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Secondary stress in trisyllabic words

Trisyllabic words may or may not have a secondary stress, depending on the location of the primary stress. If the latter is on the final or antepenultimate syllable, such words do have a secondary stress. If primary stress is on the penultimate syllable, secondary stress is impossible, since it would result in a violation of the Alternating Stress Principle, which prohibits two adjacent stressed syllables.


Trisyllabic words with final primary stress have secondary stress on the initial syllable. Examples are given in (1):

Final primary stress: secondary stress on the first syllable
kontinu [ˌkon.ti.ˈny] continuous
taboeret [ˌtab.bu.ˈrɛt] taboret
defilee [ˌde:.fi.'le:] parade

If such words have antepenultimate primary stress, secondary stress is on the final syllable. Examples are given in (2):

Antepenultimate primary stress: secondary stress on the final syllable
aloëe [ˈa:.lo:.ˌwe:] aloe
platina [ˈpla:.ti.ˌna] platinum
ratio [ˈra:.tsi.ˌjo:] ratio
podagra [ˈpo:.daɡ.ˌɡra] podagra

With penultimate primary stress, trisyllabic words cannot have secondary stress, due to the fact that this would be in conflict with the Alternating Stress Principle. Examples are given in (3):

Penultimate primary stress: secondary stress not possible
aginda [aɡ.'ɡɪn.da] [*ˌaɡ.'ɡɪn.da] [*aɡ.'ɡɪn.ˌda] agenda
aroma [ar.ˈro:.ma] [*ˌar.ˈro:.ma] [*ar.ˈro:.ˌma] aroma
pyama [pi.'ja:.ma] [*ˌpi.'ja:.ma] [*pi.'ja:.ˌma] pyjamas
transistor [trã.'sɪs.tɔr] [*ˌtrã.'sɪs.tɔr] [*trã.'sɪs.ˌtɔr] transistor
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