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Re: OT: Justifying a stress pattern (plus OT: joke last name templates)

From:Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Date:Monday, December 31, 2007, 2:42
On Dec 30, 2007, at 8:22 AM, Mark J. Reed wrote:

> On Dec 30, 2007 12:28 AM, Eric Christopherson <rakko@...> > wrote: >> Somewhat off-topic: I was thinking the other day about my last name >> and why it's accented on the second syllable rather than the first >> (vs. the given name Christopher). I have a theory that maybe it's >> because the majority of -erson names in English are accented on the >> syllable just before -erson. > > It's far more general than that. Adding morphemes to English words > often shifts the emphasis. For instance, pick almost any adjective > with stress that's not on the final syllable. If you add "-ity" to > nominalize it, ithe stress shifts: '[fn]ormal => [fn]or'mality, > 'viscous => vis'cosity. 'tranquil => tran'quility; sub'jective => > subjec'tivity. This can happen even when a morpheme is removed first: > a'nonymous => ano'nymity.
Right, but my impression was that those words had gone through natural evolution in English, whereas borrowed (from Scandinavian) names would not have gone through it -- but I don't know how long the name has existed in English; maybe it has been there long enough to evolve with the rest.
> > There are some general rules of thumb (with exceptions, of course): > English words only have three stress levels: primary, secondary, and > unstressed. And you can't have more than two unstressed syllables in > a row. (Well, "can't" is too strong for a rule of thumb. You can, > but it feels unnatural to native speakers.) Because "Christopher" > has one stressed and two unstressed syllables,
For me it has a secondary accent (or tertiary maybe, according to some treatments of stress) on the last syllable, although now that I think about it I can also imagine it with completely unstressed second and third syllables.
> the form > *'Christopherson has no good candidate for secondary stress and is > rejected.
You have a point, provided the first name part of it has only primary stress. In that case I'm tempted to secondarily stress the -son, but that sounds a little weird, and it also sounds weird to secondarily stress the third syllable. Be that as it may, people sometimes *do* accent it (incorrectly) on the first syllable. I'm not sure which secondary accentuation they use.
> Also, you have the famous antecedent of Kris > Kristofferson. :) > >> It's also funny that people use Mc-, which, being an Irish and >> Scottish Gaelic-derived prefix, doesn't tend to occur along with the >> mostly Scandinavian -[s]son/-[s]sen or German -[s]sohn. There is >> McPherson, but that doesn't count because the -son is not derived >> from its own morpheme. > > Well, I think that's intentional. McSillyson is funny precisely > because it's unlikely - and unlikely because it's redundant. :)
Oh, yes -- in that they are both patronymics.
> > -- > Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
On Dec 30, 2007, at 1:11 PM, Lars Finsen wrote:
> Den 30. des. 2007 kl. 15.22 skreiv Mark J. Reed: > >> Because "Christopher" >> has one stressed and two unstressed syllables, the form >> *'Christopherson has no good candidate for secondary stress and is >> rejected. Also, you have the famous antecedent of Kris >> Kristofferson. :) > > Could be worth mentioning that the Scandinavian name Kristoffer > unlike the English Christopher is stressed on the middle syllable. > I assume KK's stock is from around these parts.
Oh, I didn't realize that. I don't know about KK, but my family is from Denmark/northern Germany.
> > The surname Christopherson is not uncommon in the north of Britain. > I suppose they all have the usual 2nd syllable stress. (Or what?) > > LEF >


Lars Finsen <lars.finsen@...>