I often encounter nouns that I hear of for the first time, and I can not determine which syllable to stress. Unfortunately, I can not find most of these nouns in dictionaries to check the stressed syllable. I am not talking here about nouns of Latin or Greek origin nor about nouns of German origin but about nouns that are most often proper names, brand names (food, drugs..) which are invented only for commercial reasons, trademarks, names of foreign places, cities, rivers, people,... etc.

In English, the rule for the stress position in these nouns is there is no rule, and there is a very high probability if such nouns are given to English native speakers, they might come with very different pronunciations assuming that they have never heard of such words before.

Examples of such words:

Drugs brand names: Altace, Amaryl, Calan, Imitrex, Mevacor, Prilosec, Zoloft,..

Drugs generic names: Zolpidem, Verapamil, Warfarin, Venlafaxine, Fluticasone,..

Names of Chinese cities: Lhasa, Guangzhou, Chongquing,..

How can native speakers predict the stress position in such nouns (that they hear of for the first time)? Is there a tendency to stress the first syllable in such words? Is the stress position arbitrary? What would you advise me to get the stress right in such words?

  • 1
    I honestly find it somewhat hard to understand, how this is related to the German Language. Do you want to know, how to pronounce e.g. non-german brand names with "a german accent" or how it is pronounced in the original language? Usually people pronouce terms from foreign languages (they don't speak) so that it sounds "normal" to them, even if the pronounciation is way off from the original language (however this is the case with all languages, not just german). Sep 9 '18 at 21:15
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    If I get this right, it's mostly about the names of medicine?
    – Janka
    Sep 9 '18 at 21:56
  • @Janka Drugs brand names are very very very important to me, but I tried to extend my question a little bit, I have edited my question to give examples.
    – user34137
    Sep 10 '18 at 2:27
  • @tallistroan Of course I want to know how to pronounce such nouns in the German accent and that is why I am asking where native speakers would put the stress in such words, I have edited my question to give some examples. You try to pronounce foreign words as they are pronounced in their original language, but what would you do (where would you put the stress) if you have no idea how they are pronounced in their original language?
    – user34137
    Sep 10 '18 at 2:30

For words that seem German, the normal rules are applied: stress usually on the first syllable, but with a lot of exceptions.
For foreign words often the rules of that language are used if the speaker knows them, or otherwise the German rules.

  • Thank you a lot for your answer, I have edited my question to give some examples, but what would native speakers do (where would they put the stress?) if they have no idea how such names are pronounced in their original language?
    – user34137
    Sep 10 '18 at 2:32
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    @Abdullah When in doubt, the German stress rules would be used. For the examples you give, all of them would be stressed on the first syllable
    – PiedPiper
    Sep 10 '18 at 7:46
  • Thank you a lot. Your last comment was really really helpful. This was very important to me. What might be obvious for native speakers can be a pretty much difficult myth for non-native speakers, thank you 🌹
    – user34137
    Sep 10 '18 at 8:23

At least for phantasy names of drugs ending on -an, -en, -in, -on, -il, -yl, -al, -ol, there is a pretty easy rule:

You always put the stress on the last (audible) syllable








Note that following a modern habit, some companies have started to spell those things with an "e" at the end which however even in English is not audible:



You still stress the in, al, ol, en or whatever fancy syllable they put at the end to sound scientificish.

For brevity let's call names of that type as names of the -[aeio][ln] group

The vowels in these stressed syllables are always pronounced long, e.g.



(as opposed to short).

**Drug names on -[vowel]x **

I am a little bit in doubt about drug names on -ax and -ex:



In my experience, German pronunciation would be pretty "equally stressed everywhere", or perhaps with a slight preference to stress the first syllable. - To find a pattern here I would need more drug names on -ax and -ex. Based on the current mini-sample of two, it seems, first syllable bears the stress in the -[ae]x group.

However, interestingly, drug names on -ox tend to be stressed on the last syllable


Latin words

Latin words or names of chemicals and drugs are pronounced following the tradition for such words.




Gummi arabicum

This would then hold true even when a drug name is made up poorly mimicking Latin words


Collection of drug names not covered above


  • Thank you very much, You mean both the generic and the brand names, both should be stressed on the last syllable? for other 'strange' proper names that I hear of for the first time and don't know how they are pronounced in the original language (such as the Chinese towns, and the brand names of other things), I should stress the first syllable?
    – user34137
    Sep 10 '18 at 8:56
  • @Abdullah - To answer this, please give me a couple of brand an generic names. - Note that this is for pharmaceuticals. It has nothing to do with Chinese towns or company or product names such as Uber, Ubuntu, Adobe (well that's a regular word anyway), Yahoo, Google, Hanuta, etc. Sep 10 '18 at 9:01
  • Amaryl# glimepride or Celexa# citalopram or Effexor# Venlafaxine
    – user34137
    Sep 10 '18 at 9:04
  • Hm, Paracetamol, Fluoxetin, Valium. I know two guys from Fulda-area who'd always stress the first syllable in your examples, like Bettong instead of Beton . Sep 10 '18 at 9:09
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    @Abdullah I so far do not see a difference between brand names and generic names, as long as they are of the -[iao][ln] group discussed above. Sep 10 '18 at 9:21

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