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Superheavy syllables in stress assignment

In Frisian, superheavy syllables are strong attractors of primary stress. This stress attraction is the subject of this topic.


The majority of polysyllabic words ending in a superheavy syllable with a rhyme of the type A-class vowel plus consonant have final stress, only a few have non-final stress.

Example 1

a. Final stress
akút /ak.ˈkyt/ acute
aktueel /ak.ty.'ʋe:l/ velvet
epiteel /e:.pi.'te:l/ epithelium
klimaat /kli.ˈma:t/ climate
minút /mi.ˈnyt/ minute
systeem /sis.ˈte:m/ system
fulkaan /føl.ˈka:n/ volcano
b. Non-final stress
leraar /'lɪe.ra:r/ teacher
bamboes /ˈbam.bus/ bamboos
kroepoek /ˈkru.puk/ shrimp crackers
mammoet /ˈmam.mut/ mammoth

The stress attraction of final diphthongs plus consonant is practically exceptionless. See the following examples:

Example 2

fontein /fon.ˈtɛjn/ fountain
domein /do:.'mɛjn/ domain
kaptein /kap.pi.'tɛjn/ captain
puritein /py.ri.'tɛjn/ puritan

The only counterexample that can be found is arbeid /ˈar.bɛjt/ labour.


Final BCC-syllables are strong stress attractors as well. However, as with words ending in AC, there are some counterexamples:

Example 3

a. Final stress
aksint /ak.ˈsɪnt/ accent
biljard /bɪl.ˈjart/ billiard
diamant /di.ja:.'mant/ diamond
garant /ɡar.'rɔnt/ guarantor
orkest /ɔr.ˈkɛst/ orchestra
rapport /rap.ˈpɔrt/ report
serpint /sɛr.ˈpɪnt/ serpent
triljard /trɪl.ˈjart/ trillion
b. Non-final stress
ambacht /ˈam.baxt/ craft
eland /ˈe:.lɔnt/ moose
lariks /ˈla:.rɪks/ larch
maarschalk /'ma:r.skɔlk/ marshal
matriks /'ma:.trɪks/ matrix
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Though words like ambacht /ˈam.baxt/ craft and maarskalk /'ma:r.skɔlk/ marshall have a final syllable of the shape BCC, it is the initial syllable which bears primary stress. Such words thus have an unstressed superheavy final syllable; they might therefore be analyzed as formal compounds, which in general have stress on the left-hand part (see The phonological status of words with exceptional superheavy syllables and The phonological status of words with exceptionalities in the behaviour of superheavy syllables).