This study advances a theory of weight in which a syllable shape in a given position is only heavy if it, on average, is sufficiently proportionally longer than a CV (consonant-vowel) in the same position. While the analysis of weight is consistent with the basic tenets of moraic theory, a departure is made from standard moraic theory which takes moras to be prosodic units associated directly to segments. Many languages, including Norwegian, exhibit CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) weight asymmetry: CVC is usually heavy but behaves as light word-finally. It is proposed that this asymmetry is motivated by facts of phonetic length and human perception. The theory of weight proposed treats moras a property of syllables as a whole. The stress system of Norwegian is analyzed in detail, taking the categorization of syllable weight to be pre-determined by this weight criterion. Evidence for the stress pattern of the language is drawn from the lexicon and the results of a novel word experiment administered to native Norwegian speakers, giving a more motivated and complete analysis of Norwegian stress than has previously been proposed.
Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd