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Stress shift towards word-final position

A strong tendency is present for primary stress, especially in multisyllabicmonomorphemes that have originally had stress on the initial syllable, to shift towards the end of such words, mainly to the final syllable, except in cases where this syllable is unstressed according to the Main Stress Rule of Afrikaans. Such stress shift is important independent evidence in support of this rule (see Overview of the Main Stress Rules of Afrikaans). Wissing describes a variety of such stress shifts towards the end of the word Afrikaans on the move.


    In the following section, a representative number of examples of this phenomenon is given. Note that most of these examples are recognised by authoritative dictionaries, such as the pronunciation dictionary (Le Roux and Pienaar 1971) and HAT-6.

    Some of the cases mentioned here are, however, more recent shifts, noted personally by the author.

    Stress shift in simplexes
    Table 1: Stress shift in simplexes
    akkusatief majesteit
    alikreukel marathon
    almanak marsepein
    asterisk medikus
    ewenaar nominatief
    halfkroon notule
    handhaaf Philander
    hinkepink rabbedoe
    holderstebolder redekawel
    horison samoerai
    hotnotsgot seldery
    hotnotsvy stadion
    inchoatief standaard
    infinitief Subaru
    Johann swetterjoel
    kakkerlak turksvy
    karnaval uniform
    kiepersol vennoot
    koggelmander waarsku
    kokkerot wederdoper
    korhaan Wilhelm
    lanterfanter Woltemade

    1. The position of stress in some of these words is in a state of flux; in some cases stress (still) varies between speakers, and even within the same speaker. This relates especially to ewenaar, kiepersol, majesteit, samoerai, stadion and uniform.
    2. Stress on the final syllable in handhaaf and waarsku is mostly heard in coloured Afrikaans.
    3. Items consisting of more than three syllables, like akkusatief, inchoatief, infinitief and nominatief, have word-final stress, which is in accordance with the MSR, that states that primary stress is final in words ending on closed syllables (see Short -oe in monomorphemes). Note that specifically these words are used in the case of Dutch as examples of exceptions to the Three-syllable Window Principle: "Primary stress can only fall on one of the last three syllables of a monomorphemic word" – see Booij (1995), Kager (1989) and Trommelen and Zonneveld (1989). In Afrikaans, in contrast, the relevant equivalents are exceptions neither to the MSR of Afrikaans nor to the more general Three-syllable Window Principle.
    4. The surname Woltemade has recently received penultimate stress; as is the case with many proper names of Germanic origin it originally exhibited initial stress.
    5. There is a growing tendency in Afrikaans for the stress in words ending on kus (as in medikus) to shift to the final syllable, cf. also longer words like akademikus and historikus, that originally had antepenultimate stress, similar to other -i- words (see Short -ie in monomorphemes).

    • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
    • Kager, René1989A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and DutchDordrechtForis
    • Trommelen, Mieke & Zonneveld, Wim1989Klemtoon en metrische fonologieMuiderbergCoutinho
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