From Intonationsforschungen book I quote:

Die Akzentverschiebung verhindert, dass zwei stark betonte Silben zu nahe beieinander stehen. Das gilt für Wörter ebenso wie für Phrasen. And also: Im Wort wandert die Nebenbetonung möglichst weit weg vom Hauptakzent, anstatt eine Alternation zu schaffen. In Phrasen, die aus drei betonbaren Wörtern bestehen, erhält das erste Wort die Nebenbetonung.

Examples from the previous book:

(2)Philoso(1)phie, (2)Analphabe(1)tismus, die (2)schönen jungen (1)Männer, (1)Mit(2)tag, (1)Nachmit(2)tag, (1)Akzentzusammen(2)stoß, (1)Hallenschwimm(2)bad. (2)fing (1)an ; (2)fing (3)an zu (1)reden.

From Phonothek intensiv book I quote:

Beim Zusammentreffen von Haupt- und Nebenakzent wird der Nebenakzent verschoben, z.B. (1)Stadtrund(2)fahrt.

I'm worried about how far I can rely on this rule because previously some native speakers assured me that (1)Stadtrund(2)fahrt is wrong while (1)Stadt(2)rundfahrt/(1)Stadrundfahrt is right so I'm eager to hear other opinions about this rule. Maybe there are exceptions or regional variations that I'm not aware about.

  • In relation to this topic, I still wonder why almost all German dictionaries don't show the position of the secondary stress like English dictionaries do. In an accoustic investigation for secondary stress in German by Felicitas Kleber and Nadine Klipphahn, they concluded that Evidence for secondary stress is worse than chance!, No evidence for a third level of word stress occupying an intermediate position between stressed and unstressed!. Maybe this is why it's not quite clear which syllable has a secondary stress after all. – user34137 Sep 27 '18 at 16:04
  • Please explain the stress notation you use, so we can search for counter examples! – Ludi Sep 29 '18 at 13:49

Wow! Good question. - I have a feeling that I might be co-meant by "some native speakers" so I should perhaps be quiet? - Anyway:

  1. Does really somebody claim that


    is an existing, valid way to pronounce it? I would suppose that's an error or misconception caused by clinging to the semantic constituents of the word. Obvioulsy, prosody does not always stick to semantic borders.

  2. I find that:


    can insofar be seen as a good prosodic description, as - at least when I listen to myself - sowhow Stadtrund and fahrt are separted - as if Stadtrund was a word, which of course it is not. So, from my (semi-layman's) perspective: the rule you quote seems to be pretty precise.

If you test this for other words of similar structure, you will find similar mismatches of prosody and semantic borders.


although there is no Dachüber


although there is no Flußüber


although there is no Hofaus.

All this shows that the prosodic pattern is not tied to the semantic pattern.

Regarding your question about Ich fing an zu reden, m< feeling is that both

Ich (3)fing (2)an zu (1)reden

Ich 2)fing (3)an zu (1)reden

are possible and valid. It depends on a) context b) regional peculiarities of prosody.

  • ❤ I definitely want to hear your opinion, it's so much important and helpful -as always-. What do you think of other cases other than compound nouns, like fing an zu reden? – user34137 Sep 27 '18 at 13:31
  • »Stadtrundfahrt« by Blubbel => de.forvo.com/word/stadtrundfahrt/#de hielte ich für die Standardaussprache. – Pollitzer Sep 27 '18 at 15:31
  • Ähm - keiner sag (1)Dachüber(2)hang oder (1)Hofaus(2)gang oder (1)Blumento(2)pferde. Das sollte dringend und eindeutig klar gestellt werden, denn so wie du es schreibst (einleitende rhetorische Frage und dann "I would suppose") kann man leicht verpassen, dass du hier nur weitere Beispiele einer falschen Betonung aufführst. – Takkat Sep 28 '18 at 6:49
  • @Takkat Thank you, according to my comment above, do you think maybe there is no secondary stress at all in such words? Or maybe this rule is right but can't be applied to all compound nouns?- I don't want rules, personal opinions are helpful in this case. – user34137 Sep 28 '18 at 8:37
  • @Takkat Doch, ich behaupte genau dies: Die Betong in diesen Wörtern erfolgt in normaler, standardmäßiger Aussprache des Deutschen genau dieser Notation: (1)Dachüber(2)hang. Alles andere klänge sehr komisch oder würde zu regionalen/dialektalen Aussprachevarianten gehören. Sagst du etwa (1)Dach(2)überhang? - At most you can claim that there is no secondary stress at all, so the word (or pattern) would be (1)Dachüberhang, with similarly "unstressed" Syllables 2 and 3. – Christian Geiselmann Sep 28 '18 at 13:55

Wer die Existenz von Stádtrundfahrt (' - - ) anzweifelt, weil er *Stadtrúndfahrt sagt, sagt auch *Kurmittelhaus, *Lebensmittelgeschäft usw. Enthüllt damit, wo er residiert (Leute wie C.G. 'wohnen' ja nicht. Viel zu proletarisch!) und führt einen Lernenden wie user34137 nicht mehr verantwortbar in die Irre.

user34137, stick to the short, but perfect description in your Phonothek intensiv book. If in doubt, look up the word on http://www.dict.cc/, where you can hear it pronounced.

Beispiel: http://www.dict.cc/?s=Beschr%C3%A4nktheit&failed_kw=Beschr%C3%A4nkheit


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