• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Saterfrisian
  • Afrikaans
Show all

The Main Stress Rule (MSR) for Afrikaans has a number of exceptions to it. According to MSR:

Primary stress lies on 1) the penultimate syllable of monomorphemic words ending on an unstressable syllable, or 2) on the antepenultimate syllable when followed by more than one unstressable syllable, except 3) when other factors dictate final stress.

A possible rephrasing of this rule is: Primary stress lies on the final syllable of a monomorpheme, unless such syllable is unstressable, when penultimate or antepenultimate stress is required.

See Primary stress in monomorphemes ending on Type-I schwa and Primary stress in monomorphemes ending on Type-II schwa for the notion unstressable.

Exceptions to the MSR in words ending on short vowels are listed in the specific topics: Short ie in monomorphemes, Short oe in monomorphemes, Short Ɛ in monomorphemes, Short ɔ in monomorphemes. This subcategory contains by far the most exceptions to the MSR.


The rest of the exceptions to the MSR can be categorised in terms of a number of subclasses. These are:

  1. Pseudo-compounds, that resemble normal compounds, and of which the constituents frequently resemble existing words, but which nevertheless cannot be decomposed into these corresponding words.
  2. Proper names
  3. Unique lexical exceptions

In the subsequent sections, these are treated separately, with the most representative examples listed. As mentioned above, exceptions in words ending on short vowels are treated elsewhere: Short oe in monomorphemes.

[+]1. Pseudo-compounds

This type of monomorpheme may be decomposed, with each individual member resembling an existing Afrikaans word, such as seekoei hippopatamus; see sea; koei cow, which is neither a cow nor an animal that lives in the sea.

Other examples of this kind are: aalwyn; aambei; aanstons; aarbei; alikreukel; asfalt; biskop; eiland; eekhoring; eland; hertog; kaalgaar; kinkhoes; koevoet; ooievaar; oorbietjie; piekniek; maarskalk; skeurbuik; tampan.

[+]2. Proper names

Names and surnames of Germanic origin may be categorised as pseudo-compounds, thus having stress on the first member. A few first names of this type are Albert, Bernard, Ekhard, Ferdinand, Gerhard, Herman, Leopold, Nicolas, Rudolf and Siegfried, Thomas all with initial stress.

The same applies to surnames: Bergmann; Hartmann; Hoffman; Niemand; Schoeman; Scholtemeyer; Schubert; Watermeyer, are a few examples.

Place names that may be categorised as pseudo-compounds also have initial stress, but in many cases, after having lost the original meaning as compounds, stress tended to shift to the last member. Place names like these are those ending on burg, dal, dorp, rand and vlei. As an example, a place like Ventersdorp was originally founded by somebody with the surname Venter. Nowadays, this person is not known any more in that town, so that Ventersdorp is treated as monomorpheme, with, consequently, stress shift to dorp. See Stress shifts in place names for a detailed treatment.

[+]3. Unique exceptions

A small number of Afrikaans monomorphemes exists that does not fall under one of the preceding categories. These lexical exceptionsare mainly three or more syllables in length. Typical examples are alfabet, alkohol, altaar and karnaval. Note, however, that in three of these cases recent stress shift towards the end of the word has taken place (see Stress shift towards word-final position).

    printreport errorcite