it right. Many people also say "diesen Jahres" and yet it's wrong. I'm also in a field where the word "Parameter" is used very often (building automation), and all people agree that "ParAmeter" is correct. One of our largest customers is from Austria and also pronounces it like this. But then, there are also people who think that "Schraubendreher" is the correct word for screw driver. Anyway it is not nice to call someone wrong without backing up your claim. – OregonGhost Jul 25 '12 at 9:12

Actually, both versions are admissible. If you stress the e instead of the second a, that's perfectly fine, at least in common speech.

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Do you have a reference for this? – Takkat Jul 23 '12 at 18:02
@Takkat: Unfortunately, the internet doesn't seem to be on my side. All I can say is that I'm used to hearing (and using) both versions in common speech. It could be technically wrong -- but then again, language is defined foremost by its usage. So, this post should be taken with a grain of salt. – bitmask Jul 24 '12 at 1:47

I am impressed by the search for sources Takkat conducted, but I hope they will forgive me if I scold them harshly and friendly at the same time for this:

As it would be more logical to pronounce this compound loanword from Greek stressed on the first syllable of "meter"

But, let us keep their Ansatz for exploring the Greek roots and let us look closer! Below I juxtaposed Greek roots with German derivatives. I don't use Greek accents, which were a late invention anyway, because I can't typeset them. Instead, I indicate the location of the ancient tonal accent (coinciding locally with the modern Greek stress accent) by use of bolder typeface.

ΠΑΡΑΜΕΤΡΟΣ : Parameter

ΔΙΑΜΕΤΡΟΣ : Diameter


Thus, indeed, Takkats method supports what they sought to support!

Fit of pedantry: I intentionally omitted similar examples with different Gender.

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This seems like an (extensive) comment to me, not an answer to the question. – chirlu Jul 19 at 20:25
@chirlu well, it does accomplish a lot towards answering correctly, but I allow you and Takkat to delete it and add it to Takkats answer.i got comments on my first day. Since those I am reluctant to edit extensively. I allow you to take bold action. I am not doing this for the points:) – Ludi Jul 19 at 20:51
I think that this is a nice example of convolution. Meter, and therefore also Kilometer, Zentimeter etc. are stressed the same way (English doesn’t: kilómetre, centimétre, métre); Barometer and Thermometer are devices that measure things — I believe that -meter is a suffix here, added to what is to be measured. The Parameter doesn’t measure. – Jan Jul 23 at 11:57

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