[Lingtyp] languages without word level stress

Matthew Gordon mgordon at linguistics.ucsb.edu
Thu Oct 17 17:29:54 UTC 2019

Hi Adam,

Languages without word stress appear to be pretty common (and increasingly
more so given recent re-analyses of languages traditionally described as
having stress) but only phrase-level intonation. Probably a more secure
example than French (which does display certain attributes suggesting
metrical prominence) would be Korean (also analyzed as having word-level
stress in the past) examined in work by Sun-Ah Jun (e.g. 1993, 1998). Other
languages with a similar prosodic file (intonation but not word stress)
include West Greenlandic (Arnhold 2014), Halh Mongolian (Karlsson 2014) and
Turkish under certain analyses (Özçelik 2012). (There seem to be many
others as well.) All of these languages have in common that at one time
(and even currently) have been proposed to have word-level stress that (in
most of the cases) gravitates toward the periphery of a domain, which is
also the site for pitch movements attributed to an intonation system.
Reliable diagnostics for definitively distinguishing between word stress
and prominence attributed to intonation are often difficult to find.


Arnhold, Anja. 2014. Prosodic structure and focus realization in West
Greenlandic. In Jun, Sun-Ah (ed.), *Prosodic typology II: The phonology of
intonation and phrasing, *216-51. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jun, Sun-Ah. 1993. The phonetics and phonology of Korean prosody. Ph. D.
dissertation, The Ohio State University.

Jun, Sun-Ah. 1998. The Accentual Phrase in the Korean prosodic hierarchy.
Phonology 15, 189-226.

Karlsson, Anastasia M. 2014. The intonational phonology of Mongolian. In
Sun-Ah Jun (ed.), *Prosodic typology II: The phonology of intonation and
phrasing*, pp. 187-215. New York: Oxford University Press.

Özçelik, Öner. 2012. Redefining the prosodic hierarchy. *McGill Working
Papers in Linguistics* 22.1 (



On Thu, Oct 17, 2019 at 6:44 AM TALLMAN Adam <Adam.TALLMAN at cnrs.fr> wrote:

> Hey all,
> This is just a query for sources.
> I'm looking for languages that have been explicitly described as having no
> word-level stress. I was under the impression that this was fairly common,
> but apparently the existence of such languages (e.g. French) is
> controversial [?].
> To be clear, I mean stress in Hyman's sense of a single culminative and
> obligatory marking of prominence.
> (After that, I'm wondering whether there have been cases of languages that
> are described as containing neither word-level nor phrase-level stress in
> the same sense).
> best,
> Adam
> Adam James Ross Tallman (PhD, UT Austin)
> ELDP-SOAS -- Postdoctorante
> CNRS -- Dynamique Du Langage (UMR 5596)
> Bureau 207, 14 av. Berthelot, Lyon (07)
> Numero celular en bolivia: +59163116867
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