American English Phonetics

Another American English Faculty Project

Compounds are words that are made up of other words, called the constituents of the compound. We distinguish:

  1. noun compounds (e.g. typewriter)
  2. verb compounds (e.g. to breast-feed: borstvoeding geven)
  3. adjective compounds (e.g. good-natured)

Compounds are stressed either on the first constituent, as in ˈnail-clippers or AN ˈautorijden or on both constituents, as in ˈgood-ˈnatured or AN ˈdood-ziek. (When the first constituent consists of only one syllable, it does not make much of a difference whether you transcribe doodˈziek or ˈdoodziek. Also, do not worry about the fact that some dictionaries put the first of these stresses on the line, e.g. ˌdoodziek. In fact, this notation is rather misleading, because it suggests that there is a difference in pronunciation between an ˈarch ˈbishop (een schalkse bisschop) and an ˈarchˈbishop (een aartsbisschop), while there is not.)

The rule in Dutch is that the stress goes to the first constituent in noun com­pounds and verb compounds, while in adjective compounds either the first or both constituents are stressed, as is illustrated by

  1. noun compound ˈdia-avond
  2. verb compound ˈdauwtrappen
  3. adjective compound ˈzeeziek, ˈdoodziek

In English the situation is more complex. We will deal with each compound category separately.