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Stress placement systems

From:Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>
Date:Tuesday, September 19, 2006, 4:56
I've been wondering a lot about stress lately.

1.  What different "systems" there are for stress placement?  I know
there are languages where the stress is determined by lexical or
morphological factors, and there are also languages where it is
determined by the position and lengths of syllables in a word, e.g.
in Latin it's the antepenultimate, if the penultimate is light;
otherwise the penultimate; and in Finnish, it's always initial.  I
suppose there are some where the accent is always on the second
syllable, etc.  So I'd like to know of the different types of systems
that exist.

2a.  How does secondary stress work, cross-linguistically?  I think
in all of the cases of languages having secondary stress I know of,
secondary stress placement is determined by first finding the primary
stress and then moving a certain number of syllables before and after
it.  What other systems are there for secondary stress placement?
2b.  Would it be reasonable to have primary stress a certain distance
from the end of a word, and primary stress a certain distance from
the beginning, or vice versa?
2c.  Do any languages have a stress accent besides primary and

3.  What sort of gradual changes do languages go through in moving
from one stress placement system to another?

(I'm not sure if these questions warrant a USAGE: or THEORY: tag, or
neither, but I've decided to just go with neither since it seems like
something of general usefulness for conlangers.  Let me know if I
should have tagged this :) )


Sanghyeon Seo <sanxiyn@...>
Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>