Skip to main content Accessibility help

Two views of accent

  • Dwight Bolinger (a1)


The debate over determinism and free choice in linguistics is not likely to be settled in this or the next century. All we can do is try to shed some light on the issue from time to time, and perhaps define areas that are best described deterministically, and others where freedom reigns, in majesty if not supreme. Nowhere has the debate been more lively than in descriptions of English stress and accent. The latest – to which this essay is a response (and which can be consulted for chronological developments – there is no need to repeat them here) is Gussenhoven (1983), ‘Focus, mode and the nucleus’. It is a forthright endorsement of a deterministic view, with the high merit of a rich assortment of examples – many attested and all perfectly idiomatic. The case that Gussenhoven builds is a solid one, and as it is directed in part against a view that I have espoused for a long time and still believe to be correct, it requires an answer.



Hide All
Bolinger, D. (1971). Semantic overloading: a restudy of the verb remind. Lg 47. 522547.
Bolinger, D. (1973). Essence and accident: English analogs of Hispanic ser-estar. In Kachru, B., Lees, R., Malkiel, Y., Pietrangeli, A. & Saporta, S. (eds.) Issues in linguistics: papers in honor of Henry and Renée Kahane. Urbana: University of Illinois Park, 5869.
Bolinger, D. (1978). Review of Schmerling, S. F. Aspects of English sentence stress. American Journal of Computational Linguistics.
Bolinger, D. (1980). Language: the loaded weapon. London: Longman.
Bolinger, D. (1981). Two kinds of vowels, two kinds of rhythm. Bloomington: Indiana University Linguistics Club.
Bolinger, D. (1983). Affirmation and default. Folia Linguistica 17. 99116.
Bolinger, D. (1985). Intonation and its parts: Melody in Spoken English. Stanford, California. Stanford University Press.
Brazil, D., Coulthard, M., and Johns, C. (1980). Discourse intonation and language teaching. London: Longman.
Chomsky, N., and Halle, M. (1968). The sound pattern of English. New York: Harper & Row.
Dik, S. et al. (1980). On the typology of focus phenomena. Leide Taalkundig Bulletin GLOT 3. 4174.
Ekman, P., and Friesen, W. (1969). The repertoire of nonverbal behavior: categories, origins, usage, and coding. Semiotica 1. 4998.
Erteschik-Shir, N., and Lappin, S. (1983). Under stress: a functional explanation of English sentence stress. JL 19. 419453.
Gussenhoven, C. (1983). Focus, mode and the nucleus. JL 19. 377417.
Haiman, John (ed.), (in press). Iconicity in syntax. (Typological studies in language 6.). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Markey, T. L. (to appear). The case vs. classifier continuum. Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik.
Melchers, Gunnel. (1981). Sentence accent placement in English spoken by Swedes. In Fretheim, T. (ed.) Nordic Prosody II: Papers from a Symposium. Lund: Tapir. 192–97.
Pettersson, T. (1983). Electroconvulsive therapy and the lateralization of linguistic functions. Working Papers Department of Linguistics and Phonetics Lands Universitet 26. 197.
Schubiger, Maria. (1963). Again: the stressing of prepositions. English Studies 44: 4. 13.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed