• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Short /i/ in monomorphemes

In Afrikaans, /i/ is regarded phonemically as a short vowel, despite some phonotactic contexts in which it is phonetically long, as is the case with /u/ and /y/. Except for /ɔ, œ, ɛ/, all short vowels occur freely in open as well as closed syllables in word-final position. When /i/ occurs in open, final syllables, penultimate stress is regular; /i/ in final closed syllables is also generally stressed. A fairly large body of words exists, however, where /i/ is stressed despite occuring in open, final syllables. In a number of cases, /i/ in penultimate position forces stress to fall on the antepenultimate syllable.

In all instances of short vowels, the following topics should be taken into account as important background information:

As an orientation with respect to all topics concerning stress placement in Afrikaans monomorphemes, the following reference list should be consulted:

(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 2017)


In the following sections, the role of /i/ in different syllable positions and circumstances is treated, firstly in a similar way to the other short vowels, /u, ɑ, ɛ, ɔ/ i.e. s in open, word-final syllables (see Short -oe in monomorphemes); following this /i/ will be treated in word-final position in a closed syllable, and lastly in penultimate position.

[+]/i/ in open, word-final syllables

As in the case with especially /u/ and /ɑ/, it becomes clear that the general penultimate stress pattern is applicable here too, irrespective of the length of the word, the quality of the vowel or the type of syllable structure. See Exceptions for more on <ie> in word-end, stressed position.

[hide extra information]

Figure 1

[click image to enlarge]

  1. Penultimate stress is dominant; of the 24 bisyllabics only chemie, ironie, regie have final stress (chemie sometimes not).
  2. Of the 66 multisyllabics, 13 have final stress; for the rest penultimate stress is the default. These 13 words are: anatomie, artillerie, energie, fantasie, harmonie, hiërargie, industrie, ironie, *jaloesie, kategorie, melodie, profesie, religie, and are all of French origin. jaloesie sometimes has penultimate stress.
  3. Stressed final /i/ sometimes is categorised as long (Wissing, D.P. 1971), and as such carries normal stress, along with the other long vowels /e, o, a, ø/(see Long vowels in monomorphemes).
  4. In derivations with -s (mainly in terms of forming adjectives), the stress of many of these exceptional words shifts back to penultimate position. Examples are anatomies, harmonies, hiërargies, ironies, kategories, melodies, profeties.
  5. Although the case here is not as compelling as with the two other short vowels mentioned above, the stress pattern is nevertheless clear and so is the insignificance of the other potential factors with regards to the assignment of stress in monosyllables, viz. quality of vowels and the type of structure (open or close) of syllables other than the final one.

[+]/i/ in closed, word-final syllables

In this position /i/ is stressed, as is the case with short /u/, more commonly when the coda is a sonorant consonant; some instances with obstruents as coda are also present. Examples are provided in the next Extra.

[hide extra information]

Figure 2

[click image to enlarge]

Figure 3

[click image to enlarge]

  1. Monomorphemes ending on obstruent codas are rather limited in number, especially in the case of -g.
  2. -p cases are also hard to find; a number of typical South African Afrikaans proper names were therefore included.
  3. -f cases, on the other hand, are relatively numerous (the list of eleven examples was extracted from 31 words).
  4. Except for words ending on /i/ + /m/, monomorphemes with sonorant codas are relatively widely available.

[+]/i/ unstressed in penultimate position

Antepenultimate stress is observed in Dutch when /i/ occurs in penultimate position, followed by a word-final syllable that is never stressed. In the Dutch topic on this matter, it is stated that /i/ in the context [-ija] (written as <ia>) "strongly disfavors stress", in which case antepenultimate stress is present. In this regard, Booij (Booij, Geert 1995) mentions <ia> (in aria) as well as <ium> (in calcium) as examples. Neijt and Zonneveld (Neijt, Anneke and Zonneveld, Wim. 1982) describe the use of antepenultimate stress as follows: "Heeft een woord een klemtoonafstotende laatste lettergreep, en bevat de voorlaatste lettergreep een -i-, dan valt in de regcl het hoofdaccent op de voor-voorlaatste lettergreep" (If a word ends in a stress-deterring syllable, and if the penultimate syllable contains -i- (i.e. /i/; written as <i>) stress is on the antepenultimate syllable.

[hide extra information]

The complete Dutch list provided by Neijt and Zonneveld (1982: 546) in this regard is:

horizon, stadion, orion, bariton, lexicon, acrostichon, idioticon, symposion, patricier, syfilis, caritas, opium, geranium, adagium, calcium, stadium, medium, jodium, kalium, compendium, alluvium, arsenicum, patrimonium, gymnasium, minimum, optimum, maximum, oratorium, testimonium, emeritus, spiritus, genius, lathyrus, tacticus, politicus, musicus, medicus, stradivarius, handicap, fresia, sepia, paria, aria, cavia, hospita, platina, patina, begonia, gloria, harmonika, grammatika, hydraulica, varia, paprika, malaria, studio, polio, eskimo, animo, deposito, incognito, agio, domino, folio, risico, indigo, mimicry, alibi, kolibrie, kariboe, habitat, olifant, horizont, facsimile, dominee, archipel, specimen, lucifer, jupiter, caries, species, rabies, requiem, specimen, coïtus.

Note that except for words ending in <ia>, <ika>, <ita> and <ium> in Afrikaans, words similar to the Dutch examples are extremely rare. The list is, however, not complete with respect to Afrikaans. At least <itis>, frequently found in Afrikaans (see lower down), is not included in this list and neither is <-i-C-i>, as in bikini, edisie, familie, posisie, subsidie. Neijt and Zonneveld treat these type of words as exceptions to their <-i-> rule. Note that such monomorphemes are all regular in Afrikaans as to their penultimate stress pattern – see details below (see also Overview of the Main Stress Rules). The same remark applies with regard to monomorphemes ending on schwa, preceeded by <-i-C>, for example aktrise, analise, blondine, dissipline, doktrine, intrige, marine, morfine, piramide, roetine, turbine, urine, vitamine. Afrikaans words ending on <ina>, <ita> and <itis> regularly exhibit penultimate instead of the expected antepenultimate stress in Neijt and Zonneveld's framework; see examples lower down. Finally, a recent development is to be observed in which the final syllable of <ikus>, namely <us>, is frequently stressed.

Booij (1995:103) handles antepenultimate stress in <-i-> word types as follows: in forms like ária and cálcium the last syllable should be marked as extrametrical. According to him, the historical background is that words like these are either Latin or formed after a Latin model; the corresponding /i/ in Latin was short, thus giving rise to a light syllable that was, in turn, to be skipped in a stress-assignment cycle progressing from the right edge to the left in a word. This explanation is problematic in the case of Afrikaans. This is clearly demonstrated by the recent development in which the final syllable of <ikus>, namely <us>, is frequently stressed, e.g. in historikus, medikus, tegnikus, The vowel in <us>, /œ/, almost always derounds to schwa, is normally stressable in extremely limited instances (see The short vowels of Afrikaans, and in terms of Booij's treatment should be regarded as extrametrical, and consequently not to be stressed as in these and many other similar cases.

[hide extra information]

Figure 4

[click image to enlarge]

  1. <ina> and <ita>: These are but a few names that all follow the penultimate stress pattern instead of the expected antepenult i.e. should Booij's explanation for Dutch should be applicable for Afrikaans too.
  2. It seems that penultimate stress is prevalent in the case of persons' names (in Column 1 and 2); seemingly new formations follow this pattern to a high degree.
  3. <itis>: Antepenultimate stress is excepted here too, but in a large number of medical terms, like the selection in Column 3, penultimate stress is found as well, also contrary to the Latin stress pattern.
  4. Interestingly <ika>, though of a similar structure to <ina> and <ita>, nevertheless follows the normal Latin antepenultimate pattern (e.g. Afrika, fisika) as also observed in other Latin-like cases, e.g. <ia> and <io>. It is unclear what the difference is between <ina> and <ita> on the one hand, and <ika> on the other .

For an elaborate treatment of antepenultimate stress where /i/ is involved, see Exceptions to the Main Stress Rules.

[+]Evidence from adopted South African proper names

Alongside some established geographic names with a Bantu origin, like Ekhuruleni, Empangeni, Ethikweni, Khayalami, Lusikisiki, Maluti, Thabazimbi, Ulundi, Umlazi, all ending on i and with penultimate stress, quite a number of less well-known names are also found, for instance those in the Extra below.

[hide extra information]

Figure 5

[click image to enlarge]

Well-known politicians' names of recent times may be added to this list, e.g. Bheki, Hani, Mboweni, Mdluli, Mulaudzi, Naledi, Nathi, Pikoli, Thandi, Thuli, Vusi, Yengeni. The importance of this data for the assumption that Afrikaans monomorphemes' stress pattern is predominantly one of penultimate position, flows from the fact that the assignment of stress position in newly adopted words may provide important ways of falsifying proposed stress rules (Neijt & Zonneveld (Neijt, Anneke and Zonneveld, Wim. 1982)). Kager (Kager, R. 1989) also mentions the importance of imported words alongside mispronunciations in this regard.

Additional support for the non-stressed status of /i/ in word-final, open syllables comes from the observation of many speakers who tend not to stress this vowel in open, final syllables in words unfamiliar to them. Consequently orgie / ɔr.'xi /orgy is often pronounced as [ 'ɔr.xi]

The evidence from adopted place and persons 'names as presented above in the case of /i/, applies to the other short vowels /u, ɛ, ɔ, ɑ// as well. See Short -oe in monomorphemes, Short ɛ in monomorphemes, Short ɔ in monomorphemes, Short -a in monomorphemes

  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Combrink, J.G.H. & De Stadler, L.G1987Afrikaanse fonologie.Macmillan
  • De Stadler, L.G1981Die klemkontoere van die simplekse selfstandige naamwoord in Afrikaans: 'n NGF-siening.Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe21285-295
  • De Stadler, L.G1991Oor die klemtoon van Afrikaanse simplekse: re Wissing.South African Journal of Linguistics941-46
  • De Villiers, M1965Aspekte van woordaksent.
  • De Villiers, M. & Ponelis, F.A1992Afrikaanse klankleer.Tafelberg
  • Kager, René1989A Metrical Theory of Stress and Destressing in English and DutchDordrechtForis
  • Le Roux, J.J1936Die uitspraak van Afrikaans.Huisgenoot2031
  • Le Roux, T.H. & Pienaar, P. de V1927Afrikaanse fonetiek.Juta
  • Lee, A.S1963Klem in Afrikaans.Thesis
  • Lubbe, H.J1993Oor die klemtoon van Afrikaanse simplekse: re Wissing én De Stadler.South African Journal of Linguistics118-17
  • Lubbe, H.J1993Die klempatrone van Afrikaans.South African Journal of Linguistics1149-59
  • Lubbe, H.J1993Klem in Afrikaans en die superswaar rym.South African Journal of Linguistics78-99
  • Lubbe, H.J1993Inleiding tot die algemene en Afrikaanse metriese fonologieReeksUOVS
  • Neijt, Anneke and Zonneveld, Wim. 1982Metrische fonologie — de representatie van klem- toon in Nederlandse monomorfematische woordenDe Nieuwe Taalgids75527-547
  • Neijt, Anneke and Zonneveld, Wim. 1982Metrische fonologie — de representatie van klem- toon in Nederlandse monomorfematische woordenDe Nieuwe Taalgids75527-547
  • Wissing, D1987Klemtoon en tweesillabige Afrikaanse simplekse: eksperiment.South African Journal of Linguistics5105-139
  • Wissing, D1989Die klempatrone van Afrikaanse en Nederlandse simplekse: 'n vergelyking.Literator1050-65
  • Wissing, D1991Is Afrikaans 'n inisiëleklemtoontaal?South African Journal of Linguistics947-57
  • Wissing, D.P1971Fonologie en morfologie van die simplekse selfstandige naamwoord in Afrikaans: 'n transformasioneel-generatiewe beskrywing.Buijten & Schipperheijn. Vrije Universiteit.Thesis
  • Wissing, D.P1971Fonologie en morfologie van die simplekse selfstandige naamwoord in Afrikaans: 'n transformasioneel-generatiewe beskrywing.Buijten & Schipperheijn. Vrije Universiteit.Thesis
  • Wissing, D.P1988Die Afrikaanse en Nederlandse verkleiningsisteme: 'n vergelyking in metries-fonologiese kader.Literator962-75
  • Wissing, D.P1988Abrakadabra: die klem van multisillabige Afrikaanse simplekse.South African Journal of Linguistics613-40
  • Wissing, D.P1989Twee- en multisillabige Afrikaanse simplekse: twee klemtoonreëls of net een?South African Journal of Linguistics7116-124
  • Wissing, Daan2017FonologieVan Schaik
This is a beta version.