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Iambic reversal
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Iambic reversal is a leftward shift of stress in attributive position in comparison to a supposed default realization in predicative position and isolation. The mechanism of the shift is comparable to that of stress retraction. Yet unlike stress retraction, it is not obligatory but optional (Gussenhoven 1984, Kager and Visch 1988, Visch 1989, Booij 1995); experimental work by Gussenhoven (1983,1984) indicates that iambic reversal can be used as a rhetorical device. It usually affects prosodic words of three or more syllables, as these have a secondary stress to the left of the primary stress. The location for primary stress in words undergoing iambic reversal is the first stressable syllable in the word (that is, the leftmost syllable with secondary stress in the isolated form).

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Monomorphemic disyllabic words are excluded from iambic reversal, as they do not contain a secondary stress to the left of the primary stress (adjacent stresses in monomorphemic words are prohibited in Dutch). In some exceptional cases, however, disyllabic monomorphemic adjectives can be subject to the shift as well, even if they do not contain a secondary stress. Iambic reversal occurs in the following groups of words (examples partially from Gussenhoven 1984, Booij 1995):

Word groups which are subject to iambic reversal are listed in (1 - 3); iambic reversal is impossible in (4):

  1. Regularly: attributively used adjectives / place names
  2. Regularly: nouns before appositions
  3. A few exceptional cases: some disyllabic monomorphemic adjectives
  4. Excluded: most disyllabic monomorphemic adjectives

Example 1

Attributively used adjectives / place names
cruciaal [ˌkry.si.ˈal] een cruciaal geval [ˈkry.si.ˌal.xə.ˈvɑl] a special case
respectabel [ˌrɛs.pɛk.ˈta.bəl] een respectabele man [ˈrɛs.pɛk.ˌta.bə.lə.ˈmɑn] a respectable man
katholiek [ˌkɑ.to.ˈlik] een katholieke school [ˈkɑ.to.ˌli.kə.ˈsxol] a catholic school
Amsterdam [ˌɑm.stɛr.ˈdɑm] het Amsterdamse bos [ˈɑm.stɛr.ˌdɑm.sə.ˈbɔs] the Amsterdam forest
Zevenhuizen [ˌze.vən.ˈhœy.zən] de Zevenhuizense politie [ˈze.vən.ˌhœy.zən.sə.po.ˈli.(t)si] the Zevenhuizen police
Winterswijk [ˌʋɪn.tərs.ˈʋɛik] de Winterswijkse boerderijen [ˈʋɪn.tərs.ˌʋɛik.sə.ˌbur.də.ˈrɛi.ən] the Winterswijk farms
Example 2

Nouns before appositions
Amsterdam [ˌɑm.stɛr.ˈdɑm] Amsterdam Centraal [ˈɑm.stɛr.dɑm.sɛn.ˈtral]
kardinaal [ˌkɑr.di.ˈnal] kardinaal Simonis [ˈkɑr.di.ˌnal.si.ˈmo.nɪs]
admiraal [ˌɑd.mi.ˈral] admiraal de Ruyter [ˈɑd.mi.ˌral.də.ˈrœy.tər]
Example 3

Disyllabic monomorphemic adjectives (exceptional cases with possible iambic reversal)
centraal [sɛn.ˈtral] centraal station [ˈsɛn.tral.stas.ˈjɔn] central station
binair [bi.ˈnɛːr] binair kenmerk [ˈbi.nɛːr.ˈkɛn.mɛrk] binary feature
finaal [fi.ˈnal] finaal accent [ˈfi.nal.ɑk.ˈsɛnt] final accent
Example 4

Disyllabic monomorphemic adjectives (regular cases without iambic reversal)
fantastisch [fɑn.ˈtɑs.tis] fantastisch gevoel [*ˈfɑn.tɑs.tis.xə.ˈvul] fantastic feeling
banaal [ba.ˈnal] banaal grapje [*ˈba.nal.ˈxrɑp.jə] trivial joke
References:
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1983Stress shifts as a rhetorical deviceLinguistics21603-619
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1984On the grammar and semantics of sentence accentsDordrechtForis
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1984On the grammar and semantics of sentence accentsDordrechtForis
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos1984On the grammar and semantics of sentence accentsDordrechtForis
  • Kager, Rene & Visch, Ellis1988Metrical constituency and rhythmic adjustmentPhonology521-71
  • Visch, Ellis1989The rhythm rule in English and DutchUtrecht UniversityThesis
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