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Stress in compounds with more than two constituents
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The stress placement in nominal compounds where the second constituent is complex itself shows a considerable amount of variation. There is some evidence, however, indicating that the internal complexity of the constituents may influence the stress placement.

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In a nominal compound of the structure [[A][B]](N), stress sometimes falls on the right-hand constituent if [B] is a compound itself (see Visch 1989; Booij 1995). As we shall see below, there are many counterexamples to the generalization; therefore, the following formulation is far from being an absolute constraint:

Stress in Compounds with more than two constituents
If in a compound [[A][B]], [B] is itself a compound and [A] is not, stress is on the first member of the second constituent.
This principle thus predicts that compound stress in a simplex compound [[A][B]] will be on [A] while in a complex compound [[[A][[B1][B2]]], it will be realized on [B1]. Indeed, various alternations of this kind are attested (examples from Visch 1989:212):

Example 1

vs.
wereldrecord
[[wereld][record]]
/ˈʋe.rəld.rə.ˈkɔːr/
[ˈʋerəldrəkɔːr]
world record
werelduurrecord
[[wereld][[uur][record]]]
/ˈʋe.rəld.ˈyr.rəˈkɔːr/
[ʋerəldˈyrəkɔːr]
one-hour world record
vs.
arbeidsbeleid
[[arbeids][beleid]]
/ˈɑr.bɛids.bə.ˈlɛid/
[ˈɑrbɛitsbəlɛit]
labor policy
arbeidsvoorwaardenbeleid
[[arbeids][[voorwaarden][beleid]]]
/ˈɑr.bɛids.ˈvor.ʋar.dən.bə.ˈlɛid/
[ɑrbɛitsˈvorʋardə(n)bəlɛit]
policy concerning conditions of employment
vs.
huurcommissie
[[huur][commissie]]
/ˈhyr.kɔ.ˈmɪ.si/
[ˈhyrkɔmɪsi]
rent tribunal
huuradviescommissie
[[huur][[advies][commissie]]]
/ˈhyr.ɑd.ˈvis.kɔ.ˈmɪ.si/
[hyrˈɑdviskɔmɪsi]
rent advice tribunal
vs.
studentenvereniging
[[studenten][vereiniging]]
/sty.ˈdɛn.tən.vər.ˈe.nə.xɪŋ/
[styˈdɛntə(n)vərenəxɪŋ]
student union
studentenroeivereniging
[[studenten][[roei][vereiniging]]]
/sty.ˈdɛn.tən.ˈruj.vər.ˈe.nə.xɪŋ/
[stydɛntə(n)ˈrujvərenəxɪŋ]
student rowing club

In the examples in (1), stress is realized on the second constituent of a compound when this constituent is itself complex; when it is simplex, stress is realized on the left-hand member. However, it is not the case that a complex second constituent will always attract stress; as Visch (1989:212) notes, “most recent compounds have, independent of the complexity of their second members, main stress on their first member”. Some examples illustrating this pattern are given in (2). In these forms, the right-hand constituents are compounds themselves, yet they do not receive primary compound stress.

Example 2

zakwoordenboek
[[zak][[woorden][boek]]]
/ˈzɑk.ˈʋor.dən.buk/
[ˈzɑkʋorde(n)buk]
pocket dictionary
zaalvoetbal
[[zaal][[voet][bal]]]
/ˈzal.ˈvut.bɑl/
[ˈzalvudbal]
indoor football
huurachterstand
[[huur][[achter][stand]]]
/ˈhyr.ˈɑx.tər.stɑnd/
[ˈhyrɑxtərstɑnt]
rent arrears
kinderspeelplaats
[[kinder][[speel][plaats]]]
/ˈkɪn.dər.ˈspel.plats/
[ˈkɪndərspelplats]
children’s playground
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x Debate

As early as Van Lessen (1928:16) it has been observed that ‘younger’ compounds with a complex second constituent often have stress on the right-hand member while ‘older’ compounds tend to be stressed on the first constituent. Visch (1989:210-227) argues that branching of second constituents cannot be used as an indicator of the stress pattern in relevant words, as the number of exceptions would be too high.

References:
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Lessen, Jacoba H. van1928Samengestelde naamwoorden in het NederlandschGroningen, Den HaagWolters
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis
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