LINGUIST List 15.2451

Fri Sep 3 2004

Qs: The Definition of Stress

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  1. VC, The definition of stress

Message 1: The definition of stress

Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2004 21:52:32 +0300
From: VC <>
Subject: The definition of stress

Dear Listmembers,

I'm preparing a work on the Canaanean language, and became suspicious
that the folks had somewhat different understanding of stress than we
do now.

Perhaps you can advise me on the following questions:

What exactly is the definition of "stress"? I assumed it is an
elongation of the vowel, but I've seen other definitions, like
difference of pitch (which is ok for, say, umlaut, but I cannot figure
out what it has to do with stress) and even stress (yes, the tautology
"stress is a stressed vowel").

If, however, stress is an elongation, how could a short vowel be
stressed? Presumably, it should become long under the stress. However,
the short vowels in closed syllables seemingly do not become long when

What becomes of long vowel under the stress? Although elongated, it
hardly becomes "extra long." What exactly is the difference between long
and stressed long vowels?

Why there is a tendency in languages to move the stress from closed to
open syllable?

I would appreciate any comments. Thank you in advance.


Vadim Cherny
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