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Lexical stress

Despite the possibility to formulate generalizations concerning the locus of primary stress on the basis of segmental composition and syllable weight, a variety of cases remain in which these generalizations do not hold. As a consequence, Dutch stress must be partially lexical. This is shown most clearly by the following segmentally identical minimal pairs that differ with respect to stress placement only:

Example 1

kanon [ka.ˈnɔn] cannon vs. canon [ˈka.nɔn] canon
service [sɛr.ˈvis] service vs. Servisch [ˈsɛr.vis] Serbian

Note, however, that the word Servisch is derived.


Next to above-mentioned minimal pairs, we find a variety of cases where primary stress does not seem to be predictable from segmental content or syllable structure. Consider the following examples from Celex (Baayen 1995). Note that A and B stand for A-class vowels and B-class vowels, respectively, and C for consonant.

Example 2

a. A-AC
      tapir ['ta.pir] tapir vs. klavier [kla.'vir] piano
b. A-A
      bijou [bi.ˈʒu] jewel vs. bougie [ˈbu.ʒi] spark plug
      niveau [ni.'vo] level vs. lido ['li.do] lido
      kopie [ko.'pi] copy vs. bogie [ˈbo.ɣi] bogie
      taboe [ta.'bu] taboo vs. baboe ['ba.bu] baboe (nanny)
      tarot [ta.'ro] tarot vs. taco ['ta.ko] taco
c. BC-BC
      canvas [ˈkɑn.vɑs] canvas vs. kompas [kɔm.ˈpɑs] compass
      gallon [ˈxɑl.ɔn] gallon vs. ballon [bɑ.ˈlɔn] balloon
d. A-BC
      bizon [ˈbi.zɔn] bison vs. bidon [bi.ˈdɔn] bottle
      kokos [ˈko.kɔs] coconut vs. kolos [ko.ˈlɔs] colossus
e. B-A-A
      kabbala [kɑ.ˈba.la] kabbalah vs. baccarat [bɑ.ka.ˈra] baccarat
  • Baayen, R. Harald, Piepenbrock, Richard & Gulikers, L1995The CELEX Lexical Database (CD-ROM), Release 2, Dutch Version 3.1