Here is an excerpt from a dialog, where someone is recommending a film to a friend for a watch:

Solltest du dir anschauen!

I heard the reflexive pronoun dir being accented as I listened to the audio file. However, textbooks in intonation teach that pronouns are normally unstressed in natural speech. Hence I am wondering why dir is accented in this particular case?

Here is the context of the excerpt aforequoted:

A: Ich war im Kino. Vorgestern.

B: Was hast du dir angeschaut?

A: Den Neuen von den Coen-Brüdern.

B: Von dem hab ich noch gar nichts gehört.

A: Solltest du dir anschauen! Ist wirklich ein schöner Film.

Following the accented dir is a significant drop to a low pitch on the prefix an and then a rise along schauen. It is a rising pattern, in this particular case suggesting the speaker has not finished his words. Here is the link to the page containing the dialogue: https://slowgerman.com/2014/03/25/slow-german-dialog-1-im-cafe/

  • 2
    Usually, dir should be unaccented, as you say. Maybe it's accented for emphasis in reaction to the situation. Please provide some context about the situation of the dialog, and the sentence(s) that come directly before, so we can explain it better.
    – dirkt
    Apr 20, 2017 at 6:00
  • @dirkt Many thanks for your suggestion. I have quoted more context in the post and hope that provides useful cues.
    – Eunice
    Apr 20, 2017 at 6:12
  • Hm. In that situation, I'd already raise the tone at dir, and keep the voice raised at an, but the main stress is on an. Maybe that's what you hear? I have no idea why, and it's not for emphasis.
    – dirkt
    Apr 20, 2017 at 6:20
  • @dirkt the tone you chose is a falling pattern. In the audio file I listened to, it is a rising pattern, indicating the words are not finished yet. Following ,dir' is a significant drop to a low pitch on the prefix ,an' and then a rise along ,schauen'.
    – Eunice
    Apr 20, 2017 at 6:28
  • 1
    I'd certainly speak that as "Solltest du dir anschauen. Ist wirklich ein schöner Film" or "Solltest du dir anschauen. Ist wirklich ein schöner Film" Apr 20, 2017 at 9:56

4 Answers 4


(The sentence in question is at about 01:05 using the link provided).

It's slowgerman.com, so the intonation and stress are a bit artificial. They are trying to speak slower than normal, and very clearly, so stresses and half-stresses are stronger than they would be in normal speech.

For the actual sentence, I hear this as I described it in the comments: The pitch is raised already at dir, but it's not a stress. The stress is on an, and because it's spoken slowly, the speaker switches to the "independent" intonation pattern and starts with a low pitch. In faster speech, you'd keep the pitch more closely to the one in dir (but maybe drop it somewhat).

So what you hear is a pitch change, and not a stress on dir.

As for why there's a pitch change: I don't know. It could be connected to the perception of reflexive pronoun + verb as a single unit, but that's just a guess.


The straigt answer to your question is: because they pronounce it wrong.

There is no situation in everyday life where 'dir' would be stressed, except for very far-fetched made-up situations such as in the following dialogue where B has a misunderstanding, and then A repeats the sentence stressing the 'dir' because this is the word in question.

[A and B having a conversation close to a noisy construction site]

A: Der Film ist gut. Den solltest du dir anschauen!

B: Was sagst du? Den sollte ich nie anschauen?

A: Den solltest du dir anschauen.

But clearly this is an extremely artificial situation.


This is almost certainly an accident of the phonetic contour of one particular utterance. As you correctly point out, reflexive pronouns do not carry stress as a rule. In this sentence, the pronoun cannot even carry contrastive stress, since there is no such alternative as

*Das solltest du mir anschauen!

with which it could be contrasted.


Quote from @Christian Geiselmann:

There is no situation in everyday life where 'dir' would be stressed, except for very far-fetched made-up situations (...)

Sorry, I can provide samples proving the opposite. The first one (an idiom) is very well known in the German biosphere.

  • Wie du mir, so ich dir.
  • Wer hat denn dir ins Hirn geschissen, dass du so etwas sagst!¹
  • Aus dir mach ich Kleinholz!
  • Und das Schlimmste: Den Bankrott der Firma wird man dir anlasten, nicht ihm.

¹Clarification: This refers not to Christian Geiselmann.

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