The Rhythm of Heptasyllabic Words: Evidence for Metrical Bidirectionality

Beata Łukaszewicz, Ewa Zajbt, Urszula Krawczyk


Polish is considered a classic example of a bidirectional stress system with internal lapses. Such systems are typologically rare and were recently hypothesized to be non-existent [1]. Latest studies [2, 3], based on comparisons of paired five- and six-syllable words, revealed that secondary stress in Polish is iterative and is expressed in terms of onset consonant duration. No acoustic study of Polish words having more than six syllables has been conducted thus far. However, heptasyllabic words, unlike six-syllable words, can be revealing not only about the presence of secondary stress iteration but also about the direction of stress assignment ([(20)(20)0(10)] vs. *[0(20)(20)(10)]). The present paper reports on an acoustic study of heptasyllabic words compared to segmentally matched five- and six-syllable words (eight triplets, e.g. acetylenowego – acetylenu – acetylenowy, collected from eight native speakers of Polish). Four parameters are investigated: onset consonant duration, vowel duration, intensity and fundamental frequency. The results point to the presence of stress on the third syllable of heptasyllabic words, manifested in terms of longer onset consonant duration. This supports traditional descriptions of Polish as a bidirectional stress system.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-137

Cite as: Łukaszewicz, B., Zajbt, E., Krawczyk, U. (2018) The Rhythm of Heptasyllabic Words: Evidence for Metrical Bidirectionality. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 676-679, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-137.


@inproceedings{Łukaszewicz2018,
  author={Beata Łukaszewicz and Ewa Zajbt and Urszula Krawczyk},
  title={The Rhythm of Heptasyllabic Words: Evidence for Metrical Bidirectionality},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={676--679},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-137},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-137}
}