Original scientific article
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Stress change and phonological variation in early Modern English, British and American

Javier E. Díaz-Vera
E-mail: JavierEnrique.Diaz@uclm.es
ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7251-2839
Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Ciudad Real

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Abstract: In this paper, I propose a dynamic approach to the origin and development of the English Stress Rule (ESR), with special attention to late Middle English and early Modern English. My main aim consists in determining (i) the historical relations of this rule with two of its predecessors through the analysis of competing phonological rules and (ii) the patterns of phonological variation thereby created. My analysis tries to demonstrate that the phonological rule that affected the pronunciation of Romance loans in eModE had its origin in the need to avoid homonymy between nouns and verbs. However, this necessity produced a second series of stress changes that affected many other nouns for which the existence of a verbal counterpart was not as obvious. Consequently, nouns and adjectives with “more typically” nomi-nal endings (as those included under [+F]) kept their final stress, so that in broad terms the ESR could be conceived as a consequence of the different level of success with which eModE speakers were able to distinguish between nouns with homonymous verbs and nouns without verbal counterparts.
Keywords:
stress variation and change, English Stress Rule (ESR), Middle English, early Modern English, early American English,
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