English word stress


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Online Phonology Clinic II by Prof. Diana Martínez Salatín
October 2011

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English word stress

  1. 1. ENGLISH WORD STRESS Course Designer &Tutor: Prof. Diana Martínez Salatín E-mail: info@victoria-ars.com.ar Skype ID: victoria-ars Website: www.victoria-ars.com.ar
  2. 2. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>WHAT IS STRESS ? </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>From the listener 's point of view, the most salient features of stress are probably longer vowel duration in the stressed syllable and higher pitch. </li></ul>
  3. 3. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>The difference between stressed and unstressed syllables </li></ul><ul><li>is greater in English than in most other languages - with the </li></ul><ul><li>possible exception of German. Compare the relatively </li></ul><ul><li>unstressed pattern of French words with the more </li></ul><ul><li>differentiated stress pattern of their English cognates: </li></ul>
  4. 4. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>To indicate strongly stressed syllables in phonetic </li></ul><ul><li>transcription we have chosen the convention of a </li></ul><ul><li>superscript accent mark (') placed before the syllable; to </li></ul><ul><li>indicate lightly stressed syllables we use a subscript accent </li></ul><ul><li>(,); unstressed syllables are not specially marked. </li></ul><ul><li>Compare: </li></ul><ul><li>GenAm </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  5. 5. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Far from being random, stress placement in English words derives from </li></ul><ul><li>the rather colourful history of the language. Today, roughly 30% of the </li></ul><ul><li>vocabulary of English stems from its Old English origins and retains the </li></ul><ul><li>native Germanic stress patterns. Many of the remaining words have </li></ul><ul><li>been acquired through historical events, such as the Norman </li></ul><ul><li>Conquest, which brought much French vocabulary into English, or </li></ul><ul><li>through the influences of Christian religion and academia, which have </li></ul><ul><li>done much to secure the position of words of Greek and Latin origin in </li></ul><ul><li>the English language. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>We can see this in borrowings such as GRAMmar (from French gramMAIRE) and </li></ul><ul><li>CHOColate (from Spanish chocoLAte). In fact, the longer a borrowed word has been in </li></ul><ul><li>the English language, the more likely it is that this type of stress shift will occur. </li></ul>
  6. 6. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>WHERE THE STESS FALLS IN A WORD </li></ul><ul><li>Fac tors that influence stress placement include: </li></ul><ul><li>the historical origin of a word, </li></ul><ul><li>affixation , </li></ul><ul><li>the word's grammatical function in an utterance. </li></ul>
  7. 7. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>For words of Germanic origin, the first syllable of the base form of a word is typically stressed: </li></ul><ul><li>Today, even many two-syllable words that have entered English </li></ul><ul><li>through French and other languages have been assimilated </li></ul><ul><li>phonologically and follow the Germanic word stress pattern: </li></ul>
  8. 8. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Words that have not been assimilated to the Germanic pattern have less </li></ul><ul><li>predictable word stress in their base forms, but stress is often predictable if </li></ul><ul><li>certain affixes or spellings are involved. </li></ul><ul><li>PREFIXES </li></ul><ul><li>As a general rule, words containing prefixes tend to be strongly </li></ul><ul><li>stressed on the first syllable of the base or root element, with the prefix </li></ul><ul><li>either unstressed or lightly stressed: </li></ul><ul><li>In English, prefixes tend to fall into one of two categories: prefixes of </li></ul><ul><li>Germanic origin and prefixes of Latinate origin. </li></ul>
  9. 9. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>The Germanic prefixes include: a-, be-,for-,fore-,mis-, out-, over-, un-, under-, up-, and </li></ul><ul><li>with- (as in awake, belief, forgive, forewarn, mistake, outrun, overdo, untie, understand, </li></ul><ul><li>uphold, and withdrawn.) Some of these prefixes (a-, be-, for-, and with-) are always </li></ul><ul><li>unstressed in the words in which they occur. Others usually receive light stress, as in the </li></ul><ul><li>following highly productive prefix + verb combinations: </li></ul><ul><li>An exception to this general pattern (light or no stress on the prefix and strong stress on </li></ul><ul><li>the base) occurs when a word with a prefix (such as fore-, out-, over-, under-, or up-) </li></ul><ul><li>functions as a noun and has the same pattern as a noun compound (see the following </li></ul><ul><li>list). In this case, the prefix or its first syllable tends to be strongly stressed, with the noun </li></ul><ul><li>receiving only light stress: </li></ul>
  10. 10. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Notice the difference in word stress in the following examples, where the prefix is </li></ul><ul><li>attached in one case to a noun and in the other case to a verb. </li></ul><ul><li>In these examples, the difference in the stress patterns helps to reinforce the differences </li></ul><ul><li>between parts of speech. </li></ul>
  11. 11. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>The second category is prefixes of Latinate origin. These include: a(d)-, com- , de- , dis- , </li></ul><ul><li>a- , en- , in- , ob- , per- , pre- , pro- , re- , sub- , and sur- (as in the verbs complain, discharge, </li></ul><ul><li>inhale, persuade, subside, etc.). As with prefixes of Germanic origin, it is usually the base </li></ul><ul><li>(not the prefix) that receives strong stress. However, unlike Germanic prefixes - many of </li></ul><ul><li>which receive light stress when added to verbs - the majority of Latinate prefixes are </li></ul><ul><li>unstressed when part of a verb. Among the most frequent of these Latinate prefixes, </li></ul><ul><li>which account for hundreds of verbs in English, are the following: </li></ul><ul><li>In all these cases, the unstressed nature of the prefix extends to its variant </li></ul><ul><li>forms. Thus com- would also include its allomorphic variants, co- , col- , con- , </li></ul><ul><li>and cor- , just as in- also includes im- , il- , and ir- . </li></ul>
  12. 12. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>We see similar differences in word stress with the Latinate prefixes. In other words, when </li></ul><ul><li>these prefixes are part of a word that functions as a noun, the prefix often receives strong </li></ul><ul><li>stress. Compare the following sentences: </li></ul><ul><li>However, there are also examples of Latinate prefixes that receive light stress </li></ul><ul><li>because they are still being used to form new words: e.g., re- in </li></ul><ul><li>RE DO, RE HEAT, RE BUILD. </li></ul>
  13. 13. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>SUFFIXES </li></ul><ul><li>Suffixes affect word stress in one of three ways: </li></ul><ul><li>1. They may have no effect on the stress pattern of the root word. </li></ul><ul><li>2. They may receive strong stress themselves . </li></ul><ul><li>3. They may cause the stress pattern in the stem to shift from one syllable to another. </li></ul><ul><li>For the most part, the neutral suffixes, which do not affect the stress pattern of the root </li></ul><ul><li>word, are Germanic in origin. These suffixes include, for example, -hood (childhood), less </li></ul><ul><li>(groundless), -ship (friendship), and -ful (cheerful). In fact, if we compare examples of </li></ul><ul><li>English words that employ such neutral suffixes with their modem-day German </li></ul><ul><li>equivalents, we can easily see the historical relationship: </li></ul>
  14. 14. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Words with Germanic or neutral suffixes (whether the stem is of Germanic origin or not) </li></ul><ul><li>still tend to maintain the stress pattern of the base form: </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike the Germanic suffixes, suffixes that have come into the English language via </li></ul><ul><li>French often cause the final syllable of a word to receive strong stress, with other </li></ul><ul><li>syllables receiving light or no stress. In most cases, the following categories represent </li></ul><ul><li>borrowings from modem-day French: </li></ul>
  15. 15. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Suffixes can also cause a shift of stress in the root word - that is, as certain suffixes are </li></ul><ul><li>added to a word, they can cause the stress to shift to the syllable immediately preceding </li></ul><ul><li>the suffix. Note the stress shift caused by the addition of the following suffixes to the root </li></ul><ul><li>word: </li></ul><ul><li>In these, as in many other words in English, a change of suffix not only brings about a shift in stress </li></ul><ul><li>but also a change in the accompanying vowel reduction or neutralization in the unstressed syllables. </li></ul><ul><li>Because of the nature of tense and lax vowels, there is sometimes an accompanying change </li></ul><ul><li>in syllable structure or syllabification. </li></ul>
  16. 16. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>In certain cases, suffixation may cause a complete change in vowel quality </li></ul><ul><li>from tense to lax rather than a shift in stress, as in the words page /  / vs. </li></ul><ul><li>paginate /  /, and mime /  / vs. mimic /  /. </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, it is important to note that in cases where the base and the suffix have </li></ul><ul><li>Different historical origins, it is the suffix that determines the English stress </li></ul><ul><li>pattern. </li></ul><ul><li>For example, Germanic suffixes such as -ly and -ness , which can be added to </li></ul><ul><li>words of Romance origin, cause no shift in stress: PASsive, PASsively, </li></ul><ul><li>PASsiveness. </li></ul><ul><li>Compare this with the shift from PASsive to pasSIVity that occurs with the </li></ul><ul><li>addition of the Latinate suffix -ity . This stress shift would extend even to a base </li></ul><ul><li>word of Germanic origin if it were to take a Latinate suffix (e.g., FOLDable vs. </li></ul><ul><li>foldaBILity). </li></ul>
  17. 17. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>NUMBERS </li></ul><ul><li>Cardinal and ordinal numbers that represent multiples of ten (20, 30, 40, 50, etc.) have predictable stress on the first </li></ul><ul><li>syllable. </li></ul><ul><li>Two different stress patterns are possible with the -teen numbers and their ordinal counterparts: </li></ul><ul><li>Native speakers tend to use the first of these patterns before a noun in attributive position (e.g., the THIRteenth man) </li></ul><ul><li>and when counting. Overall, the second pattern is more common in phrase-final or utterance-final position, or when </li></ul><ul><li>speakers are trying to make deliberate distinction between the ten and teen digits. </li></ul><ul><li>When pairs of words such as thirteen and thirty might be confused, native speakers may prefer the second pattern (i.e. </li></ul><ul><li>strong stress on the second syllable) to differentiate clearly: </li></ul>
  18. 18. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>The -teen numbers are compounds - that is , combinations of two or more base elements. The same </li></ul><ul><li>is true of all hyphenated numbers: for example , thirty-seven, eighty-four . Like the -teen numbers, </li></ul><ul><li>hyphenated numbers have two possible stress patterns depending on the context: </li></ul><ul><li>If a number is used without another number as a contrast, the first pattern is used – unless the number </li></ul><ul><li>is utterance final, in which case the second pattern is preferred: </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern 1 : I have TWENty- THREE dollars. </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern 2 : John is only TWEN ty-THREE. </li></ul><ul><li>The first pattern is also preferred if the multiple of ten is in contrast or is given special emphasis: </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern 1 : I said TWENty- THREE , not THIRty- THREE </li></ul><ul><li>If however, it is the second number in the compound that is contrasted, the second pattern is used: </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern 2 : I said TWEN ty- THREE, not TWEN ty-TWO. </li></ul>
  19. 19. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>COMPOUND NOUNS </li></ul><ul><li>A compound noun is a fixed expression which is made up of more than </li></ul><ul><li>one word and which has the function of a noun. Some are written as </li></ul><ul><li>two words, some with a hyphen, and some as one word: </li></ul><ul><li>'crash ,barrier ,double-'glazing 'baby,sitter </li></ul><ul><li>Notice that some compound nouns have main stress on the first part </li></ul><ul><li>and others have main stress on the second part. </li></ul>
  20. 20. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>The following types of compound noun usually have main stress on the first part: </li></ul><ul><li>• noun + noun </li></ul><ul><li>' arms race ' fire ex,tinguisher ' night-time ' pillar-box </li></ul><ul><li>' lipstick ' news, paper ' airport ' poverty ,trap </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: infor,mation tech'nology ,town ' hall ,family ' doctor </li></ul><ul><li>Notice, however, that if the first part gives the material that the second part is made out of, main stress usually goes on </li></ul><ul><li>the second part. Compare: </li></ul><ul><li>, cotton ' wool but a ' cotton , plant </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions are most compounds ending with -cake, -bread and -juice: </li></ul><ul><li>' cheesecake, ' gingerbread, ' orange , juice </li></ul><ul><li>• noun + -ing form </li></ul><ul><li>' bird-, watching ' house-,hunting ' fly-,fishing </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: pe,destrian ' crossi ng ,ball ' bearing ,thanks ' giving </li></ul><ul><li>• -ing form + noun </li></ul><ul><li>' dressing ,gown ' sitting ,room ' freezing ,point </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: , managing di'rector de,fining ' moment ,casting ' vote </li></ul><ul><li>• verb + noun </li></ul><ul><li>' search ,party con'trol ,tower ' think ,tank </li></ul>
  21. 21. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Most adjective + noun compound nouns have main stress on the second part and </li></ul><ul><li>secondary stress on the first part: </li></ul><ul><li>,social se'curity ,hot po'tato ,absolute ' zero </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: ' blind spot ' dental ,floss ‘ easy ,chair ' broadband ' greenhouse </li></ul><ul><li>Note that this includes: </li></ul><ul><li>• adjective + -ing form </li></ul><ul><li>,central ' heating ,global 'warming , passive ' smoking </li></ul><ul><li>• past participle + noun </li></ul><ul><li>,split in'finitive inverted 'commas ,lost 'property </li></ul>
  22. 22. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>COMPOUND ADJECTIVES </li></ul><ul><li>A compound adjective is a fixed expression which is </li></ul><ul><li>made up of more than one word and which has the function </li></ul><ul><li>of an adjective. </li></ul><ul><li>Most compound adjectives are written with a hyphen, but a </li></ul><ul><li>few are written as one word: </li></ul><ul><li>skin-deep long-term threadbare </li></ul>
  23. 23. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>The following types of compound adjective usually have main stress on the first part: </li></ul><ul><li>• compound adjectives usually written as one word </li></ul><ul><li>'airtight 'carefree 'praise,worthy </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: , nation'wide ,hand'made </li></ul><ul><li>• noun + -ing form </li></ul><ul><li>'hair-,raising ‘free-,paying 'time-con,suming </li></ul><ul><li>• noun + past participle </li></ul><ul><li>' poverty-,stricken 'pear-shaped 'health-re,lated </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: ,eagle-'eyed ,home-'grown </li></ul>
  24. 24. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>The following types of compound adjective usually have main stress on the second part: </li></ul><ul><li>• noun + adjective </li></ul><ul><li>,fat-'free ,sky-'high ,snow-'white (and other colour compounds) </li></ul><ul><li>Exception: ' camera-shy </li></ul><ul><li>• adjective + noun </li></ul><ul><li>,long-'term ,full-'length ,high-'profile </li></ul><ul><li>• adverb or adjective + past participle </li></ul><ul><li>,fully-'grown ,long-'sighted ,well-'dressed </li></ul><ul><li>• adverb or adjective + -ing form </li></ul><ul><li>, easy-'going ,hard-'working ,well-'meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions: ' backward -,look ing 'forward-,looking </li></ul><ul><li>• self- as the first part </li></ul><ul><li>,self-'confident ,self-in'flicted ,self-'governing </li></ul><ul><li>Most compound adjectives with main stress on the second part can have stress shift . Compare: </li></ul><ul><li>The tiger was fully-GROWN. But It was a FULly-grown TIger. </li></ul><ul><li>The prices were sky-HIGH. But They were SKY-high PRIces. </li></ul>
  25. 25. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Stress will vary between such &quot;true&quot; noun compounds and words that look like noun compounds but </li></ul><ul><li>are actually functioning as adjective + noun sequences. Compare: </li></ul><ul><li>In the first of these sentences, White House is functioning as a noun compound - hence the strong </li></ul><ul><li>stress is placed on the first element of the compound. </li></ul><ul><li>In the second sentence, white is lightly stressed and functions simply as an adjective modifying the </li></ul><ul><li>noun house; thus the strong stress falls on the second (or major) element. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of other word sequences that can function as either noun compounds or adjective + noun </li></ul><ul><li>phrases depending on stress and context are greenhouse, blackbird, cold cream, yellow jacket, </li></ul><ul><li>blackboard, and hot plate. </li></ul><ul><li>When such word sequences are used as noun compounds, they are often spelled as one word. </li></ul><ul><li>The same patterns can occur in more complex contrasts, such as the following: </li></ul>
  26. 26. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Two-, three- and four-letter abbreviations said as individual letters </li></ul><ul><li>often have main stress on the last letter and secondary stress on the </li></ul><ul><li>first: </li></ul><ul><li>the ,E'U the ,U'K the ,BB'C ,DN'A the ,YMC'A </li></ul><ul><li>Abbreviations like this usually have stress shift. Compare: </li></ul><ul><li>He works for the BB C. But He works for B BC Radio </li></ul><ul><li>She’s from the U K. But She’s a U K CITizen. </li></ul>
  27. 27. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>REFLEXIVES </li></ul><ul><li>One grammatical category that exhibits complete predictability of stress </li></ul><ul><li>is reflexive pronouns, in which self/selves receives strong stress in </li></ul><ul><li>virtually any environment: </li></ul>
  28. 28. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>PHRASAL VERBS </li></ul><ul><li>Phrasal verbs consist of two or three words and are composed of verbs followed by </li></ul><ul><li>adverbial particles and/or prepositions. They are informal colloquial verbs of Germanic </li></ul><ul><li>origin that can often be paraphrased with a more formal single verb of Latinate origin: </li></ul><ul><li>The prepositions that are the second element of some two-word phrasal verbs or the </li></ul><ul><li>third element of three-word phrasal verbs are: about, at, for, from, of, to, and with. The </li></ul><ul><li>most common adverbial particles in two-word verbs are: across, ahead, along, away, </li></ul><ul><li>back, behind, down, in(to), off, onp over, under, and up. </li></ul>
  29. 29. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>We can distinguish syntactically between the prepositions and the </li></ul><ul><li>adverbial particles used to form phrasal verbs. In formal registers, </li></ul><ul><li>prepositions can be fronted with their objects in wh-questions and </li></ul><ul><li>relative clauses: </li></ul><ul><li>Formal About whom are you talking? </li></ul><ul><li>Formal I know the woman about whom they were talking. </li></ul><ul><li>Particles, however, never permit such fronting in any register: </li></ul><ul><li>Incorrect Up what word did you look? </li></ul><ul><li>Incorrect The word up which we looked has four meanings. </li></ul>
  30. 30. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>We can classify phrasal verbs into three main patterns. In all three patterns, the </li></ul><ul><li>verb head has at least one stressed syllable and the following elements are </li></ul><ul><li>either unstressed (if functioning as prepositions) or stressed (if functioning as </li></ul><ul><li>adverbial particles): </li></ul>
  31. 31. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>These stress patterns appear when phrasal verbs are spoken in isolation or when the phrasal verb </li></ul><ul><li>represents the last piece of new information in the predicate : </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern 1 She's LOOKing at it. </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern 2 They were STANDing aROUND. </li></ul><ul><li>Pattern 3 He RAN aWAY with it. </li></ul><ul><li>However, for phrasal verbs in patterns 2 or 3, if some other content (i.e., stressable) word comes after </li></ul><ul><li>the verb head and carries important new information, then that word is strongly stressed and the verb </li></ul><ul><li>and particle are only lightly stressed: </li></ul><ul><li>He TRIED ON a COAT. </li></ul><ul><li>We PUT the DOG OUT . </li></ul><ul><li>He RANaWAYwith the MON ey . </li></ul><ul><li>We PUT UP with the NEW di REC tor . </li></ul><ul><li>For phrasal verbs in the first pattern, only the verb head receives light stress if it is followed by some </li></ul><ul><li>other content word that carries the new information and receives strong stress: </li></ul><ul><li>LOOK at the BA by ! </li></ul><ul><li>They TALKED about the MER ger . </li></ul>
  32. 32. ENGLISH WORD STRESS <ul><li>Adapted & summarised from: </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Hancock, M. 2006. English Pronunciation in Use – Intermediate . Dubai: Cambridge. </li></ul>