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Long vowels in monomorphemes

The Afrikaans long vowels /a, o, e, ø/ are strong attractors of stress, especially in word-final position in both closed and open syllables. Open syllables of this type are mostly stressed.

The following articles 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 Extra, lists of relevant examples of monomorphemes are provided.

Here an overview of long vowels with all possible types of codas is provided.

[+] All types of coda

The relevant coda appears in the first column. The four blocks contain examples of each of the four long vowels as the nucleus of the final syllable.

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

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  1. Voiced obstruents are phonetically devoiced in coda position, thus /d/ > [t].
  2. Empty cells indicate the absence of monomorphemes of the specific type.
  3. Here words with the pseudo-prefixes be-, ge-, ver- are taken to be monomorphemes.
  4. Preference for word-final stress in Afrikaans is clear from the historical shifting, in the case of many words, of stress towards final position, notably in hospitaal, handhaaf, vennoot (with long vowels), but also in cases such as infinitief and marathon (with short vowels in final, closed syllables). The same tendency is to be observed in many polysyllabic place names that were originally compounds, such as Potchefstroom, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg. (Stress shifts in place names).
  5. Monomorphemes ending on sonorant codas, /n, m, l, r/, are much more frequent than others. Relevant monomorphemes with /t/ as the coda are also particularly frequent .

[+] Sonorant codas: /m, n, l, r/
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Figure 3

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  1. In the words hospitaal, kandelaar original stress on the first syllable is currently shifting towards word-final position; in accordance with a general tendency that characterises Afrikaans (see Stress shift towards word-final position.
  2. sprinkaan (with variable initial syllable stress too) is a contracted word, derivable from the compound spring+haan.
  3. Other words in which word-final syllables are generally not stressed, but rather the initial syllable, are: altaar, kandelaar, liggaam, ongeveer, ooievaar, oordeel, wanneer. These are among the few exceptions to the rather robust rule, some of them having diachronic explanations.

[+] /t/ as coda
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Figure 4

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  1. While some of these words are true monomorphemes,such as agaat, akkuraat, brokaat, granaat, kiaat, senaat, many of them may be associated with similar forms. e.g. burokraat with burokrasie, duplikaat with dupliseer or telepaat with telepatie. We regard them here as monomorphemic however, . supported by, among other things, the fact that all of these words are treated as separate lemmas in dictionaries such as the HAT. For a further motivation, see Overview of Main Stress Rules.

[+] Long vowels in final, open syllables

Polysyllabic monomorphemes ending on open syllables with long vowels as nuclei are scarce. The list contained in the following Extra represents more or less all existing Afrikaans cases, bar proper names, ending in the four long vowels /e, a, o, ø/.

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Figure 5

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  1. Only words ending on long /e/ (Row 1A) are relatively common. Within this group, however, there are some exceptions (Row 1B) to the final stress rule. These exceptions all display initial stress.
  2. There are a number of Afrikaans surnames with stressed /e/ in word-final open stressed position , e.g. Coetzee, Gilliomee, Maree, Matthee, as well as some spelled with <-é>, like Kotzé, Maré, Naudé.
  3. The surname (from Dutch), (Van) Breda, also found in the South African place name Bredasdorp, has a long <a> /a/ in word-final position, and could be added to the short list A2.
  4. Less familiar words of French origin ending on /o/ are written with <eau>: chateau, nouveau.
  5. An important difference between Dutch and Afrikaans is with respect to words ending on <a> and <o>. Except for the few examples cited in the Extra above (A2 and A3), in a large number of Afrikaans words these letters represent short vowels, not long ones as in Dutch. For examples and discussion, see The short vowels of Afrikaans, and, specifically Short -a in monomorphemes in the case of <a>, and Short -oe in monomorphemes for <o>.

[+] Unstressed final syllables with long vowels as nuclei

The monomorphemes adelaar /'a.də.lar/eagle and algemeen /'ɑl.xə.men/general have stress on the first syllable instead of on the expected final closed syllable, which has a long vowel as nucleus. adelaar might arguably constitute a backformation in the sense of resembling the derivation adel plus -aar. In Afrikaans, the derivational morpheme -aar normally does not bear stress (cf. skakelaar /'ska.kə.lar/switch, derived from skakel). algemeen might, diachronically, be seen as a compound, viz. al all plus gemeen common, with normal compound stress on the initial component (cf. katstert /'kat.stɛrt/cat tail).

[+] Pseudo-derivations with long vowels as a component

While long vowels prefer word-final position in monomorphemes, this does not, of course, apply to words with pseudo-suffixes such as -(l)ig, -lik, -nis, -sel, -el, -er, -en, -em. Relevant examples of stressed long vowels in penultimate position are aaklig, heerlik, deernis, aarsel, debakel, blaker, Oktober, skarlaken, bodem . In a separate topic, expansive lists of relevant examples are provided in Primary stress in monomorphemes ending on Type-II schwa.

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.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
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