Translation:Does your country have a large capital city?
I do like that a capital city is a city of beer (yes, I realize the niqqudim are probably different).
Actually, in this case it's not the ניקוד, rather the syllabic stress. Beer is bí-ra, and capital is bi-rá.
There really is no way to tell other than context in the written language then, I guess. What does the latter mean?
If you're asking what I meant by syllabic stress, that refers to where you place your vocal emphasis in the word you're speaking. For instance, take the words cassette and casket. In the word cassette, the stress is on the last syllable, sette, so it's pronounced cassette. In the word casket, the stress is on the first syllable, cas, so it's pronounced casket.
No, I understand what syllabic stress means. I am just curious what the סומך in עיר בירה means by itself. If it is not a city of beer (pity that), what is it a city of?
Well the word בירה simply means capital.. and עיר בירה means capital city.. much in the same way as you can say that Ottawa is Canada's capital just as you can call it Canada's capital city.