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In the word blockälteste, what syllable (or syllables) gets the stress, please? Obviously not a word people say too often—and I cannot find a pronunciation for it online.

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Don't know that word, but I would guess that the first syllable gets emphasis. –  Baz Jan 17 '13 at 17:37
    
Some context to that word: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapo_(concentration_camp) or de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funktionsh%C3%A4ftling "Im Lager selbst waren wichtige Funktionsträger Lagerälteste, Blockälteste und Stubenälteste. Die höchste Position, die ein Häftling erreichen konnte, war die des Lagerältesten" –  splattne Jan 22 '13 at 7:18
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2 Answers

The IPA would be [ˈblɔk(ˌ)ɛlʲtəstə]. Primary stress on the first syllable, with the second syllable optionally taking secondary stress.

In fact, as a general rule, in compounds it is the first element (or root) that gets the primary stress. See for yourself: Auto­bahn, Wohnungs­tür, Herbst­wetter, Kontroll­fluß­graph, etc. More notable still, this is actually quite similar to how things work in English, another Germanic language — the canonical examples in any Linguistics 101 being black board (just a noun and an adjective, equal stress on both words) vs. blackboard (compound, stress on the first element); white house vs. White House; nice rack vs. coat rack; and so on and so forth.

Back to German, though, and there to secondary stress. The longer the compound, the more likely is it to get secondary stress(es), effectively getting "broken up" into smaller compounds (compare: Kontroll­fluß­graph vs. Kontroll­fluß­graph­visuali­sierungs­software vs. Kontroll­fluß­graph­visuali­sierungs­software­entwicklerbüro ).

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Nice rack? .... –  Carsten Schultz Dec 16 '13 at 13:16
    
@Carsten: are all your compliments rhetorical? –  RegDwight Dec 16 '13 at 13:19
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That word is composed of the words "Block" (block) and "Älteste" (oldest female person), with "Block" getting the emphasis.

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