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Polish stress: looking for phonetic evidence of a bidirectional system*

  • Luiza Newlin-Łukowicz (a1)

Abstract

This paper reports on a study of Polish stress, the only uncontested example of a bidirectional system with internal lapses (Kager 2001, McCarthy 2003). The results indicate that Polish stress is non-iterative, a finding that seriously calls into question the existence of this particular stress type. An analysis of the acoustic prominence of syllables traditionally associated with different stress levels suggests that Polish simple words exhibit only one (penultimate) prominence. The stress pattern in compounds is less uniform; they can carry one or two (penultimate) stresses, depending on their prosodic structure. I analyse the distribution of stresses in compounds as governed by clash avoidance. Specifically, compound stems are parsed into separate PWds and assigned separate stresses only if the emergent trochees are non-adjacent. Hence, four-syllable compounds like /tsuʤɔ-ˈʑεmʲεts/ ‘foreigner’ have one stress, while compounds like /banaˈnɔvɔ-arbuˈzɔvɨ/ ‘banana-watermelon’ have two. I ascribe this pattern to the undominated ranking of the *FtFt constraint.

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Phonology
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