Stress Assignment in N+N Combinations in Arabic

Abdel Rahman Mitib Altakhaineh


The validity of stress as a criterion to distinguish between compounds and phrases has been investigated in many languages, including English (see e.g. Lieber 2005: 376; Booij 2012: 84). However, the possibility of using stress as a criterion in this way has not been investigated for Arabic. Siloni (1997: 21) claims that in N+N combinations in Semitic languages, stress always falls on the second element. However, the results of a study using PRAAT reveal that, in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Jordanian Arabic (JA), stress plays no role in distinguishing between various N+N combinations, i.e. compounds and phrases, e.g.ˈmuʕallim lfiizyaaʔ ‘the physics teacher’ vs.ˈbayt lwalad ‘the boy’s house’, respectively. Analysis shows that the default position of stress in N+N combinations in MSA and JA is on the first element. There is only one systematic exception, which is phonetically conditioned: in N+N combinations with assimilated geminates on the word boundary, a secondary stress or perhaps double stress is assigned.



stress, Arabic, State Construct (SC), Synthetic Genitive Construction (SGC), phrases, compounds

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