Weight Sensitivity or Syllable Weight


Weight sensitive languages are those that place stress based on the weight of a syllable. In quantity sensitive languages, heavy syllables will attract stress. If a language is quantity sensitive, stress is not placed according to syllable position.

Weight sensitive languages can be compared to quantity insensitive languages, which do not place stress on syllables according to their weight.


  • Secwepemctsín
    • Idsardy (1991) illustrates that Secwepemctsín is a quantity sensitive language. It is also important to note that the morphology does factor in stress placement of Secwepemctsín (and other Salish languages). Stress placement in Secwepemectsín is illustrated in the following examples:
In this example (8) by Idsardi (1991, p. 219), it is shown that words containing a weak root and a strong suffix will attract stress to the suffix portion of the word as a result of the heavy syllable.

Compare the above example to the following example (9) by Idsardi (1991).

Idsardi (p. 219) then illustrates that in words containing a strong root + variable suffix (i.e., not containing a heavy syllable), the root syllable will attract the stress.
  • Hul’q’umi’num’
    • Dyck (2004) discusses syllable weight in Hul’q’umi’num’, positing that syllable weight is a factor in stress assignment in the language.
    • The example below is used to illustrate syllable weight in Hul’q’umi’num’:
Dyck (2004, p. 148).

In the above example, different syllable