I need to give the stress degrees for each component in "compressed air powered fence post driver". If I want to argue that "compressed air powered fence post driver" is a compound, what are the stress degrees for each component?

Is it a compound, and can it be analyzed in two parts, like "compressed air powered" and "fence post driver"? As in Plag's binary structure?

I would like to prove with stress degrees that it is a compound. Even if it is not a compound at the end, I'd still like to know the stress degrees. Should there be only one primary stress in the whole phrase? Where and why? What about secondary stress and unstressed elements?

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


At first sight, an analysis as a (binary composed) compound seems to be possible:
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You could start arguing about the precise labels; for reason of simplicity I just assumed that the suffix "-ed" makes words an adjective.

Concerning stress, I would say (I use ˈ for primary and ˌ for secondary stress, the rest is unstressed):

  • for the first part: compressed ˈair ˌpowered
  • for the second part: ˈfence post ˌdriver
  • for the combination: compressed ˌair powered ˈfence post driver

Since primary stress is put on the second word group when combining the two parts, this would be an argument for me for the complex not to be analysed as a compound:
In compound nouns, stress would usually be on the first part: CAN opener, FOOTball, BUS stop, MATH teacher, ...
Since this is not the case here, I think that "compressed air powered" behaves just like an adjective to the noun:
green SOCKS, scrambled EGGS, out-dated PHONE, powered TOY CAR, ...

Judging from stress, and from the typical adjective ending "-ed", I think the word complex as a whole should be analysed as a simple adj + noun combination, not as a compound. But of course, the individual parts (compressed air powered and fence post driver) can certainly be regarded as compounds.
If you like trees:
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