Skip to main content

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.

Corresponding author
Hide All

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.

Hide All
Beckman Mary E. & Edwards Jan (1994). Articulatory evidence for differentiating stress categories. In Keating Patricia A. (ed.) Phonological structure and phonetic form: papers in laboratory phonology III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 733.
Berinstein Ava E. (1979). A cross-linguistic study on the perception and production of stress. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 47. 159.
Blevins Juliette (2001). Nhanda: an aboriginal language of Western Australia. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
Dillmann August (1907). Ethiopic grammar. 2nd edn, enlarged and improved by Carl Bezold. Translated by Crichton James A.. London: Williams & Norgate.
Dixon R. M. W. (1988). A grammar of Boumaa Fijian. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press.
Du Jingyi (2010). Towards a grammar of the Usen dialect of the Barok language: New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. PhD dissertation, La Trobe University.
Eatough Andrew (1999). Central Hill Nisenan texts with grammatical sketch. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Fry D. B. (1955). Duration and intensity as physical correlates of linguistic stress. JASA 27. 765768.
Fry D. B. (1958). Experiments in the perception of stress. Language and Speech 1. 126152.
Gordon Matthew (2004). A phonological and phonetic study of word-level stress in Chickasaw. IJAL 70. 132.
Gordon Matthew (2014). Disentangling stress and pitch-accent: a typology of prominence at different prosodic levels. In van der Hulst Harry (ed.) Word stress: theoretical and typological issues. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 83118.
Hayes Bruce (1995). Metrical stress theory: principles and case studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hume Elizabeth (1997). Vowel preservation in Leti. Oceanic Linguistics 31. 65101.
Hume Elizabeth, Muller Jennifer & van Engelhoven Aone (1997). Non-moraic geminates in Leti. Phonology 14. 371402.
Hyman Larry M. (1977). On the nature of linguistic stress. In Hyman Larry M. (ed.) Studies in stress and accent. Los Angeles: Department of Linguistics, University of Southern California. 3782.
Kroeker Menno (2001). A descriptive grammar of Nambikuara. IJAL 67. 187.
Lehiste Ilse (1970). Suprasegmentals. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Liljegren Henrik (2008). Towards a grammatical description of Palula: an Indo-Aryan language of the Hindu Kush. PhD dissertation, University of Stockholm.
Lindblom Björn (1963). Spectrographic study of vowel reduction. JASA 35. 17731781.
Łukaszewicz Beata (2015). Polish rhythmic stress revisited: phonetic evidence of an iterative system. Poster presented at Phonetics and Phonology in Europe, Cambridge.
Lunden Anya & Kalivoda Nick (2017). Stress correlate database. Available (August 2017) at
Lynch John (2000). A grammar of Anejom̃. Canberra: Australian National University.
Martin Jack B. (2011). A grammar of Creek (Muskogee) . Lincoln & London: University of Nebraska Press.
Pierrehumbert Janet B. (1980). The phonology and phonetics of English intonation. PhD dissertation, MIT.
Rich F. (1963). Arabela phonemes and high-level phonology. In Studies in Peruvian Indian languages. Vol. 1. Norman: Summer Institute of Linguistics. 193206.
Rosero Michael Wilson I. (2014). A grammatical sketch of Masbatenyo. BA thesis, University of the Philippines.
Rozelle Lorna (1997). The effect of stress on vowel length in Aleut. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 95. 91101.
Sapir J. David (1965). A grammar of Diola-Fogny: a language spoken in the Basse-Casamance region of Senegal. London: Cambridge University Press.
Shukla Shaligram (1981). Bhojpuri grammar. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
Sluijter Agaath M. C. & van Heuven Vincent J. (1996). Spectral balance as an acoustic correlate of linguistic stress. JASA 100. 24712485.
Snapp Allen, Anderson John & Anderson Joy (1982). Northern Paiute. In Langacker Ronald W. (ed.) Studies in Uto-Aztecan grammar. Vol. 3: Uto-Aztecan grammatical sketches. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics & University of Texas at Arlington. 192.
Stevens Kenneth N. & House Arthur S. (1963). Perturbation of vowel articulations by consonantal context: an acoustical study. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 6. 111128.
Suomi Kari, Toivanen Juhani & Ylitalo Riikka (2003). Durational and tonal correlates of accent in Finnish. JPh 31. 113138.
Suttles Wayne (2004). Musqueam reference grammar. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Taff Alice, Rozelle Lorna, Cho Taehong, Ladefoged Peter, Dirks Moses & Wegelin Jacob (2001). Phonetic structures of Aleut. JPh 29. 231271.
Thornes Timothy J. (2003). A Northern Paiute grammar with texts. PhD dissertation, University of Oregon.
Titze Ingo R. (1989). On the relation between subglottal pressure and fundamental frequency in phonation. JASA 85. 901906.
Turk Alice (2012). The temporal implementation of prosodic structure. In Cohn Abigail C., Fougeron Cécile & Huffman Marie K. (eds.) The Oxford handbook of laboratory phonology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 242253.
Ultan Russell (1967). Konkow grammar. PhD dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
Vogel Irene, Athanasopoulou Angeliki & Pincus Nadya (2015). Acoustic properties of prominence in Hungarian and the Functional Load Hypothesis. In Kiss Katalin É., Surányi Balázs & Dékány Éva (eds.) Approaches to Hungarian. Vol. 14. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins. 267292.
Vogel Irene, Athanasopoulou Angeliki & Pincus Nadya (2016). Prominence, contrast and the Functional Load Hypothesis: an acoustic investigation. In Heinz Jeffrey, Goedemans Rob & van der Hulst Harry (eds.) Dimensions of phonological stress. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 123167.
White Laurence & Mády Katalin (2008). The long and the short and the final: phonological vowel length and prosodic timing in Hungarian. In Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2008. 363–366. Available (August 2017) at
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0952-6757
  • EISSN: 1469-8188
  • URL: /core/journals/phonology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Lunden et al supplementary material
Lunden et al supplementary material 1

 PDF (183 KB)
183 KB
Supplementary materials

Lunden et al supplementary material
Lunden et al supplementary material 2

 Unknown (134 KB)
134 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 10
Total number of PDF views: 85 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 360 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th December 2017 - 18th February 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.