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The closed penult restriction

It has been reported repeatedly in the literature that in words with two or more syllables, primary stress cannot skip the penultimate syllable if that syllable is closed (see Visch and Kager 1984; Kager 1989; Gussenhoven 2009; ); the relevant restriction is formulated in the following generalization (along the lines of Kager 1989):

Closed penult restriction
Primary stress cannot be on the antepenult if the penult is closed and contains a full vowel.

Thus, in words like agenda agenda, rododendron rhododendron primary stress can only be on the penult, whereas antepenultimate stress as well as final stress are excluded:

Example 1

agenda [a.'ɣɛn.da] [*'a.ɣɛn.da] [*a.ɣɛn.'da]
rododendron [ro.do.'dɛn.drɔn] [*'ro.do.dɛn.drɔn] [*ro.do.dɛn.'drɔn]

The pattern is indeed very strong, as the data from CELEX show.

However, there are some counterexamples; they consist of words ending in superheavy syllables, which are strong attractors of stress themselves. Such words have final stress almost without exception. Furthermore, there are also a few words with closed penults where a final (open) A-class vowel syllable or a final (closed) B-class vowel syllable receive stress. CELEX lists the following words:

Example 2

a. Superheavy
      avontuur [a.vɔn.'tyr] adventure
      belemniet [be.lɛm.'nit] belemnite
      eglantier [e.ɣlan.'tir] Eglantine rose
      molybdeen [mo.lɪb.'den] molybdenum
      salangaan [sa.laŋ.'ɣan] swiftlet
      simultaan [si.mʏl.'tan] simultaneous
b. A-class vowel
      diaree [di.jɑ.'re] diarrhea
      odyssee [o.dɪ.'se] odyssey
      energie [e.nɛr.'ʒi] energy
      fricandeau [fri.kɑn.'do] tenderloin
c. B-class vowel
      bataljon [bɑ.tɑl.ˈjɔn] battalion
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos2009Vowel duration, syllable quantity and stress in DutchThe nature of the word. Essays in honor of Paul KiparskyCambridge, MA.; LondonMIT Press181--198
  • Kager, René1989A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and DutchDordrechtForis
  • Kager, René1989A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and DutchDordrechtForis
  • Visch, Ellis & Kager, René1984Syllable weight and Dutch word stressBennis, H. & Lessen Kloeke, W. van (eds.)Linguistics in the Netherlands10Benjamins