Remembering a Czech song I once learnt I remembered a short Czech crash course I had and the teacher who said:
In Czech, stress is always on the first syllable.
This got me thinking and I remembered Russian, also a slavic language, which is well known for its unpredictable stress pattern and where stress could appear anywhere in a word (to the best of my knowledge). And then I remembered something else, looked it up, and yes, Wikipedia tells me that in Polish, stress is typically on the penultimate syllable.
These languages are all related to each other, i.e. stem from a common ancestor, yet seem to have distinctly different stress patterns.
By contrast, French typically stresses a words final syllable, Italian usually the penultimate although the final, third-last and fourth-last syllable may be stressed and Spanish seems to follow the same rule as Italian (again the latter according to Wikipedia). This all seems to indicate that their common ancestor (Latin) had stress towards the end of a word. However, the connection is based on the assumption that stress evolves similarly to phonology, i.e. small changes are fine but significant differences would need to be explained.
Is it generally accepted that stress co-evolves with words or are the romance languages more the exception than the rule?
If the answer to the first question is yes, how is the seemingly tremendous divergence of the slavic languages explained?
: Since there have been a few questions on what I mean by co-evolution of words and stress, here is my rationale:
Words can be thought to evolve, e.g. a common precursor *ph₂tḗr evolved into Latin pater, Sanskrit पितृ (pitṛ) and Germanic *fadēr; the first further evolved into French père and Spanish/Italian padre while the last further evolved into German Vater, English father, Icelandic faðir and others. For a series of phonologically related words, the evolution is typically similar, as with ÜIE *p- that evolved into Germanic *f-. I can imagine stress following a similar set of evolutionary rules, e.g. to invent an example the stress of a two-syllable word ending in -er moving from the second to the first syllable. Co-evolution would assume that the stress evolution was influenced by a phonological evolution (e.g. the final -er syllable being reduced to shwa) and vice-versa in some way.