In phonology, a metrical tree is a branching representation of stress, introduced by Liberman & Prince (1977) in the framework of metrical phonology. A metrical tree is a hierarchy in which syllables are combined into feet and feet into a word constituent. Higher level structure includes the phonological phrase, intonational phrase and utterance (cf. Selkirk (1981), Nespor & Vogel (1986)). Pairs of sister nodes are labeled Weak-Strong or Strong-Weak (or by the Lexical Category Prominence Rule).
The English phrase achromatic lens is represented as follows:
/ \ / \ / \ / \ w s / \ | Fw Fs F / \ / \ \ Ss Sw Ss Sw S | | | | | a chro ma tic lens
where S = syllable, w = weak, F = foot, s = strong
Hayes (1981) constrained metrical theory considerably by the introduction of a universally defined set of parameters that characterize the stress systems of languages (i.e. bounded/unbounded; dominance (left/right), direction of footing, quantity-(in)sensitivity).
- 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.
- Liberman, M. and A. Prince (1977) On Stress and Linguistic Rhythm, Linguistic Inquiry 8, pp. 249-336
- Nespor, M. and I. Vogel (1986) Prosodic Phonology, Foris, Dordrecht.
- Selkirk, E.O. (1981) English Compounding and the Theory of Word-structure, in: M. Moortgat, H. Van der Hulst & T. Hoekstra (eds.) The Scope of Lexical Rules, Foris, Dordrecht.