Main stress in Italian nonce nouns

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In Italian, main stress can be found on any of the last three syllables of a word. There is general consent that this is due to lexical stress. The analyses on default stress assignment diverge. Authors disagree on whether the language is quantitysensitive or not and on whether default stress falls on the second- or third-last syllable. In this paper, I present data from a nonce word test conducted with native speakers that show that speakers face the same dilemma as linguists do when analysing the system. They divide into three groups, speakers who consistently stress the third-last syllable, speakers who consistently stress the second-last syllable and those who show variation with an even split between the two options. All speakers consistently stress penultimate heavy syllables. Intra-speaker variation is analysed in the framework of Optimality Theory as ad hoc rankings of unranked constraints.


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