The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

Distinguishing Emphatic and Prosodic Word Initial Stresses: Evidence from Brazilian Portuguese

Priscila Marques Toneli (1), Marina Vigário (2), Maria Bernadete M. Abaurre (1)

(1) Institute of Language Studies, State University of Campinas, Brazil
(2) University of Lisbon, Portugal

In European Portuguese (EP), emphatic stress and initial stress have been reported to be optionally assigned to the first (or in some cases the second) syllable of a Prosodic Word (PW) [1]. In Brazilian Portuguese (BP), initial stress (and/or H-tone) has been claimed to be assigned with reference to the primary stress position and be dependent on the number of pretonic syllables within a PW [2]. [3], [4] and [5] suggest that in BP secondary stress assignment essentially signals the beginning of the PW in emphatic contexts, however. Although [5] reports that in emphatic contexts the initial stress and the ‘H-tone’ can coincide with a secondary stress, the nature of this type of stress and the difference between emphatic stress and PW initial stress in BP is in general not discussed. In this paper we argue that, although the two types of stresses in BP are tonally signaled, they are distinct, both in function and in distribution. Empirical data from two varieties of Portuguese spoken in Brazil (Paraná and Minas Gerais states) are presented, showing that the emphatic stress has a wider distribution than the initial stress, in neutral contexts. The emphatic stress may occur in any syllable from the stressed syllable leftwards, within the PW, including the syllable immediately adjacent to word-stress. The initial stress, by contrast, is found on the first or second pretonic syllable of PW, and there is a minimal distance of two syllables between initial stress and word-stress (e.g. governaDOres ‘governors’) [2]. We argue that the initial stress is an edge phenomenon, marking PW initial positions, unlike the emphatic stress. In both cases, the tonal association is evidence for the PW domain in BP, because neither type of stress exceeds the limits of this domain (i.e., none of them can appear in post-tonic syllables of non-final PW).


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  5. Fernandes, F. R., “Acento secundário, atribuição tonal e ênfase em português brasileiro (PB)”, Estudos Lingüísticos (São Paulo), 38, 47-58, 2009.

Index Terms: Initial Stress, Emphatic Stress, Brazilian Portuguese, Prosodic Word, Tonal Association

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Toneli, Priscila Marques / Vigário, Marina / Abaurre, Maria Bernadete M. (2014): "Distinguishing emphatic and prosodic word initial stresses: evidence from Brazilian Portuguese", In TAL-2014, 172-176.