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Auteur: Björn KÖHNLEIN

Co-Auteur(s): Frans HINSKENS (Meertens Instituut) Marc VAN OOSTENDORP (Meertens Instituut / Leiden University)

Dutch stress assignment in Biblical names: general patterns and sociolinguistic variation in a large-scale web survey

Abstract/Résumé: The issue. Despite extensive studies, the insights into Dutch stress have not converged on a consensus regarding the nature of stress assignment. Based on an unprecedented large-scale online study on stress assignment with almost 1,750 informants and 1,900 tokens (largely unknown biblical names), this paper contributes to our understanding of the general phonological patterns and allows for a first-time evaluation of regional as well as other cultural and sociolinguistic factors influencing stress assignment. The survey. In cooperation with the Stichting Hebreeuwse en Jiddisje woorden in het Nederlands and the Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap, we have conducted a large-scale online survey on stress assignment in Biblical names with 1,747 speakers of Dutch; their task was to mark the location of primary stress, reflecting their favourite Dutch pronunciation of the respective name. As most of the items are unknown to even experienced readers of the Bible, knowledge of the names scarcely influences the results; still, to control for such effects, familiarity with each name was elicited, among other personal data, such as place of birth / residence, age, gender, religious beliefs, or knowledge of other living and classic languages (including Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Greek). The data have been collected between December 2011 and August 2012, in 19 questionnaires with 100 names each: participants filled in a first questionnaire and could subsequently decide whether they were willing to complete more surveys. The first questionnaire always contained a list of 40 pre-selected items, incorporating phonological factors such as syllable weight, number of syllables, and vowel quality – for these 40 names, we collected 1,747 responses. Furthermore, 225 participants completed all 19 forms; in total, we received 1,198,500 answers, and at least 549 responses for each item. Outlook on the analysis. The huge amount of data in combination with the elicitation of various cultural and sociolinguistic variables strongly suggests that the outcomes of the analysis will reveal new insights into fundamental questions concerning stress assignment in Dutch, such as the following: a) Basics: How strong are the generalizations on Dutch stress assignment formulated in the literature reflected in the judgments of native speakers? Does weight sensitivity play a role in stress assignment, and if so, to which degree? Does the number of syllables in a word influence stress placement? b) Variation: To which degree is there interspeaker variation, and which extralinguistic factors does it correlate with?