LINGUIST List 9.998

Sat Jul 4 1998

Sum: Stress shifts in compounds

Editor for this issue: Elaine Halleck <>


  1. Ian Watering, Stresss shift in compounds etc.

Message 1: Stresss shift in compounds etc.

Date: Fri, 03 Jul 1998 14:21:36 +0200
From: Ian Watering <>
Subject: Stresss shift in compounds etc.

Thanks for your useful and interesting comments to my question, where I
used "Berlin" and "princess" as examples of words with double/level
stress in Br. Eng.. The examples were chosen at random.
Your comments showed:
1. "princess" is always PRINcess in Am.Eng. Anything else would sound

2. You don't all agree on "Berlin".
a) About 40% accept BERlin in contexts like "BERlin Wall", but berLIN
in "the wall through berLIN".
b) About 60% have invariable berLIN. Among this group there are those
who say they have NEVER heard Berlin stressed on the first syllable.
(Perhaps we should arrange a meeting between groups a and b! You come
from all over the States, so this doesn't appear to be a difference of

3. However, many of you pointed out other examples of the same sort of
stress shift in Am.Eng., all of which would also sound natural in

moTEL vs MOtel Six
tenesSEE vs TEnessee walking horse
tallaHASsee vs TALlahassee lassie
port allaGHEny vs ALLagheny county
hirTEEN etc vs THIRteen men
chiNESE vs CHInese checkers
politics in d.C vs D.c politics
corNELL university vs CORnell avenue etc

The phenomenon is referred to "stress retraction", "stress clash and
clash resolution", and the "Thirteen-Men Rule"!

Hope that this reply has resolved the clash.

Yours unstressed,

Ian W.
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