ENGLISH WORD STRESS Course Designer & Tutor: Prof. Diana Martínez Salatín E-mail: email@example.com Skype ID: diana.martinez.salatin
ENGLISH WORD STRESS WHAT IS STRESS? STRESS Stressed syllables are most often defined as those syllables within an utterance that are l o n g e r, LOUDER, and hiGHer in pitch. Looking at this phenomenon from the speaker’s point of view, stress involves a greater outlay of energy as the speaker expels air from the lung and articulates syllables. From the listeners point of view, the most salient features of stress are probably longer vowel duration in the stressed syllable and higher pitch.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThe difference between stressed and unstressed syllablesis greater in English than in most other languages - with thepossible exception of German. Compare the relativelyunstressed pattern of French words with the moredifferentiated stress pattern of their English cognates:
ENGLISH WORD STRESSTo indicate strongly stressed syllables in phonetictranscription we have chosen the convention of asuperscript accent mark () placed before the syllable; toindicate lightly stressed syllables we use a subscript accent(,); unstressed syllables are not specially marked.Compare: GenAm Another feature of word stress in English is that it can occur on virtually any syllable depending in part on the origin of the word. This apparent lack of predictability as to where the stress falls is confusing to learners from language groups in which stress placement is more transparent.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSFar from being random, stress placement in English words derives fromthe rather colourful history of the language. Today, roughly 30% of thevocabulary of English stems from its Old English origins and retains the native Germanic stress patterns. Many of the remaining words have been acquired through historical events, such as the Norman Conquest, which brought much French vocabulary into English, or through the influences of Christian religion and academia, which have done much to secure the position of words of Greek and Latin origin in the English language.Example:We can see this in borrowings such as GRAMmar (from French gramMAIRE) andCHOColate (from Spanish chocoLAte). In fact, the longer a borrowed word has been inthe English language, the more likely it is that this type of stress shift will occur.
ENGLISH WORD STRESS WHERE THE STESS FALLS IN A WORD Factors that influence stress placement include: the historical origin of a word, affixation, affixation the words grammatical function in an utterance.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSFor words of Germanic origin, the first syllable of the base form of a word is typically stressed:Today, even many two-syllable words that have enteredEnglish through French and other languages have beenassimilated phonologically and follow the Germanic wordstress pattern:
ENGLISH WORD STRESSWords that have not been assimilated to the Germanic pattern haveless predictable word stress in their base forms, but stress is oftenpredictable if certain affixes or spellings are involved. PREFIXES As a general rule, words containing prefixes tend to be strongly stressed on the first syllable of the base or root element, with the prefix either unstressed or lightly stressed: In English, prefixes tend to fall into one of two categories: prefixes of Germanic origin and prefixes of Latinate origin.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThe Germanic prefixes include: a-, be-,for-,fore-,mis-, out-, over-, un-, under-,up-, and with- (as in awake, belief, forgive, forewarn, mistake, outrun, overdo,untie, understand, uphold, and withdrawn.) Some of these prefixes (a-, be-, for-,and with-) are always unstressed in the words in which they occur. Others usuallyreceive light stress, as in the following highly productive prefix + verbcombinations:An exception to this general pattern (light or no stress on the prefix and strongstress on the base) occurs when a word with a prefix (such as fore-, out-, over-,under-, or up-) functions as a noun and has the same pattern as a nouncompound (see the following list). In this case, the prefix or its first syllable tendsto be strongly stressed, with the noun receiving only light stress:
ENGLISH WORD STRESSNotice the difference in word stress in the following examples, where the prefix isattached in one case to a noun and in the other case to a verb.In these examples, the difference in the stress patterns helps to reinforce thedifferences between parts of speech.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThe second category is prefixes of Latinate origin. These include: a(d)-, com-, de-,dis-, a-, en-, in-, ob-, per-, pre-, pro-, re-, sub-, and sur- (as in the verbs complain,discharge, inhale, persuade, subside, etc.). As with prefixes of Germanic origin, it isusually the base (not the prefix) that receives strong stress. However, unlike Germanicprefixes - many of which receive light stress when added to verbs - the majority ofLatinate prefixes are unstressed when part of a verb. Among the most frequent of theseLatinate prefixes, which account for hundreds of verbs in English, are the following:In all these cases, the unstressed nature of the prefix extends to its variantforms. Thus com- would also include its allomorphic variants, co-, col-, con-,and cor-, just as in- also includes im-, il-, and ir-.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSWe see similar differences in word stress with the Latinate prefixes. In otherwords, when these prefixes are part of a word that functions as a noun, the prefixoften receives strong stress. Compare the following sentences:However, there are also examples of Latinate prefixes that receive lightstress because they are still being used to form new words: e.g., re- inREDO, REHEAT, REBUILD.
ENGLISH WORD STRESS SUFFIXESSuffixes affect word stress in one of three ways:1. They may have no effect on the stress pattern of the root word.2. They may receive strong stress themselves. themselves3. They may cause the stress pattern in the stem to shift from one syllable to another.For the most part, the neutral suffixes, which do not affect the stress patternof the root word, are Germanic in origin. These suffixes include, for example,-hood (childhood), less (groundless), -ship (friendship), and -ful (cheerful).In fact, if we compare examples of English words that employ such neutralsuffixes with their modem-day German equivalents, we can easily see thehistorical relationship:
ENGLISH WORD STRESSWords with Germanic or neutral suffixes (whether the stem is of Germanicorigin or not) still tend to maintain the stress pattern of the base form:Unlike the Germanic suffixes, suffixes that have come into the Englishlanguage via French often cause the final syllable of a word to receive strongstress, with other syllables receiving light or no stress. In most cases, thefollowing categories represent borrowings from modem-day French:
ENGLISH WORD STRESSSuffixes can also cause a shift of stress in the root word - that is, as certainsuffixes are added to a word, they can cause the stress to shift to the syllableimmediately preceding the suffix. Note the stress shift caused by the addition ofthe following suffixes to the root word:In these, as in many other words in English, a change of suffix not only brings about a shift instress but also a change in the accompanying vowel reduction or neutralization in theunstressed syllables. Because of the nature of tense and lax vowels, there is sometimes anaccompanying change in syllable structure or syllabification.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSIn certain cases, suffixation may cause a complete change in vowel qualityfrom tense to lax rather than a shift in stress, as in the words page /f / vs.paginate /p/, and mime //, / vs. mimic ///.Finally, it is important to note that in cases where the base and the suffix haveDifferent historical origins, it is the suffix that determines the English stresspattern.For example, Germanic suffixes such as -ly and -ness, which can be added towords of Romance origin, cause no shift in stress: PASsive, PASsively,PASsiveness.Compare this with the shift from PASsive to pasSIVity that occurs with theaddition of the Latinate suffix -ity. This stress shift would extend even to a baseword of Germanic origin if it were to take a Latinate suffix (e.g., FOLDable vs.foldaBILity).
ENGLISH WORD STRESS NUMBERSCardinal and ordinal numbers that represent multiples of ten (20, 30, 40, 50, etc.) have predictablestress on the first syllable.Two different stress patterns are possible with the -teen numbers and their ordinal counterparts:Native speakers tend to use the first of these patterns before a noun in attributive position (e.g., theTHIRteenth man) and when counting. Overall, the second pattern is more common in phrase-final orutterance-final position, or when speakers are trying to make deliberate distinction between the tenand teen digits.When pairs of words such as thirteen and thirty might be confused, native speakers may prefer thesecond pattern (i.e. strong stress on the second syllable) to differentiate clearly:
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThe -teen numbers are compounds - that is, combinations of two or more baseelements. The same is true of all hyphenated numbers: for example, thirty-seven,eighty-four. Like the -teen numbers, hyphenated numbers have two possible stresspatterns depending on the context:If a number is used without another number as a contrast, the first pattern is usedunless the number is utterance final, in which case the second pattern is preferred: Pattern 1: I have TWENty-THREE dollars. Pattern 2: John is only TWENty-THREE.The first pattern is also preferred if the multiple of ten is in contrast or is given specialemphasis: Pattern 1: I said TWENty-THREE, not THIRty-THREEIf however, it is the second number in the compound that is contrasted, the secondpattern is used: Pattern 2: I said TWENty- THREE, not TWENty-TWO.
ENGLISH WORD STRESS COMPOUND NOUNSA compound noun is a fixed expression which is made up ofmore than one word and which has the function of a noun.Some are written as two words, some with a hyphen, andsome as one word: crash ,barrier ,double-glazing baby,sitterNotice that some compound nouns have main stress on thefirst part and others have main stress on the second part.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThe following types of compound noun usually have main stress on the first part:• noun + noun arms race fire ex,tinguisher night-time pillar-box lipstick news, paper airport poverty ,trapExceptions: infor,mation technology ,town hall ,family doctorNotice, however, that if the first part gives the material that the second part is made out of, mainstress usually goes on the second part. Compare:, cotton wool but a cotton , plantExceptions are most compounds ending with -cake, -bread and -juice: cheesecake, gingerbread, orange , juice• noun + -ing form bird-, watching house-,hunting fly-,fishingExceptions: pe,destrian crossi ng ,ball bearing ,thanks giving• -ing form + noun dressing ,gown sitting ,room freezing ,pointExceptions: , managing director de,fining moment ,casting vote• verb + noun search ,party control ,tower think ,tank
ENGLISH WORD STRESSMost adjective + noun compound nouns have main stress on the secondpart and secondary stress on the first part:,social security ,hot potato ,absolute zero Exceptions: blind spot dental ,floss ‘ easy ,chair broadband greenhouseNote that this includes:• adjective + -ing form ,central heating ,global warming , passive smoking• past participle + noun ,split infinitive inverted commas ,lost property
ENGLISH WORD STRESS COMPOUND ADJECTIVESA compound adjective is a fixed expressionwhich is made up of more than one word andwhich has the function of an adjective.Most compound adjectives are written with ahyphen, but a few are written as one word: skin-deep long-term threadbare
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThe following types of compound adjective usually have main stress onthe first part:• compound adjectives usually written as one word airtight carefree praise,worthyExceptions: , nationwide ,handmade• noun + -ing form hair-,raising ‘free-,paying time-con,suming• noun + past participle poverty-,stricken pear-shaped health-re,latedExceptions: ,eagle-eyed ,home-grown
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThe following types of compound adjective usually have main stress on the second part:• noun + adjective ,fat-free ,sky-high ,snow-white (and other colour compounds)Exception: camera-shy• adjective + noun ,long-term ,full-length ,high-profile• adverb or adjective + past participle ,fully-grown ,long-sighted ,well-dressed• adverb or adjective + -ing form , easy-going ,hard-working ,well-meaningExceptions: backward -,look ing forward-,looking• self- as the first part ,self-confident ,self-inflicted ,self-governingMost compound adjectives with main stress on the second part can have stress shift. shiftCompare:The tiger was fully-GROWN. But It was a FULly-grown TIger.The prices were sky-HIGH. But They were SKY-high PRIces.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSStress will vary between such "true" noun compounds and words that look like nouncompounds but are actually functioning as adjective + noun sequences. Compare:In the first of these sentences, White House is functioning as a noun compound – hencethe strong stress is placed on the first element of the compound.In the second sentence, white is lightly stressed and functions simply as an adjectivemodifying the noun house; thus the strong stress falls on the second (or major)element.Examples of other word sequences that can function as either noun compounds oradjective + noun phrases depending on stress and context are greenhouse, blackbird,cold cream, yellow jacket, blackboard, and hot plate.When such word sequences are used as noun compounds, they are often spelled as oneword. The same patterns can occur in more complex contrasts, such as the following:
ENGLISH WORD STRESSTwo-, three- and four-letter abbreviations said as individualletters often have main stress on the last letter andsecondary stress on the first: the ,EU the ,UK the ,BBC ,DNA the ,YMCAAbbreviations like this usually have stress shift. Compare: He works for the BBC. But He works for BBC Radio She’s from the UK. But She’s a UK CITizen.
ENGLISH WORD STRESS REFLEXIVESOne grammatical category that exhibits completepredictability of stress is reflexive pronouns, in whichself/selves receives strong stress in virtually anyenvironment:
ENGLISH WORD STRESS PHRASAL VERBSPhrasal verbs consist of two or three words and are composed of verbs followedby adverbial particles and/or prepositions. They are informal colloquial verbs ofGermanic origin that can often be paraphrased with a more formal single verb ofLatinate origin:The prepositions that are the second element of some two-word phrasal verbs orthe third element of three-word phrasal verbs are: about, at, for, from, of, to, andwith. The most common adverbial particles in two-word verbs are: across, ahead,along, away, back, behind, down, in(to), off, onp over, under, and up.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSWe can distinguish syntactically between the prepositionsand the adverbial particles used to form phrasal verbs. Informal registers, prepositions can be fronted with theirobjects in wh-questions and relative clauses: Formal About whom are you talking? Formal I know the woman about whom they were talking.Particles, however, never permit such fronting in anyregister: Incorrect Up what word did you look? Incorrect The word up which we looked has four meanings.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSWe can classify phrasal verbs into three main patterns. In all threepatterns, the verb head has at least one stressed syllable and thefollowing elements are either unstressed (if functioning asprepositions) or stressed (if functioning as adverbial particles):
ENGLISH WORD STRESSThese stress patterns appear when phrasal verbs are spoken in isolation or when the phrasalVerb represents the last piece of new information in the predicate: predicate Pattern 1 Shes LOOKing at it. Pattern 2 They were STANDing aROUND. Pattern 3 He RAN aWAY with it.However, for phrasal verbs in patterns 2 or 3, if some other content (i.e., stressable) wordcomes after the verb head and carries important new information, then that word is stronglystressed and the verb and particle are only lightly stressed: He TRIED ON a COAT. We PUT the DOG OUT. He RANaWAYwith the MONey. We PUT UP with the NEW diRECtor.For phrasal verbs in the first pattern, only the verb head receives light stress if it is followedby some other content word that carries the new information and receives strong stress: LOOK at the BAby! They TALKED about the MERger.
ENGLISH WORD STRESSAdapted & summarised from: Celce-Murcia, M.; Brinton, D. & Goodwin, J. 2007. Teaching Pronunciation – A reference for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. USA: Cambridge University Press. Hancock, M. 2006. English Pronunciation in Use – Intermediate. Dubai: Cambridge.