• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Primary stress in monomorphemes ending on Type-I schwa

Prefinal stress placement is dominant in monomorphemes with a word final schwa as nucleus. We can distinguish between two types: Type I monomorphemes consisting of a single final /ə/ or a final syllable containing a schwa and a final sonorant consonant ( /n/; /m/; /l/; /r/; /ŋ/) as word-final coda; Type II monomorphemes are characterised by a word-final schwa + an obstruent consonant ( /k/; /x/; /s/) as coda (viz. -lik, -ig and -nis). In both instances, syllable position is more important for stress assignment than other factors such as syllable structure or vowel quality and quantity. Type-II is dealt with in a separate topic (Primary stress in monomorphemes ending on Type-II schwa).

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

    (De Stadler 1981; Combrink and De Stadler 1987; De Stadler 1991; De Villiers 1965; De Villiers and Ponelis 1992; Lee 1963; Le Roux 1936; Le Roux and Pienaar 1927; Lubbe 1993; Wissing 1971; Wissing 1987; Wissing 1988; Wissing 1989; Wissing 1991; Wissing 2017)


    In Afrikaans, schwa has special status as a full phonemic vowel, unlike in Dutch. This necessitates a separate treatment of this vowel in the description of the stress patterns of monomorphemic words. Prefinal stressed syllables are the default stress pattern in both bisyllabic and multisyllabic words. See examples in the Extras to follow.

    The aim of this topic is the detection of the factors of importance for the description of the main stress patterns of Afrikaans monomorphemic words. Exceptions and subclasses will only briefly be mentioned. Furthermore, while very similar patterns are observed across all Type-I words, we concentrate here on cases ending on word-final schwa without coda, thus ( /-ə/), as representative of the whole type. A smaller number of examples of multisyllabic words other than those with word-final /-ə/ is presented for the purposes of substantiating the principle of an across-the-board prefinal syllable stress pattern in Afrikaans words of this type.

    Type-1 syllable-final schwa never receives stress so that penultimate stress is always the default. Consequently, the focus here is on multisyllabic monomorphemes.

    In the following Extra, a number of Afrikaans bisyllabic monomorphemes with word-final /-ə/ is presented.

    Table 1: Bisyllabic monomorphemes with word-final schwa
    Examples a-h Examples j-w
    aarde julle
    alle klere
    baie môre
    beste rede
    binne skande
    buite skrede
    eerste stonde
    einde strofe
    fase tipe
    helfte waarde
    hulle wyse

    1. These few examples are representative of a larger body of similar bisyllabic words.
    2. Schwa is not stressable in Type-1 word-final position and stress is always on the prefinal syllable (penultimate in bisyllabic words).

    In the next Extra, words consisting of three syllables each are given, all with final /-ə/.

    Table 2: Word-final schwa in three syllable words
    affêre deviese melasse prelude
    amebe ekstase metode prognose
    arkade ellende mikrobe psigose
    artikel episode mirakel sekonde
    ballade estrade narkose sekunde
    barakke fasade neurose sillabe
    barrage finesse nomade tevrede
    benede genade okside tirade
    berede hipnose oorkonde trombose
    beskonke kaskade oorlede vanielje
    bravade katode pagode verlede
    brigade kollege partikel versonke
    collage legende petalje verstoke
    dekade medalje pommade voldonge

    1. Penultimate syllables have main stress, except for oorkonde which has stress on the antepenult.
    2. In a few instances, this syllable is closed beskonke, legende, medalje, oorkonde, petalje, sekonde, sekunde, vanielje, versonke and voldonge.
    3. Vowel quality is unrestricted – short and long vowels (monophthongal and diphthongal) all are found.
    4. Consequently, position in the word is sole deciding factor in stress placement.

    In the subsequent Extra, words containing four and five syllables are given. The same tendency as formulated in Note 4 above is evident here: penultimate stress is dominant.

    Table 3: Four and five syllable words with final schwa and penultimate stress
    Four syllables Four syllables Four syllables Five syllables
    akkolade esplanade marmelade adenoïde
    alikreukel etalage maskerade jeremiade
    amoreuse eufemisme menopouse tuberkulose
    analise hipotese offerande
    anekdote interesse olimpiade
    antipode invalide parafrase
    antitese katastrofe periode
    arikreukel kamerade piramide
    asteroïde kaskenade serenade
    camouflage kategese simbiose
    diagnose kolonnade sinagoge
    eksegese limonade sjampanje
    elektrode marinade sjokolade

    1. Like in the case of three-syllable words above, here too penultimate syllables have main stress, except for offerhande, which has "normal" compound stress on the first member offer /'ɔ.fər/ offer.
    2. Most of these prefinal syllables are open.
    3. The nuclei of these syllables represent most of the Afrikaans vowels, short (including schwa) and long. Neither these parameters nor vowel quality (roundedness, vowel height or frontness/backness) play any significant role.

    • 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 Linguistics = Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Taalkunde941-46,
    • De Villiers, M1965Aspekte van woordaksent.
    • De Villiers, M. & Ponelis, F.A1992Afrikaanse klankleer.Tafelberg
    • 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 Linguistics = Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Taalkunde118-17,
    • Wissing, D1987Klemtoon en tweesillabige Afrikaanse simplekse: eksperiment.South African Journal of Linguistics = Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Taalkunde5105-139,
    • Wissing, D1989Die klempatrone van Afrikaanse en Nederlandse simplekse: 'n vergelyking.Literator1050-65,
    • Wissing, D1991Is Afrikaans 'n inisiëleklemtoontaal?South African Journal of Linguistics = Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Taalkunde947-57,
    • Wissing, D.P1971Fonologie en morfologie van die simplekse selfstandige naamwoord in Afrikaans: 'n transformasioneel-generatiewe beskrywing.Thesis
    • Wissing, D.P1988Die Afrikaanse en Nederlandse verkleiningsisteme: 'n vergelyking in metries-fonologiese kader.Literator962-75,
    • Wissing, Daan2017FonologieVan Schaik
    This is a beta version.