Primary stress assignment in Brazilian Portuguese
Walters, Susan Gary
MetadataShow full item record
Brazilians display a great interest in the prosody of their own language. Much classroom time is spent counting syllables, enumerating detailed rules for stress assignment and memorizing rules of diacritics used in the orthography (e.g., Cegalla 1991). Stress assignment and its rules are one of the topics covered on the vestibular, the nationwide university entrance exam (Savioli 1991:131ff). Students in elementary schools study syllable structure and division. Even by the second grade they know such words as paroxítono ‘a word whose stress falls on the next to last syllable’ and antepenúltimo ‘antepenultimate’. The problem is that many of the rules taught seem arbitrary and unrelated to each other. A linguistic account of stress in Brazilian Portuguese (BP) can bring greater understanding and simplicity to the description of BP prosody. This could be of help to native speakers themselves as well as to those attempting to learn BP as a second language. Once primary stress is determined, secondary stress, phonotactic constraints, and various phonological processes can be derived by rule (Major 1985). Metrical phonology provides a useful framework for explaining the linguistic facts as well as for predicting stress assignment and the use of some diacritics in the BP orthography.