Word Stress in English

General guidelines on word stress: one word has only one stress; stress vowels, not consonants. Origins of the word stress and the notion of accent. English accentuation tendencies. Typical patterns of stress of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

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Язык английский
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CHAPTER 1. The nature of Word Stress in English

1.1 Origins of the Word Stress and the notion of Accent

1.2 Types of English Word Stress

CHAPTER 2. Place of Word Stress in English

2.1 Functions of Word Stress

2.2 English accentuation tendencies



word stress accent vowel


The "major part of second language learners seem to reach adequate proficiency in the spheres of morphology and syntax, still they have difficulty reaching the same proficiency level in the fields of phonology and phonetics. Native speakers who are competent users of the language absolutely know in what way to say a word, know how to pronounce it. The difficulty attaining the same level as native speakers is found within the results of interference of the mother tongue with English. The interference of native Russian as the mother tongue is obscure in learners of English, but not just in grammar aspect, also in pronunciation and it can be shown in the comparative display of the word stress that this paper is partly about.

In this course paper our attention will be focused on the accentual patterns of English words. The sequence of syllables in the word is pronounced not even close or identically. One syllable or syllables that are uttered with some prominence than the other syllables in the very word, are meant to be stressed or in other words accented. The correlation of prominences of different syllables in a word is totally understood as the accentual (stress) structure of the word or its (accentual) stress pattern.

Many English and Russian linguists worked over the question of word stress in English as the unique phenomenon. According to D. Crystal the terms "… heaviness, sound pressure, force, power, strength, intensity, amplitude, prominence, emphasis, accent, stress" tend to be used synonymously by most writers. According to G.P. Torsuev the notions "stressed" and "prominent" should not be used as the synonyms. The effect of prominence, states the linguist, is made by some phonetic features of sounds, which have nothing to do with the actual word or sentence stress.

The actuality of the investigation may be argued by the fact that nowadays the great attention is paid to the research of accentual structure of English words. Because stress or accent fulfill enormous functions of formation words and compound words. The main aim of the course paper is to clarify types of stress, places and degrees of word stress, factors and functions of word stress.

The practical value of this course paper is that the practical results and conclusions can be used at the seminars on theoretical and practical phonetics and lexicology.

In conclusion all important deductions both of theoretical and of practical character conformably to the studying sphere of phonetics have been summed up and formulated.

Bibliography contains of English, Russian and American phoneticians and linguists, and information from the Internet" devoted to the theory of phonology, phonetics and intonation as such.

CHAPTER 1. The nature of Word stress in English

1.1 Origins of the Word Stress and the notion of Accent

The spoken language has a unique division into segments like vowels and consonants. As we utter them, we make use of wide range of tones of voice. The speech features that are higher than the sound segments are length, stress, pitch, intonation, rhythm and juncture. Here we are describing the nature of word stress.

The sequence of syllables in the word is not pronounced identically. The syllable or syllables which are uttered with more prominence than the other syllables of the word are said to be stressed or accented. Stress in the isolated word is termed word stress; stress in connected speech is termed sentence stress.

At first we have to find out the meaning of the notions: word stress, intonation, accent. "Different authors define stress differently. B.A. Bogoroditsky, for instance, defined stress as an increase of energy, accompanied by an increase of expiratory and articulatory activity. D. Jones defined word stress as the degree of force, which is accompanied by a strong force of exhalation and gives an impression of loudness. H. Sweet also stated that stress, is connected with the force of breath. According to A.C. Gimson, any or all of four factors achieve the effect of prominence: force, tone, length and vowel color.

For native English listeners, the most important syllable in a word is the stressed syllable, the primary cue for identifying the word. This makes stress the most important pronunciation topic. In addition, the characteristics of stressed and unstressed syllables in single words are mirrored in rhythm. Word stress is described as a communicatively important pronunciation topic, bridging the continuum between segmentals (consonants and vowels) and suprasegmentals (rhythm and intonation)" [20; 17].

Strelnikov A.M. suggested another description. He states that "the word stress can be defined as the singling out of one or more syllables in а word, which is accompanied by the change of the force of utterance, pitch of the voice, qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the vowel sound" [4].

Still the most full and correct definition can be found in the Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. "A term used in phonetics to refer to the degree of force used in producing a syllable. The usual distinction is between stressed and unstressed syllables, the former being more prominent than the latter (and marked in transcription with a raised vertical line, [c]. The prominence is usually due to an increase in loudness of the stressed syllable, but increases in length and often pitch may contribute to the overall impression of prominence. In popular usage, `stress' is usually equated with an undifferentiated notion of `emphasis' or `strength'" [13; 454].

The notion of stress is supposed to close enough to the meaning of intonation. Still there exists a huge difference. The difference between stress and intonation is that " …stress is the relative loudness of parts of speech where intonation is the variation in the pitch of different parts of speech. Linguists generally believe that there are about 3 to 4 levels of stress in the English language. In most cases, stress does not really change the meaning of words and is more or less associated with the dialect or accent being used" [8; 138]. There are some cases where this assumption is not valid - see the table 1.1.

Table 1.1. Examples in English, where the stress changes the meaning of the word

Although Loudness has an inherent pitch component, stress, as the relative loudness, sometimes has an added pitch variation. This extra pitch variation is called a pitch accent. An example of a language, which contains a pronounced level of pitch accent is Turkish. Pitch variations are used to change the stress level of a word mostly due to rhythmic constraints imposed by the language.

As long as we are discussing the notion of accent, it is reasonable to define its meaning. Accent was originally a loan translation from Greek into Latin (a loan translation is when each constituent of a compound in one language is translated into its equivalent in another, and then reassembled into a new compound). " … Greek prosфidiв (whence English prosody) was formed from pros `to' and фidй `song' (whence English ode); these elements were translated into Latin ad `to' and cantus `song' (whence English chant, cant, cantata, canticle), giving accentus. The notion underlying this combination of `to' and `song' was of a song added to speech - that is, the intonation of spoken language. The sense of a particular mode of pronunciation did not arise in English until the 16th century" [6; 4].

In the Britannica Encyclopedia exists the following meaning of the accent notion. " … in phonetics, that property of a syllable which makes it stand out in an utterance relative to its neighboring syllables. The emphasis on the accented syllable, relative to the unaccented syllables may be realized through greater length, higher or lower pitch, a changing pitch contour, greater loudness or a combination of these characteristics" [10;54].

"The emphasis which makes a particular word or syllable stand out in a stream of speech - one talks especially of an accented sound/word/syllable, or the accent(ual) pattern of a phrase/sentence. The term is usually found in a discussion of metre (metrics), where it refers to the `beats' in a line of poetry - the accented syllables, as opposed to the unaccented ones. But any style of spoken language could be described with reference to the relative weight (accentuation) of its syllables: one might talk of the `strongly accented' speech of a politician, for instance.

Technically, accent is not solely a matter of loudness, but also of pitch and duration, especially pitch: comparing the verb record (as in I'm going to record the tune) and the noun (I've got a record), the contrast in word accent between re`cord and `record is made by the syllables differing in loudness, length and pitch movement. The notion of pitch accent as also been used in the phonological analysis of these languages, referring to cases where there is a restricted distribution of tone within words (as in Japanese). A similar use of these variables is found in the notion of sentence accent (also called `contrastive accent'). This is an important aspect of linguistic analysis, especially of intonation, because it can affect the acceptability, the meaning, or the presuppositions of a sentence, e.g. He was wearing a red hat could be heard as a response to Was he wearing a red coat?; whereas He was wearing a red hat would respond to Was he wearing a green hat? The term stress, however, is often used for contrasts of this kind (as in the phrases `word stress' and `contrastive stress'). An analysis in terms of pitch accent is also possible.

The total system of accents in a language is sometimes called the accentual system, and would be part of the study of phonology. The coinage accentology for the study of accents is sometimes found in European linguistics. (3) In graphology, an accent is a mark placed above a letter, showing how that letter is to be pronounced. French accents, for example, include a distinction between e, e and e. Accents are a type of diacritic" [13; 4].

Most linguists believe that syllabic and lexical accents do not change the meaning of words in English. However, we know that syllabic and lexical accents are also components of linguistic stress along with other concepts such as syllabic and lexical sonority variations and metrical variations. In those regards, since syllabic stress does change the meaning of words in English, then so do accent.

1.2 Types of English Word Stress

Accent has various domains: the word, the phrase, the sentence. Word accent (also called word stress or lexical stress) is a part of the characteristic way in which a language is pronounced. Given to a particular language system, word accent may be:

1. Fixed (like in Welsh);

2. Predictable (e.g. in French, where it occurs regularly at the end of words, or in Czech, where it occurs initially);

3. Movable, as in English, which then leaves accent free to function to distinguish one word from another that is identical segmentally (e.g. the noun permit versus the verb to permit).

Different types of word stress are distinguished not only according to its physical (acoustic) nature and degree, but also according to its position in different words of the language. "From this point of view two types of word stress are distinguished: fixed and free.

a) In languages with fixed word stress the position of stress is the same in all the words. For instance, in Czech and Lettish the main stress falls on the first syllable of each word and grammatical form of а word; in French, stress is tied to the last syllable of each word; in Polish, it falls on the prefinal syllable of all words and their grammatical forms.

b) In languages with free word stress the primary stress may fall in different words on any syllable. For example in Russian: к`омната, раб`ота, матем`атика, преподав`атель, машиностро`ение, окн`о; in English: `mother, ig`nore, соn`sideРration, ciga`rette.

Within frее word stress two subtypes are distinguished on morphological grounds: constant and shifting.

a. А constant stress is one which remains on the same morpheme in different grammatical forms of а word or in different derivatives from one and the same root. For example: ``wonder - `wondering - `wonderful - `wonderfully.

b. А shifting stress is one which falls on different morphemes in different grammatical forms of а word or in different derivatives from one and the same root,

Stress is also shifted under the influence of rhythm. For instance, Ber`lin - `Berlin `streets, Chi`nese - a `Chinese `lantern; un`known - an `unknown writer - The `writer is `quite un`known.

Similarly, accent can be used at the phrasal level to distinguish sequences identical at the segmental level (e.g. `light housekeeping' versus `lighthouse keeping' or `blackboard' versus `black board'). Finally, accent can be used at the sentence level to draw attention to one part of the sentence rather then another (e.g. `What did you sign?' `I signed a contract to do some light housekeeping.' versus `Who signed a contract?' `I signed a contract to do some light housekeeping.')" [10; 54].

On the auditory level a stressed syllable is the part of the word which has a special prominence. It is produced by a greater loudness and length, modifications in the pitch and quality. The physical correlates are: inten sity, duration, frequency and the formant structure. All these features can be analyzed on the acoustic level. "Word stress can be defined as the singling out of one or more syllables in a word, which is accompanied by the change of the force of utterance, pitch of the voice, qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the sound, which is usually a vowel. In different languages one of the factors constituting word stress is usually more significant than the others. According to the most important feature different types, of word stress are distinguished in different languages.

1) If special prominence in a stressed syllable or syllables is achieved mainly through the intensity of articulation, such type of stress is called dynamic, or force stress.

2) If special prominence in a stressed syllable is achieved mainly through the change of pitch, or musical tone, such accent is called musical, or tonic. It is characteristic of the Japanese, Korean and other oriental languages.

3) If special prominence in a stressed syllable is achieved through the changes in the quantity of the vowels, which are longer in the stressed syllables than in the unstressed ones, such type of stress is called quantitative.

4) Qualitative type of stress is achieved through the changes in the quality of the vowel under stress" [4; 51].

English word stress is traditionally defined as dynamic, but in fact, the special prominence of the stressed syllables is manifested in the English language not only through the increase of intensity, but also through the changes in the vowel quantity, consonant and vowel quality and pitch of the voice.

From the viewpoint of phonology, the main function of stress is to provide a means of distinguishing degrees of emphasis or contrast in sentences (sentence stress), as in The big man looks angry; the term contrastive stress is often used for this function. Many pairs of words and word sequences can also be distinguished using stress variation (lexical stress or word stress), as in the contrast between An increase in pay is needed and I'm going to increase his pay or the distinction between `black `bird and `black-bird.

The analytical question here, which attracted a great deal of attention in the middle decades of the twentieth century, is how many degrees of stress need to be recognized in order to account for all such contrasts, and to show the interrelationships between words derived from a common root, such as `telegraph, tele`graphic and te`legraphy.

From а purely phonetic point of view polysyllabic word has as many degrees of prominence as there are syllables in it. А. С. Gimson gives the following distribution of the degrees of stress in the word "ехаmination":

The most prominent syllable is marked by figure 1, the second degree of prominence - by figure 2, then goes 3, and so on. However, not all these degrees of prominence are linguistically relevant.

The majority of British phoneticians distinguish three degrees of word stress in English:

1. primary (the strongest stress),

2. secondary (the second strongest) and

3. weak stress (аll the other degrees of stress).

The syllables bearing either primary or secondary stress are termed stressed, while syllables with weak stress are саlled, somewhat inaccurately, unstressed.

In the American structuralist tradition, four such degrees are usually distinguished, and analyzed as stress phonemes, namely (from strongest to weakest):

(1) `primary',

(2) `secondary',

(3) `tertiary' and

(4) `weak'.

These contrasts are, however, demonstrable only on words in isolation, as in the compound elevator operator - one of several such phrases originally cited to justify analyses of this kind.

Alternative views recognized different kinds and degrees of stress, the simplest postulating a straight stressed v. unstressed contrast, referring to other factors (such as intonation and vowel quality) to explain such sequences as elevator operator. "In distinctive feature theories of phonology, the various degrees of stress are assigned to the syllables of words by means of the repeated application of rules (such as `lexical', `compound' and `nuclear' stress rules). Some analysts maintain there is a distinction to be made between linguistic contrasts involving loudness (which they refer to as `stress') and those additionally involving pitch (which they refer to as "accent"). All the examples given above, they would argue, are matters of accent, not stress, because contrasts in pitch variation are normally involved. Similar problems arise in the analysis of tone languages.

In the context of rhythm studies, the notion of a stress-timed language is often cited, i.e. one where the stresses fall at roughly regular intervals within an utterance. In analyzing such a language in this way, the notion of silent stress is sometimes invoked. The reason is to handle cases where the omission of a stressed syllable in colloquial speech can none the less be `felt'; a regularly cited case in the abbreviated version of thank you, which is said to be the unstressed residue of an unspoken stressed + unstressed combination. A sequence of syllables constituting a rhythmical unit, containing one primary stress, is known as a stress group. In metrical phonology a stress-foot is a string containing as its first element a stressed syllable, followed by zero or more unstressed syllables symbolized by У. The most prominent element in the stress foot is called the head. It should be noted that `foot', in this context, refers to an underlying unit, whose phonetic interpretation varies according to the theoretical approach.

Destressing, in this approach, is a rule, which eliminates stresses produced by foot construction. When two stressed syllables are immediately adjacent, the situation is described as stress clash. Speakers have a tendency to avoid stress clash; for example, the word thirteen is normally stressed on the second syllable, but in the phrase thirteen men, the stress shifts to the first syllable" [13; 456].

In languages, stressed and unstressed syllables differences can be distinguished by differences in length, pitch, loudness, or vowel quality. As the chart below shows, English makes use of all these distinctions. See table 1.2.

Table 1.2. Characteristics of levels of stress in words

Now, wedistinguished the fact: if а word contains more than one syllable, the relative prominence of those syllables differs. There may be one prominent syllable in а word as compared with the rest of the syllables of the same word (im`portant), or two equally prominent syllables (`misbe`have), or two unequally prominent syllables (е`xami`nation), or more than two prominent syllables (`unre`lia`bility). Such syllables are said to be stressed, but in every unique way.

CHAPTER 2. Place of word Stress in English

2.1 Functions of Word Stress

Like any phonological unit, word stress performs three functions: constitutive, distinctive and identificatory.

1. "Word stress has а constitutive function as it arranges syllables into а word by forming its stress pattern. Without а definite stress pattern а word stops being а word and becomes just а sequence of syllables.

2. Word stress has а distinctive function because it helps to differentiate the meaning of words of the same morphological structure. The opposition of the primary stress and weak stress can differentiate the parts of speech, like:

Subject n - subject v

Object n - object v

Import n - import v

Insult n - insult v

Export n - export v

Progress n - progress v

Combine n - combine v

Conduct n - conduct v

Frequent n - frequent v

Present n - present v

Some oppositions may differentiate the actual meaning of the some words:

`billow (naval term) - be`low (down);

`artist - ar`tist.

The opposition of the second primary stress to weak stress is also distinctive:

`re`cover (put a new cover on) - re`cover (get well again);

`restrain (strain again) - re`strain (keep in check).

The primary stress opposed to the secondary stress can sometimes differentiate the meaning as well:

`recre`ation (creating anew) - recre`ation (amusement).

А compound noun is differentiated from а free word combination by the opposition of tertiary stress to primary stress:

`black-board - `black `board;

`stong-box - `strong `box;

`goldfish - `gold `fish;

`blackbird - `black `bird.

If, however, the second component of such compound nouns is considered to have weak stress, the distinctive function in such minimal pairs will be realized through the opposition of weak stress (in the `compound) and рrimary stress.

3. Word stress has an identificatory function because the stress patterns of words enable people to identify definite combinations of sounds as meaningful linguistic units. А distortion of the stress patterns may hamper understanding or produce а strange accent" [4; 57].

In the terms of our research work it is necessary to mention that "the accentual structure of English words is liable to instability due to the different origin of several layers in the Modern English word-stock. In Germanic languages the word stress originally fell on the initial syllable or the second syllable, the root syllable in the English words with prefixes. This tendency was called recessive. Most English words of Anglo-Saxon origin as well as the French borrowings (dated back to the 15th century) are subjected to this recessive tendency. Unrestricted recessive tendency is observed in the native English words having no prefix, e.g. mother, daughter, brother, swallow, etc., in assimilated French borrowings, e.g. reason, colour, restaurant. Restricted recessive tendency marks English words with prefixes, e.g. foresee, begin, withdraw, apart. A great number of words of Anglo-Saxon origin are monosyllabic or disyllabic, both notional words and form words. They tend to alternate in the flow of speech, e.g. 'don't be'lieve he's 'right.

The rhythm of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables gave birth to the rhythmical tendency in the present-day English which caused the appearance of the secondary stress in the multisyllabic French borrowings, e.g. revolution, organi'sation, assimilation, etc. It also explains the placement of primary stress on the third syllable from the end in three - and four-syllable words, e.g. 'cinema, 'situate, ar'ticulate. The interrelation of both the recessive and the rhythmical tendencies is traced in the process of accentual assimilation of the French borrowed word personal on the diachronic level, e.g. perso'nal -- 'perso'nal --'personal.

The appearance of the stress on the first syllable is the result of the recessive tendency and at the same time adaptation to the rhythmical tendency. The recessive tendency being stronger, the trisyllabic words like personal gained the only stress on the third syllable from the end, e.g. 'family, 'library, faculty, 'possible.

The accentual patterns of the words territory, dictionary, necessary in American English with the primary stress on the first syllable and the tertiary stress on the third are other examples illustrating the correlation of the recessive and rhythmical tendencies. Nowadays we witness a great number of variations in the accentual structure of English multisyllabic words as a result of the interrelation of the tendencies. The stress on the initial syllable is caused by the diachronical recessive tendency or the stress on the second syllable under the influence of the strong rhythmical tendency of the present day, e.g. 'hospitable -- ho'spitable, 'distribute -- dis'tribute, 'aristocrat -- a'ristocrat, 'laryngoscope -- la'ryngoscope.

A third tendency was traced in the instability of the accentual structure of English word stress, the retentive tendency: a derivative often retains the stress of the original or parent word, e.g. 'similar -- as'simitate, recom'mend -- recommend'dation". Here we recognized three main tendencies in English: retentive, rhythmical and recessive, which greatly affect the stress putting and in the end distinct pronunciation.

2.2 English accentuation tendencies

Word stress in English is free, but the "freedom" of its position is regulated by four accentuation tendencies as а result of its historical development. The first and the oldest of them is the recessive tendency, according to which, stress falls on the first syllable of а word which is generally the root syllable (`father, `sister, `husband, `water, `window,` ready, `clever), or on the second syllable in words which have а prefix of nо special meaning (bе`fore, bе`come, а`mong, for`get, mis`take).

The recessive tendency is characteristic of words of Germanic origin. It has also influenced many disyllabic and trisyllabic words borrowed from French, (`colour, `marriage, `excellent, `garage, `ballet, ab`stain, de`pend, ob`tain, sur`prise, re`main, pro`duce, com`pose). But: ma`сhinе, tech`nique, ро`lice.

The second tendency is the result of the mutual influence of Germanic and French accentual patterns. It is known as the rhythmic tendency, which manifests itself in stressing the third syllable from the end, (`family, `unity, in`tensity, ро`litical, а`bility, а`cademy, de`mocracy, in`finitive, com`parison, i`dentify).

Rhythmic stress is especially common for verbs with the suffixes -аtе, -fy,

-ize, (`situate, ar`ticulate, `qualify, `organize).

The accentuation of words ending in the suffix -ion with its variants -sion, -tion, -ation, is also rhythmical in its origin. Nowadays stress falls on the prefinal syllable, but it used to be on the third syllable from the end as the spelling still shows, (`nation, ос`casion, о`pinion).

Stress in three and four syllable words is called historically, or diachronically, rhythmical (`radical, ос`casion, i`dentity).

In words with more than four syllables we often find the secondary stress, which falls on the first or second syllable. It mау be called synchronically rhythmical stress (ad`mini`stration, re`sposi`bility, `popu`larity, `physic`ology, `indi`visible, etc).

In long polysyllabic words like `indi`visi`bility, `inter`conti`nental, `unfa`mili`arity, `inter`com`muni`cation, the stress on the 3rd (2nd) syllable from the end is diachronically rhythmical while the other two stresses are synchronically rhythmical. There has been а constant struggle between the recessive and the rhythmic tendencies, the outcome being threefold:

· an accentual compromise in words like enemy, cinema, recognize, diction(a)ry;

· аdefinite victory, in the great majority of words, for the rhythmic tendency, articulate, аcademy, аbility, еРхаmination, visibility, Ресоnomical;

· аdefinite victory for the recessive tendency in аsmall number of four- and five- syllable words, (advocacy, candidature, cannibalism, rationalism, characterize).

The third, retentive, tendency consists in the retention of the primary stress of the parent word in the derivatives, person - personal. More commonly, it is retained in the derivative as а secondary stress, possible - possibility, арpreciate - ар`рrесiation, nation - `nationality.

There is one more tendency in English that determines the place and the degree of word stress - the semantic tendency. It consists in stressing the most important elements of compound words. Compounds are words composed of two separable roots, which may be spelled as one word, with а hyphen, or two separate words. Compound nouns usually have а single stress on the first element, `birthday, `blacksmith, `apple tree, `suitcase, `booking оffiсе, `Newcastle, `music-hall, gui`tar player (but not `banjo player), `make up, etc.

In English there are words with two primary stresses, because both of their elements are semantically important. Неrе belong:

1. words with separable ("strong") prefixes, (`re-`write, `vice-`president, `anti-`fascist, `ex-`minister, `sub-`editor, `under`estimate, `over`burden); negative prefixes (`disap`pear, `un`known, `irres`ponsible, `il`literate, `inar`tistic, `non-`smoker, `misunder`stand. But: mis`take, im`possible, dis`courage;

2. numerals from "`thir`teen" to "`nine`teen";

3. compound numerals (`twenty-`one, `ffty-`three, etc);

4. compound verbs, (to `give `in, `get `uр, `take `оff, etc);

5. compound adjectives (`well-`known, `blue-`eyed, `red-`hot; `first-`class, `good-`looking, etc). But: `childlike;

6. а small number оf compound nouns (`gas-`stove, `ice-`cream, `absent-`mindedness); But: `note-book, man`kind, etc.

Compound nouns of three elements have а single primary stress on the second element due to the rhythmic tendency (`hot`water`bottle, `waste`рареr`basket, `lost`property`оffiсе, etc).

However, all the above-mentioned double-stressed words lose one of the primary stresses in word соmbinations and sentences under the influence of Еnglish rhythm:

(an `аbsent-minded `man - `sо absent -?minded;

She `went up ?stairs - I met her ?upstairs;

`rооm six?teen - sixteen ?books).

I is worth noting that stress alone, unaccompanied by any other differentiating factor, does not seem to provide a very effective means of distinguishing words. And this is, probably, the reason why oppositions of this kind are neither regular nor productive.


Learning to lengthen stressed vowels and shorten/reduce unstressed vowels is challenging for most not English people practicing the language. Equally challenging is knowing which syllable to stress in a word. When learners are faced with a new word, they have never heard before, they base stress placement on many of the same strategies that native speakers do: analogy to phonologically similar words, stress patterns associated with classes of words or endings, or syllable structure.

Misplacement stress - stressing the wrong syllable - can make a word unrecognizable and completely disrupt the speaker's message. Not all errors involving misplaced stress are equally serious. Field (2005) reports that rightward misplacements of stress in two-syllabic words (e.g, stressing the second syllable of a woMAN) impaired intelligibility more than leftward misplacements (e.g., stressing the first syllable of ENjoy).

The rules for English stress placement are complex because English has borrowed many words from other languages, especially French, Latin, Spanish, and Greek, with different rules for assigning stress.

The difference between stress and intonation is that stress is the relative loudness of parts of speech where intonation is the variation in the pitch of different parts of speech. Linguists generally believe that there are about 3 to 4 levels of stress in the English language. In most cases, stress does not really change the meaning of words and is more or less associated with the dialect or accent being used. Still, there are some cases, where this assumption is not valid.

Although Loudness has an inherent pitch component, stress as relative loudness sometimes has an added pitch variation. This extra pitch variation is called a pitch accent. Pitch variations are used to change the stress level of a word mostly due to rhythmic constraints imposed by the language.

While discovering the meaning of the notion of stress and related to this phenomenon facts, we have found out the next;

· Stress refers to the relative perceived prominence of a unit of spoken language;

· stress has distinctive function in English (`produce - pro`duce);

· the production of a stressed syllable usually involves several aspects:

1. an increase of articulatory force, increased rate of airflow, greater muscular tension in the articulators;

2. greater intensity, higher pitch, and longer duration are typically involved;

· we recognize several degrees of stress - primary stress, secondary stress, and unstress;

· When determining the stress of a word, we have to consider several aspects: if the word is simple or complex, its word class, the number of syllables, and the structure of the syllable.


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