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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    2011. A Grammar of Old English.

    2011. A Grammar of Old English.

    Minkova, Donka 2008. Prefixation and stress in Old English1In memoriam Richard Hogg (1944–2007). Word Structure, Vol. 1, Issue. 1, p. 21.

    McCully, C.B. 2006. Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics.

    Fikkert, Paula 2003. Development in Prosodic Systems.

    Redford, Michael 2003. Development in Prosodic Systems.

    McCully, Chris 2002. Exaptation and English stress. Language Sciences, Vol. 24, Issue. 3-4, p. 323.

    Gąsiorowski, Piotr 1997. Studies in Middle English Linguistics.

    McCully, Christopher B. 1997. Studies in Middle English Linguistics.

    1996. The French Influence on Middle English Morphology.

    SUZUKI, SEIICHI 1995. THE DECLINE OF THE FOOT AS A SUPERSYLLABIC MORA-COUNTING UNIT IN EARLY GERMANIC. Transactions of the Philological Society, Vol. 93, Issue. 2, p. 227.

    Colman, Fran 1994. On the morphology of old english word stress. Lingua, Vol. 93, Issue. 2-3, p. 141.

    Markus, Manfred 1994. Studies in Early Modern English.

    McCully, C.B. 1993. The English alliterative tradition. Lingua, Vol. 89, Issue. 4, p. 353.

    McCully, Christopher B. 1991. NON-LINEAR PHONOLOGY AND ELIZABETHAN PROSODY. Transactions of the Philological Society, Vol. 89, Issue. 1, p. 1.


An account of Old English stress1

  • C. B. McCully (a1) and R. M. Hogg (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 28 November 2008

The phenomenon of stress in Old English (OE) has been the subject of thorough and extensive study for well over a century. Indeed the foundation for any modern study remains the work of Eduard Sievers (1885, 1893a, b), well summarized in Campbell (1959). The present paper is not concerned with a revision of the ‘facts’ of Sievers' account, although we shall note below instances where we disagree with those facts, but rather with a linguistic explanation of those facts. Sievers' account is essentially a statistical presentation of varying stress patterns, and he made little attempt to provide explanations of either frequent patterns, or non-existent ones. The framework in which we shall operate is that of lexicalist metrical phonology. Within that framework we shall attempt to demonstrate that Old English stress was organized in a way very different from that in Modern English. Most particularly we shall suggest that there is a central rule (the Old English Stress Rule = OESR) which, in contrast to the central rule for present-day English (PDE), operated from left-to-right. This, we shall suggest, has direct implications for the operation of other features of stress derivations, such as Destressing. Further, we shall argue that it is probable that level-ordering has no role to play in the stress phonology of Old English.

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R. P. Creed (1966). A new approach to the rhythm of Beowulf. PMLA 81. 2333.

S. J. Keyser & W. O'Neil (1985). Rule generalization and optionality in language change. Dordrecht: Foris.

K. P. Mohanan (1986). The theory of lexical phonology. Dordrecht: Reidel.

M. Suphi (1988) Old English stress assignment. Lingua 75. 171202.

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