Stress pattern in “Little Red Riding Hood”


I was surprised to see that the primary stress in the phrase "Little Red Riding Hood" falls into the first syllable in "Riding". I expected the primary stress would fall into the word "Hood" since "Riding" is the action that is clearly NOT supported by the "Hood".

This pattern is quite popular for many English words for example "Running Water", "Talking Head", "Falling Star". There are exceptions as always but there're reasons behind those things historically or linguistically. However, I can't find any resources that explain why "Little Red Riding Hood" is stressed that way.

Could someone help to give me some hints?

Best Answer

In "running water" and your other examples, the first word is an adjective. By contrast, in "riding hood", "riding" is an adjunct specifying the kind of hood. Such adjuncts are usually stressed more than the nouns they modify. Examples: swimming cap, riding jacket.