2010-10-20

stress in Papiamentu

In this article, stress refers to pronouncing one syllable more loudly than the rest of a word. Papiamentu words have distinctive patterns of stress, as do words in English and many other languages.

In Papiamentu stress is indicated by a combination of changes in loudness, duration, and the actual quality of the vowel itself. Stressed vowels are about 2.5 decibels louder than the mean intensity of the entire sentence. The vowel of a stressed syllable has a longer duration than the vowel of an unstressed syllable: 114 milliseconds compared to 70 milliseconds on average.

Unstressed vowels are more centralized, in other words more schwa-like, than their stressed counterparts. For example, an unstressed i will be slightly more like the vowel in stick and less like the vowel in ski.

(The source of that information is an academic research paper: Stress, tone and discourse prominence in the Curaçao dialect of Papiamentu by Bert Remijsen and Vincent J. van Heuven.)

The following general rules are often given in textbooks and tutorial websites:

Normalmente, na papiamentu e énfasis di un palabra ta kai semper riba e último sílaba di un palabra ku ta kaba ku konsonante, òf riba e penúltimo sílaba di un palabra ku ta kaba ku vokal. (source: Wikipedia)

When a word ends with a vowel, the next-to-last syllable is stressed. Examples: lenga, palabra, papiamentu

When a word ends with a consonant, the final syllable is stressed. Examples: nashonal, popular

There are many exceptions.

In the Curaçao spelling system, exceptions are supposed to be marked with an acute accent: fásil, fonétiko, Perú. Naturally people who are typing or texting in a hurry omit these accents. The official spelling system of Aruba does not use accent marks to indicate stress.(source: www.papiamento.aw)

When the plural suffix -nan is added to a noun the stress does not move onto nan even though it ends with a consonant. For example, the u is stressed in both buki and bukinan.

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