Seventeen native English speakers participated in an investigation of language users' knowledge of English main stress patterns. First, they produced 40 two-syllable nonwords of varying syllabic structure as nouns and verbs. Second, they indicated their preference for first or second syllable stress of the same words in a perception task. Finally, they indicated words they considered to be phonologically similar to the nonwords. Analyses of variance on the production and perception data indicated that both syllabic structure and lexical class (noun or verb) had an effect on main stress assignment. In logistic regression analyses on the production and perception responses, predictions of stress placement made by (1) syllable structure, (2) lexical class, and (3) stress patterns of phonologically similar words all contributed significantly and uniquely to the prediction of main stress assignment. The results indicate that phonological theories of English word stress need to allow for multiple, competing, probabilistic factors in accounts of main stress placement including syllabic structure (most notably vowel length), lexical class, and stress patterns of phonologically similar words.
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