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Stress shifts in place names

Many Afrikaans place names are created by compound formation, involving two existing monomorphemes, e.g. the names of persons (e.g. Johannes, Kruger, Venter) and words ending in berg, dorp and rivier, resulting in names like Pilanesberg, Krugersdorp and Venterstad. In the initial stages, such names exhibit the normal compound stress pattern, that is, stress on the first member. With time the original meaning of such names frequently fades away, so that compounds turn into monomorphemes. Frequently such opaque names comply with the normal Main Stress Rule, which stipulates word-final stress in such monomorphemic words. Wissing (2016) describes a variety of such current stress shifts towards the end of the word (Afrikaans on the move).


    The following are a representative number of a larger body of similar Afrikaans place names that frequently exhibit a stress shift to the final constituent, as is normal for monomorphemes: Aalwynspoort, Afslaershoek, Daniëlskuil, Hondeklipbaai, Jacobsdal, Johannesburg, Krugersdorp, Mooimeisiesfontein, Mosselbaai, Onderstepoort, Postmasburg, Potchefstroom, Potgietersrus, Putsonderwater, Reddersburg, Soebatsfontein, Stellenbosch, Vredendal and Witwatersrand.

    Aside from the final constituents found in these place names, viz, baai, bosch (more commonly bos) burg, dal, dorp, fontein, kuil, hoek, poort, rand, rus, stroom and water, other typical constituents that behave similarly in familiar place names are kop, pan, spruit, stad, strand and ville.

    The case of place names ending on park is worth mentioning separately. It is almost exclusively operative in the formation of recently developed towns or extensions of towns. This is in contrast to the situation in the Netherlands and Belgium, where the occurrence of park is restricted to the names of parks, as in Vondelpark. In this respect park in Afrikaans also functions in the names of national parks, like Gemsbokpark or Tsitsikammabospark. Examples of towns' names are: Akasiapark; Artilleriepark; Burgerspark; Erospark; Esselenpark; Kanonnierspark; Kemptonpark; Safaripark; Vanderbijlpark, all of them showing clear main stress on park.

    In contrast, in normal compounds ending with park as final constituent, the regular stress pattern is maintained, cf. blommepark, dierepark, herstelpark, kinderpark, kleiterspeelpark and speelpark, all with primary stress on the first constituent.

    • Wissing, Daan PAfrikaans on the move: evidence from its word stress formation
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