Date of Completion


Embargo Period



accent assignment, parametric grammar, parameter dependency, diacritic weight, weight scales, dominance, accentual typology

Major Advisor

Harry van der Hulst

Associate Advisor

Andrea Calabrese

Associate Advisor

William Snyder

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This dissertation examines word accent assignment in phonological, lexical and mixed accent systems with the goal of providing a uniform account of these types of systems in terms of a single accent-assigning mechanism.

Taking as a point of departure the Primary Accent First theory (van der Hulst 1996, 2010, 2012), I introduce here the Scales-and-Parameters (S&P) theory which proposes a set of parameters related by ordering and dependencies. Empirical testing reveals that, for phonological accent systems, the S&P parameter system closely approaches descriptive adequacy.

In order to account for phonological and lexical accent systems with the same grammar, a new weight theory is constructed, which extends the notion “weight” to morphemes by treating their accent-attracting ability as “diacritic weight” (rather than lexical accent). Given the scalar nature of weight, new types of weight scales (alongside phonological ones) are predicted that contain diacritic and/or phonological weight. Detailed case studies of accentuation in Central Selkup, Uzbek, Eastern Literary Mari and Tundra Nenets confirm that these types of weight scales are effectively attested.

Importantly, the resulting Scales-and-Parameters grammar also allows for a uniform account of different types of exceptions in different types of systems, in particular of dominant morphemes in lexical accent systems (Selkup, Uzbek, Sanskrit) and morphologically-conditioned exceptions in mixed systems (Eastern Literary Mari), capturing both the accent rule of the language and exceptions to it with the same phonological apparatus.

The dissertation examines over 30 accent systems through a series of case studies and through (re-)analysis of StressTyp records.