• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Schwa in post-tonic syllables
quickinfo

In monomorphemic words, schwa syllables are almost always directly preceded by a stressed syllable (primary or secondary stress). This is illustrated below for the words tentamen[tɛn.'ta.mə]exam and sirene[si.'re.nə]siren:


Table 1
APU PU U
σ ˈσ ə [tɛn.ˈta.mə], [si.ˈre.nə]
ˈσ σ ə [*ˈtɛn.ta.mə], [*ˈsi.re.nə]
σ σ ˈə [*tɛn.ta.ˈmə], [*si.re.ˈnə]

readmore
[+] Counterexamples

There are few counterexamples to this pattern. A selection is provided below (see also Van der Hulst 1984:233; Van Oostendorp 2012; Kager 1989:228):

Example 1

weduwe ['ʋe.dy.ʋə] widow
oorkonde ['or.kɔn.də] deed
armoede ['ɑr.mu.də] poverty
maluwe ['ma.ly.ʋe] malva
sauriër ['sɑu.ri.jər] saurus
terriër ['tɛ.ri.jər] terrier
agrariër [aɣ.'ra.ri.jər] farmer
vegetariër [ve.ɣe.'ta.ri.jər] vegetarian
patriciër [pa.'tri.si.jər] patrician
Ariër ['a.ri.jər] Aryan

Some placenames and nationalities are counterexamples as well:

Example 2

Manchester [ˈman.tʃes.tər] Manchester
Nijmegen ['nɛi.me.ɣən] Nijmegen
Betywe ['be.ty.ʋə] Betywe
Australië, (-r) [ɑu.'stra.li.jə(r)] Australian
Brazilië, (r) [bra.'zi.li.jə(r)] Brazilian
Syrië, (-r) ['si.ri.jə(r)] Syrian
Georgië, (-r) [ɣe.'jɔr.ɣi.jə(r)] Georgian

Further counterexamples can be found word-internally for secondary stress, yet they are few in number. Since Dutch prosodic words usually have secondary stress on the first syllable of a word (if they are long enough), only words with at least four syllables, with the main stress on the fourth syllable from the left and a schwa in the third syllable, are potentially exceptional, as this schwa would not be preceded by stress. We came across two counterexamples:

Example 3

Guatemala [gu.ʋa.tə.'ma.la] Guatemala
chrysoberyl [xri.zo.bə.'ril] chrysoberyl
[+] Debate

Under the assumption that disyllabic trochees are the default feet in Dutch, the preference for schwa to occur in an immediate post-tonic position can be expressed by stating that schwa appears in the weak position of a foot (as noted by Van der Hulst 1984:233; see also Booij 1995; Van Oostendorp 1995,1997,2000,2012).

References:
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Hulst, Harry van der1984Syllable structure and stress in DutchDordrechtForis
  • Hulst, Harry van der1984Syllable structure and stress in DutchDordrechtForis
  • Kager, René1989A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and DutchDordrechtForis
  • Oostendorp, Marc van1995Vowel Quality and Phonological ProjectionTilburg UniversityThesis
  • Oostendorp, Marc van1997Lexicale variatie in de optimaliteitstheorieNederlandse Taalkunde199713-145
  • Oostendorp, Marc van2000Phonological ProjectionNiemeyer
  • Oostendorp, Marc van2012Quantity and the Three-Syllable Window in Dutch word stressLanguage and Linguistics Compass6.6343-358
  • Oostendorp, Marc van2012Quantity and the Three-Syllable Window in Dutch word stressLanguage and Linguistics Compass6.6343-358
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • 1.3. Inflection
    [67%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1 Characterization and classification
  • Introduction
    [66%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 14 Main-clause external elements
  • 14.1. Pragmatic markers
    [65%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 14 Main-clause external elements
  • 5.1.2.4. Reported speech
    [65%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 5 Projection of verb phrases IIIb:Argument and complementive clauses > 5.1. Finite argument clauses > 5.1.2. Direct object clauses
  • 14.2. Left dislocation
    [65%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 14 Main-clause external elements
Show more ▼
cite
print