1-2-1 versus 2-1-2

Anne Lambert annelamb at GNV.FDT.NET
Sat Jan 29 03:48:15 UTC 2000

I don't know the system that is being used here; is 1 the main stress, 2
secondary and so on?

RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:

> This has been driving me crazy, but I think I've finally figured it out,
> thanks to Preston and Troike.
> Dennis is right (below) about 1-2-1 stress versus 2-1-2 for monosyllabic
> words; the former does indeed unambiguously indicate ((Adj+Noun) Noun)). It
> now seems to me, though, that 1-2-1 is contrastive, selected only as a way of
> disambiguating a potentially ambiguous string. Otherwise, one selects the
> default pattern 2-1-2, which is also the pattern for the unmarked parsing
> ((Adj) Noun + Noun). This is why one gets, e.g., "dead END kids" meaning
> "dead-end kids": nobody thinks that "dead+end+kids" is ambiguous because
> everybody knows that "dead-end" is a compound (and "end kids" seems like an
> unlikely combination, though I guess it would be possible to think of the
> 'dead kids on the end'). Similarly, people who, like Dennis, don't think of
> "big-hair" as a sort of compound (and who would puzzle over what a "hair day"
> might be) would use the default stress pattern. People like me (who didn't
> think of "big+hair" as a compound) would assume that, since the contrastive
> stress pattern was not being used, the parsing must be the unmarked "big
> hair-day" (on the common pattern of "birthday," "Sunday," "holiday,"
> "Groundhog Day," etc.)
> How would one indicate unambiguously "big hair-day" if one needed to do so?
> or "dead end-kid"? Troike's reminder about juncture is helpful here, I think:
> at least in my speech, I can signal this by lengthening the vowel of the
> first word ("biiiig hair-day," "deeeaaad end-kid") or perhaps by an
> exceptionally lengthy pause ("bigguh hair day," "deaduh end-kid").
> In a message dated 1/26/2000 3:13:58 PM, preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU writes:
> << Ron is right and wrong.
> Let's stick with his 1=primary stress, 2=secondary, etc...
> Most ((Adj+Noun) Noun) combos are 1-2-1 "big-dog show" = show of big dogs.
> Most (Adj(Noun+Noun)) combos are 2-1-2 "big dog-show" = big show of dogs.
> My stress marks are only relative; if you find some "3" rather than "2,"
> that's not important. (I also know that neither is typically hypenated; I'm
> just doing that to make sure my parsing is well-understood.)
> Here's the problem. I believe that "bad hair day" is like the first
> ("bad-hair day"), but I pronounce it (and have nearly always heard it
> pronounced) like the latter.
> Wuzzup?
> dInIs
>  >>

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