Re: [tied] Germanic stress

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 8196
Date: 2001-07-31

Well, we don't normally converse in recitative style, but there is something in what you're saying. Alliteration means extra emphasis on the root syllable for semantic reasons, and the same motivation underlies the Germanic principle of initial (actually, root-initial) prominence. I doubt if alliterative poetry alone could be responsible for the shift; rather, the shift and alliteration were two sides of the same coin -- or manifestations of the same preference. Areal influence exerted by initially-stressed languages, such as Baltic Finnic, is often given as the ultimate cause of the stress shift, though the tendency to pronounce the root syllable as clearly as possible is also understandable on its own, and initial stress is one of the world's most common patterns.
----- Original Message -----
From: tgpedersen@...
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2001 12:10 PM
Subject: Re: [tied] Germanic stress

I've noticed that those languages that use initial stress in North Europe: Germanic, Baltic Finnic, Latvian, all have traditional poetry that use alliteration. The obvious thought is that the causality here is from language to poetry: In an initial-stress language alliteration is more natural that end-rhyme. But what if it's the other way round. In a traditional society poetry is the storehouse of thought. Suppose a substrate culture had alliterating poetry, and the style of recital spread to everyday language?