A Metrical Theory of Stress Rules

B. Hayes, 1980

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This thesis tries to characterize the class of unmarked stress rules.  The approach I have taken is metrical: stress is represented as a matter of relative prominence, using the tree notation proposed by Mark Liberman.  I have also assumed two further developments of Liberman’s theory.  The first is the introduction of a separate level of metrical feet, allowing us to dispense with the feature [+stress].  The second is a theory of syllable internal structure, which makes it possible to represent distinctions of prominence among syllables geometrically, as the differences between branching and non-branching nodes.  Using these notions, I claim that an unmarked stress rule must construct trees that are drawn from a highly restricted inventory of possible tree geometries, defined by constraints on whether or not the various nodes of the tree may branch.  I further claim that in the great majority of cases, the labeling of the trees to determine the relative prominence of their nodes is carried out by one of two unmarked labeling conventions.

Some further ideas presented in this thesis are the following: (a) The notion of dominant and recessive nodes is introduced, and shown to simplify the formulation of the unmarked tree construction and labeling rules.  (b) A constrained theory of extrametricality is developed, which provides a better account for cases which would otherwise require an expanded theory of unmarked tree geometry.  (c) A precise universal formulation of Stray Syllable Adjunction is proposed and motivated empirically.

To support the theory, the stress systems of Aklan, Tiberian Hebrew, Yidiny, and English are analyzed in some detail.  Numerous other languages are discussed briefly to illustrate how the rules predicted as unmarked by the theory are in fact frequentyl attested.

Thesis Supervisor:         Morris Halle

Title:                             Ferrari P. Ward Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics


Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Background

            1          Introduction                                                                                          6

            2          Liberman and Prince’s Theory                                                  6

            3          Syllables and feet                                                                                  14

            4          The theory of syllable weight                                                                 24

            5          Outline and miscellanea                                                             31

Footnotes                                                                                                                     35

Chapter 2         Stress in Aklan

            1          Preliminaries                                                                                         36

            2          Analysis                                                                                                37

            3          Theoretical consequences                                                                     56

Footnotes                                                                                                                     65

Chapter 3         Tree Geometry

            1          Tree geometry as the central part of metrical theory                               66

            2          The problem of syllable quantity                                                            69

            3          A theory of tree geometry                                                                     78

            4          Exemplification                                                                         85

                        4.1       Binary quantity insensitive trees                                     86

                        4.2       Unbounded quantity insensitive trees                                         95

                        4.3       Unbounded quantity sensitive trees                                            96

                        4.4       Binary quantity sensitive trees                                        99

                        4.5       Trees in which dominant nodes must branch                              105

            5          Feet with extra final nodes                                                                     110

            6          Other kinds of extrametricality                                                   129

            7          Stress in Tiberian Hebrew                                                                     134

            8          Conclusion                                                                                           168

Footnotes                                                                                                                     170

Chapter 4         Labeling Rules

            1          Common labeling conventions                                                   174

            2          Rarer labeling rules                                                                               187

            3          Stress in Yidiny                                                                         196

            4          Conclusion                                                                                           226

Footnotes                                                                                                                     228

Chapter 5         Where does English fit in?

            1          Introductory                                                                                         229

            2          Extrametricality rules for English                                                            236

            3          Stress retraction                                                                                    246

            4          The phonological cycle                                                              257

            5          Two destressing rules                                                                            271

            6          Non-maximal foot construction                                                 280

            7          Further adjectival suffixes                                                                      283

            8          Cases of the type Winnepesaukee                                                         287

            9          A constraint on destressing rules                                                            303

            10        Prefix-stem words and the stress cycle                                      304

            11        Ternary feet across VV and the i-y rule                                     318

            12        Conclusion                                                                                           330

Footnotes                                                                                                                     331