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Primary stress in simplex words

The most prominent syllable in a lexical word receives primary stress. Synchronically, the placement of primary stress in Dutch is often assumed to correlate with syllable structure (it is commonly considered to be quantity-sensitive) as well as with segmental structure (Segmental restrictions on stress placement). Additionally, Dutch is traditionally regarded as a language that obeys the Three-Syllable Window; that is, at least in a large majority of cases, the placement of primary stress in monomorphemic words is restricted to one of the last three syllables of a word; in derived words, stress placement can be influenced by certain properties of suffixes and / or prefixes (Stress in complex words). Phonetically, primary stress in Dutch correlates with

  • pitch movements,
  • intensity,
  • vowel duration, and
  • vowel quality.


The above-mentioned regularities in stress placement are not without exceptions: there are various cases where the position of primary stress does not follow from quantity and / or segmental structure (Lexical and unpredictable stress). Since the native vocabulary usually does not contain longer words, many of the attested stress patterns can be derived from loanwords only; the stress placement in loanwords often resembles that of the source languages (Diachronic aspects of Dutch stress). In monomorphemic words, it is usually the right-most stressable syllable that carries primary stress.