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The role of prosodic structure in the formation of English blends

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2013

SABINE ARNDT-LAPPE
Affiliation:
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, English Language and Linguistics, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, 40204 Düsseldorf, Germanysabine.arndt-lappe@uni-duesseldorf.de, ingo.plag@uni-duesseldorf.de
INGO PLAG
Affiliation:
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, English Language and Linguistics, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, 40204 Düsseldorf, Germanysabine.arndt-lappe@uni-duesseldorf.de, ingo.plag@uni-duesseldorf.de

Abstract

This article investigates a variety of ways in which prosodic factors influence blend structure in English. Recent approaches no longer consider blends unpredictable, but the role of stress in blend formation has not been investigated in detail yet. This article addresses this problem, focusing on the role of stress in determining the switchpoint of the two bases in the blend, and on the question of what determines the stress pattern of the blend. We investigate these questions using experimentally derived forms, coined by native speakers on the basis of carefully controlled word pairs as stimuli. The results demonstrate that the length of the blend, the location of the switchpoint, and the stress of the blend are crucially determined by stress properties of the two base words of the blend, above all by those of the second word. At a theoretical level, the most important single finding is that preservation of the stress of the second word may happen independently of preservation of segmental material of the stressed syllable (e.g. préstitant from prestígious + dóminant). In contrast to stress, and contrary to earlier claims, syllabic constituency is shown to be of minor importance for switchpoint location. The theoretical implications of these findings are discussed. On a methodological level, our results show that experimentally elicited blends constitute a valid and highly useful resource for research on blend structure.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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