stress placement, lexicon, three-syllable window condition, heavy penult condition


This paper examines two supposed restrictions on Spanish stress placement: 1) the heavy penult condition, which prohibits stress leftward of the penultimate syllable if the penultimate syllable is heavy, and 2) the three-syllable window condition, which prohibits stress other than on one of the final three syllables of a word. While these two conditions are clearly descriptively adequate generalizations about the lexicon, this study sets out to determine whether they are psychologically real restrictions, serving as constraints that prohibit words that violate them. The results of a perception study indicate that neither of these conditions is a psychologically real restriction on Spanish stress placement. While the present study adds another type of evidence to recent claims that Spanish is not quantity sensitive, it goes a step further with respect to the heavy penult condition by claiming that words that violate this condition are not disallowed by Spanish at all. With respect to the three-syllable window condition, this study is the first to claim that this exceptionless generalization about Spanish stress is nothing more than a generalization over words in the lexicon, and is not a true restriction on Spanish stress placement.

Original Publication Citation

Alvord, Scott M. and Timothy L. Face. 25. Descriptive adequacy vs. psychological reality: The case of two restrictions on Spanish stress. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 32:2 1-16.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


University of Illinois






Spanish and Portuguese