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Stress in compounds with two constituents

Dutch compounds can be classified into four categories:

This classification is based on the word class of the compound, which in turn is determined by the syntactic head of the compound, i.e. its rightmost constituent.


While in nominal compounds, stress is usually on the first constituent (strong-weak pattern), there is some more systematic variation in other types of compounds: adjectival compounds and verbal compounds show both patterns. While it has been argued that adjectival compounds have default stress on the right-hand constituent (at least in predicative position; Langeweg 1988, Visch 1989, Trommelen and Zonneveld 1989, Backhuys 1989), 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.

  • Backhuys, Kees-Jan1989Adjectival compounds in DutchBennis, H. & Kemenade, A. van (eds.)Linguistics in the NetherlandsDordrecht1-10
  • Langeweg, S. J1988The stress system of DutchUniversity of LeidenThesis
  • Trommelen, Mieke & Zonneveld, Wim1989Stress, Diphthongs, r in DutchH. Bennis & A. van Kemenade (eds.)Linguistics in the Netherlands 1989DordrechtForis
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis