Patterns of accentual lengthening in English four-syllable words

Snezhina Dimitrova, Alice Turk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Previous work on English disyllabic and trisyllabic words cannot distinguish two types of views on accentual lengthening: (1) phrasal accent affects a single, multisyllabic domain (the entire word), vs. (2) phrasal accent affects multiple, potentially separate, domains (e.g., the primary stressed syllable and the final syllable). In the present paper, we distinguish these views by examining the effect of phrasal accent on the durational patterns of English four-syllable words. We studied words of three types, with different positions of primary and secondary lexical stress: pattern 1000 (e.g. ˈpresidency), pattern 2010 (e.g. ˌdemoˈcratic), and pattern 1020 (e.g. ˈsuffoˌ cating). Our results show that accent-related lengthening can affect multiple, potentially distinct, sites: the primary-stressed syllable, the secondary-stressed syllable rhyme (if the word has secondary stress), the onset of the word-initial syllable, and the final syllable. In addition, lengthening can “spill over” from a primary-stressed syllable onto a following unstressed syllable. Patterns of accent-related lengthening on onsets vs. rhymes are qualitatively different for stressed vs. word-edge sites, suggesting separate lengthening mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-418
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Issue number3
Early online date20 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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