In languages whose syllables are approximately equal in length, how is stress typically indicated?

Stress in English is typically indicated by any or all of the following: length, loudness, an pitch.

I assume that, in the kind of language in question, loudness and/or pitch would indicate stress. Is there are preference, or do loudness & pitch for stress co-vary in the languages in question?

  • Stress can be indicated by segment length even where segment length is not phonemic (leaving aside the situation of syllables being of equal length). Aug 15 '12 at 6:22
  • Thanks! Now how is stress typically indicated in languages whose syllables are of equal length? Aug 15 '12 at 23:40
  • Elaborating on @Gaston's comment, I'd suggest removing all references to phonemic length from the question. Whether or not a language uses contrastive vowel length (a phonological property) is completely orthogonal to whether stress is realized along the dimension of duration (a phonetic property), or if a language even has stress (for example, Japanese has contrastive vowel length but not stress). If anything, if a language doesn't make use of phonological length is more free to use phonetic duration to cue other things, such as lexical stress. Aug 16 '12 at 14:58
  • Note that, in some languages that have both stress and phonological length contrasts, syllables containing long vowels receive primary stress as a default, but this is not the same thing as duration being an acoustic correlate of lexical stress. Aug 16 '12 at 15:00
  • I defer to Gaston and musicallinguist, and have edited my question to remove references to phonemic length from my question. Aug 16 '12 at 19:58

Russian has equal vowel length for all syllables, but vowels in stressed syllables are pronounced longer and with expiratory pitch. No difference in vowel length is marked in writing and long vowels are perceived by native speakers as having qualities of allophones with 'normal', or short length.

Chinese has approximately equal length for all syllables, but in polysyllabic words there is a kind of tone sandhi which results in specific lexical stress patterns.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.