A Phonological motivation behind the diatonic stress shift in Modern English

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The paper addresses the historical growth of disyllabic stress-alternating noun-verb pairs, or ‘diatones’, such as récord/recórd in Modern English. First, I describe how diatones have increased in number since their first attestation in the late sixteenth century. Next, I critically review two accounts, the prefix effect and the frequency effect, that have been proposed to explain why the diatonic stress pattern has become productive over the last four centuries. Then, I consider two phonological factors, word-final alveolar stops and consonant extrametricality, that likely contributed to the growth of diatones. After I present an investigation into the relevance of these two factors from a diachronic as well as synchronic point of view, the paper concludes that the phonological factors have always been a driving force in the development of the diatonic pattern.


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