In English adjective-noun combinations the noun commonly carries the main stress:
- a big HOUSE
- a beautiful DOG
An exception to this rule are adjective-noun combinations that are treated as one unit, and the adjective carries the main stress:
- a HOT dog
- the WHITE house
However, I've also noted this stress pattern with other examples (the links are to Youtube videos):
I have noted this stress pattern in a number of examples, and my impression is that it's more common in American than in British English. Each of them might be interpreted contrastively. In the second example the speaker seems to imply that Chinese food is somehow more fun or enticing than, say, Italian food. Similarly, in the first example that information that the speaker is talking about black men, not white men seems to be key.
But I've always found this stress pattern surprising, to me the context in these examples doesn't warrant this kind of contrastive focus (as in "No, I want ChiNESE food, not ITAlian food."). Then again, I'm not a native speaker. So my questions are:
1) Does this stress pattern strike anyone else as remarkable, or is it just me?
2) Is "contrastive stress/focus" the best analysis of these examples?
3) Is it more frequent in American English than other varieties, such as British English (note that all the examples are from American English)?
4) Has this stress pattern become more frequent in the last decades or so?
If this stress pattern is something more than just ordinary contrastive focus, references would be appreciated (but not strictly necessary ;)