WHAT IS STRESS?
This is the main question. Can you think of some
words that are related to stress? May be…
Now, let us look at some general
definitions made by linguists. I will
underline the key words of each concept.
“Stress is a cover term for the
combined effects of pitch, loudness
and length- the result of which is
prominence” (Dobrovolsky, Aranoff &
“The pronunciation of a syllable or
word with more respiratory energy or
muscular force than other syllables or
words in the same utterance.”
(Richards & Schmidt, 2002).
“It is the degree of force or loudness
with which syllables are spoken in
English.” (Quintana de Laya & Laya,
All these definitions give us an idea of
what stress is.
We have two forms in
which we can identify
Syllables undergo changes
according to the degree of
stress on them…
Have clear vowels
Have mostly unclear
Have higher pitches
Have lower pitches
Look at this
of stress in each
This means that all
syllables have stress, just
in different intensities. In
English there are about
four levels of Stress. Here
are the three most
important for words stress.
Let’s use a ladder to show
P.D.: Secondary stress will be
explained later :D
Carried by the clear
vowel with the
Carried by the clear
vowel which does
not have primary
Carried by the
within the word
Kukanauza y Allegra (2008)
Since stress is an aural thing, we
need to use a conventional set
of signals to indicate stress in
written form. These are just
three of many systems:
Look at a sample indication of
stress with each system.
Remember: if you transcribe the
word, you will see the sounds
and type of vowels.
Many people use this one. However, some had found it unclear to determine the size of the
bubble and identify the sounds. :/
If you assign a different color for each stress, the indications would be accurate though
This set of marks with these
color coding is the system we
will use in class. Get familiar
with it, use the proper colors
and start marking the stress
When you mark the stress on a
word you must consider the
aspects mentioned by Roach
(1983, p. 8 of your DFII Book)
First, you have to identify the
primary stress. This is the easiest
stress to find. In this case, the
diphthong /oʊ/ carries the
highest pitch in the word. We
mark using a red crayon.
Second, we identify the rest of
stresses. Here, this vowel is
considered to be an unclear
vowel. Thus, we will use the
symbol (.) to indicate weak stress.
Let us try again with a different
First, we identify the primary stress in this
word. Where is it? Good. The / is the vowel
with the highest pitch in this word!
And once more, our little Schwa
gets a weak stress!
Second, is there any other clear
vowel? Taratatan… There is. It is
the diphthong /aI/. Tip: All
diphthongs are full/ clear vowels
(/ oʊ / is subject to exception).
This sound will carries a tertiary
level of stress
One last try: a longer word.
First, look for the primary stress in this word.
The diphthong /eɪ/ has highest pitch of all.
_. / .
Finally, if you see, there are just
two schwas left. They will both
carry a weak degree of stress.
Second, there is only one more
clear vowel and that is /e/. It has a
tertiary level of stress.
Ok, how come we have a disctintion
between clear and unclear vowels?
This distinction is caused by the stress
When a syllable in a word is emphasized
highly the stress of rest of the syllables will
This effect is applied to the peaks of those
syllables: the vowels.
Unclear vowels are vowels that don’t have
a full realization or quality, they are more
or less neutral…
The diphthong / may occur
in stressed or unstressed
It would be considered unclear
And will take a weak stress
when it occurs in unstressed positions:
Transcribe the following words in your notebooks
with the help of your dictionary and mark the stress
pattern of each one.