Join our Linguistics Seminar Series with a talk featuring Harry van der Hulst, a Professor from UConn, with research focus in phonology.
Talk Title: Prolegomena to a theory of word accent
Based on much earlier work, I lay out a unified theory of word prominence which covers both languages in which the location of word accent is mainly phonologically-driven as well as languages in which morphological structure plays a decisive role. In my talk, I will first focus on phonologically-driven accent and then turn to the matter of morphologically-driven accent. My approach to phonologically-driven accent separates the location of (primary) word accent from rhythmic structure. In my previous work on word prominence (going back to van der Hulst 1984), I have rejected the standard metrical model and replaced it by an approach that represents rhythm as ‘secondary’, i.e., as being assigned after word accents have been determined (at the lexical level). Rhythm arises at a post-grammatical, prosodic level, as part of phonetic implementation. In this talk, I will not discuss the assignment of rhythm in detail (but see van der Hulst 2014 for an extensive account) and focus instead on how I account for the diversity of word phonologically-driven accent systems. It will be important to distinguish between the notion word accent and the notion syllabic accent and moraic accent. As in my previous work, I separate the issue of locating accent from specifying its phonetic realization, taking the term ‘stress’ to refer to the realization of accent in so-called stress-accent languages, like English and Dutch. This will lead me to a digression by discussing tonal realizations of accent in so-called pitch-accent languages. I then turn to languages in which morphological structure plays a decisive role in the locating word accent. I will illustrate this role with some interesting stress patterns of synthetic and regular compounds in Dutch. My unified approach incorporates the idea that there are different hierarchical organizations at the word level. I will assume that morphologically-driven accent refers to a ‘metrically-interpreted morphological structure, while phonologically-driven accent refers to a restructuring of this level, due to the behavior of so-called cohering affixes, which I call the phonotactic level. After all is said and done, a phonetic-prosodic structure emerges which accounts for all allophonic processes, including rhythm.