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Stress in compounds with two constituents

Two free morphemes can be combined to form a compound. A compound can be either a coordinating compound or a subordinate compound.

In subordinate compounds, the right-hand part is the head of the compound. It determines the morphosyntactic properties of the compound as a whole, for example word class, gender or countability. When taking the categories noun (N), verb (V), and adjective (A) as a point of departure, subordinate compounds may come in nine types: NN, NA, *NV, ?AN, ?AA, *AV, VN, VA, *VV. The types marked with an asterisk do not occur in Frisian, while the ones marked with a question mark are not very common. The types with an asterisk, however, can occur with an exocentric interpretation or when they are modified by another word (see (Hoekstra 1998:29) for details).

Because coordination is only possible with equivalent members, we may expect the following types of coordinate compounds to occur: NN, AA, and VV. However, in Frisian the only coordinate compounds attested are of the type AA. Coordinating compounds of the type NN and VV are only possible with an exocentric meaning, or in the modifier position of another word. In coordinating compounds, there is not a real head.

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There is a small number of compounds with a preposition as a first or second member: PN, VP, PP, and a P combined with a reciprocal pronoun (see Stress in nominal compounds and Stress in prepositional compounds).

Frisian compound stress can be split into four categories. Details can be found in the following topics:

While in nominal compounds stress is usually on the first constituent (strong-weak pattern), there is some (systematic) variation in other types of compounds: adjectival compounds and verbal compounds show both the strong-weak and the weak-strong pattern. While it has been argued that adjectival compounds have default stress on the right-hand constituent (at least in predicative position); the position of stress in verbal compounds is largely dependent on whether the relevant verbs are separable or not: non-separable verbs have stress on the right-hand constituent, separable verbs on the left-hand one. The members of the small group of prepositional compounds are always stressed on their right-hand constituent.

Compounding is further discussed in Frisian morphology.

[+]Compound Stress Rule

In the literature on Dutch, there are two views on compound stress. Some linguists assume that there is only a strong-weak pattern, as expressed by the Compound Stress Rule (CSR), whereas compounds with a weak-strong pattern are considered exceptions to this general pattern. This is dubbed Possibility A here (see for example Booij (1995)). Other linguists argue that different types of compounds have different (default) stress patterns, which is called Possibility B here (see for example Langeweg (1988), Visch (1989), Trommelen and Zonneveld (1989), and Backhuys (1989)). Frisian has the same stress patterns as Dutch.

In this scenario, there is one CSR. Deviating patterns are regarded as exceptions to the rule.

Compound Stress Rule (CSR)
In a compound [[A][B]], [A] is strong.

Nominal compounds and verbal compounds have default stress on their initial constituent, while adjectival and prepositional compounds are stressed on their final constituent. Under this assumption, the Compound Stress Rule has to be extended with specifications for category (Visch (1989:106)). All patterns have exceptions, though they may be few.

In this approach, stress in nominal compounds is expressed by the following rule:

Nominal Compound Stress Rule (NCSR)
In a nominal compound [[A][B]](N), [A] is strong.
Examples are:

Example 1

sinneljocht [[sinne][ljocht]] ['sɪn.nə.ˌljɔxt] sunshine
túnbroek [[tún][broek]] ['tym.bruk] overalls

The same stress pattern holds for the significantly smaller group of verbal compounds, as expressed by the following rule:

Verbal Compound Stress Rule (VCSR)
In a verbal compound [[A][B]](V), [A] is strong.
Examples are:

Example 2

hânwaskje [[hân][waskje]] ['hõ.vɔs.kjə] to wash one's hands
kofjedrinke [[kofje][drinke]] ['kof.jə.ˌdrɪŋ.kə] to have coffee

Adjectival compounds generally show a weak-strong pattern in predicative position vs. a strong-weak one in attributive position (yet there is a closed group of compounds with a fixed strong-weak pattern). The general stress pattern of adjectival compounds is expressed by the following rule:

Adjectival Compound Stress Rule (ACSR)
In an adjectival compound [[A][B]](A), [B] is strong in predicative position and [A] is strong in attributive position.
For example:

Example 3

Dy frou is wat wrâldfrjemd [[wrâld][frjemd]] [vrɔ:t.'frjɛmt] That woman is somewhat other-worldly
De wat wrâldfrjemde frou [[wrâld][frjemd]] ['vrɔ:t.frjɛmdə] The somewhat other-wordly woman

Prepositional compounds have a preposition as a first or a second member. Since stress is always on the preposition, they have either a strong-weak or a weak-strong pattern, see Stress in prepositional compounds.

  • Backhuys, Kees-Jan1989Adjectival compounds in DutchBennis, H. & Kemenade, A. van (eds.)Linguistics in the NetherlandsDordrecht1-10
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Langeweg, S. J1988The stress system of DutchUniversity of LeidenThesis
  • Trommelen, Mieke & Zonneveld, Wim1989Klemtoon en metrische fonologieMuiderbergCoutinho
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis