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Quantity-(in)sensitivity is a one of the typological parameters that define stress systems, introduced by Hayes (1981). It reflects the role of syllable weight in assigning stress feet. In a quantity-sensitive (=QS) language feet are sensitive to the internal structure of syllables, i.e. heavy syllables occur in head position of feet. (The weight-contrast is language-specific.) In a quantity-insensitive (=QI) language feet are built ignoring differences in syllable structure, i.e. all types of syllables can occur in the head position of a foot.


Latin is QS: the internal structure of syllables plays a decisive role in the penultimate position of a word. One additional restriction in Latin is that the final syllable is extrametrical (i.e. ignored by the stress rules). The antepenultimate syllable receives stress if the penultimate is light: co:nfíci<unt>; the penultimate syllable is stressed only if it is heavy: pepér<ci:> (cf. Hayes (1991:80).



  • Hayes, B. 1981. A metrical theory of stress rules, PhD diss. MIT Cambridge, MA. Revised version distributed by IULC, published by Garland Press, New York, 1985.