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Primary stress on monomorphemic words in Afrikaans

Primary stress placement on Afrikaans monomorphemes depends on the following factors:

  1. Type of nucleus
  2. Position of syllable in the word
  3. Structure of syllable
  4. Origin of words.

The following articles should be taken into account as important background information:

  • Concerning the general stress pattern of Afrikaans monomorphemes: Overview of main stress
  • Concerning the criteria for classifying words as monomorphemes: Background to primary stress of Afrikaans monomorphemes
  • The following additional articles should also be taken into account as important background information:

    (De Stadler, L.G. 1981); (Combrink, J.G.H.; De Stadler, L.G. 1987); (De Stadler, L.G. 1991); (De Villiers, M. 1965); (De Villiers, M.; Ponelis, F.A. 1992); (Lee, A.S. 1963); (Le Roux, J.J. 1936); (Le Roux, T.H.; Pienaar, P. de V. 1927); (Lubbe, H.J. 1993); (Lubbe, H.J. 1993); (Lubbe, H.J. 1993); (Lubbe, H.J. 1993); (Wissing, D.P. 1971); (Wissing, D. 1987); (Wissing, D.P. 1988); (Wissing, D.P. 1988); (Wissing, D. 1989); (Wissing, D.P. 1989); (Wissing, D. 1991); (Wissing, D. 2014)


    Of the factors mentioned in the Quick Info above, position (2) tends to be the most important. Taking this into account, the following may be formulated as the main stress rule for Afrikaans monomorphemes:

    Primary stress lies on 1) the penultimate syllable of monomorphemic words ending on an unstressed syllable, or 2) on the antepenultimate syllable when followed by two unstressed syllables, except 3) when other factors dictate word-final stress.


    1. albaster /ɑl.'bɑs.tər/marble
    2. duidelik /'dœy.də.lək/clear
    3. generaal /xə.nə.'ral/general

    In the case of 1) the last syllable is not stressable due to the presence of weak schwa /ə/; in 2) both final syllables are of this kind, and in 3) the final syllable contains a long vowel that is strong enough to attract primary stress.

    For more examples, see The short vowels of Afrikaans, and Long vowels in monomorphemes.

    Three types of vowel segments are distinguished in Afrikaans phonology : diphthongs, long vowels and short vowels. (Overview of Afrikaans Vowels). Diphthongs and long vowels are strong attractors of stress; short vowels behave variably in this regard, depending on their position in a word and the subtype to which they belong.

    Note that this classification differs from that of Dutch, which normally distinguishes between Class-A and Class-B vowels ((Booij, Geert 1995); Segment inventory; The Dutch vowel inventory and references in there).

    In Afrikaans, /a, o, e, ø/ are considered to be long (Long vowels in monomorphemes), while the rest of the monophthongs are short i.e. /ɛ, ɔ, ɑ, œ, ə, i, u, y/ (The short vowels of Afrikaans). All diphthongs in Afrikaans are long. With respect to stress-assignment rules, it is useful to distinguish between the following subgroups of short vowels :

    1. /i, u, y/ are phonetically short but, in reaction to stress, often behave in some respects as if they were long: they are sometimes stressed in word-final, open syllables, mostly in words of Classical origin.
    2. /ɑ, ə, ɛ, ɔ, œ/are phonetically short.
    3. /ə, ɑ/ occur freely in all positions, in all types of words, and when in word-final, open syllables, are always unstressed.
    4. /ɛ, ɔ/ behave in a similar fashion to 1.3., except that in word-final, open syllables they are restricted to the names of places and persons adopted from indigenous South African languages.
    5. /œ/ occurs freely in word-medial positions, in open as well as closed syllables, though never in word-final position, and therefore does not play any role in primary stress assignment.

    For details, consult the following:

    • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
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