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Vowel-length contrasts and phonetic cues to stress: an investigation of their relation*

  • Anya Lunden (a1), Jessica Campbell (a1), Mark Hutchens (a1) and Nick Kalivoda (a2)

The functional load hypothesis of Berinstein (1979) put forward the idea that languages which use a suprasegmental property (duration, F0) contrastively will not use it to realise stress. The functional load hypothesis is often cited when stress correlates are discussed, both when it is observed that the language under discussion follows the hypothesis and when it fails to follow it. In the absence of a more wide-ranging assessment of how frequently languages do or do not conform to the functional load hypothesis, it is unknown whether it is an absolute, a strong tendency, a weak tendency or unsupported. The results from a database of reported stress correlates and use of contrastive duration for 140 languages are presented and discussed. No support for the functional load hypothesis is found.

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The Stress Correlate Database has benefited from many additional researchers and assistants from 2011 to 2016 that has allowed it to reach its current form. Listed chronologically, they are: Sara Carter, Rachel Nabulsi, Lindsay Baldovin, Kylie Ehlers, Kelly Luo and Diana Worthen. The authors also thank Anna Henshaw, as well as Kim Love, of K. R. Love Quantitative Consulting and Collaboration, for consultation regarding aspects of the statistical tests reported here.

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