I read the definition for epenthesis as the insertion or development of a sound or letter in the body of a word. I am hearing media pronounce the word 'student' with an accent on the second syllable. Does this mispronunciation of stu-dent qualify as being an example of epenthesis?


I have never seen the word epenthesis being used to describe a change in the position of stress without the insertion of any segmental sound. When I Googled the terms "epenthesis stress," all of the results seemed to be talking about epenthesis that inserts a vowel, which may alter the stress. None of them seem to be talking about a simple change in the position of stress. So I would say "stu-ˈDENT" with the accent on the second syllable does not qualify as an example of epenthesis.

The normal term for that seems to just be "stress shift," which is used for example in the following article: "Gradience in an abrupt change: Stress shift in English disyllabic noun-verb pairs," Betty S. Phillips. If you want to characterize it as a mistake, you can say someone is "putting the stress on the wrong syllable."

A Latin root that is often used in words relating to stress is "ton-" (as in the term pretonic "preceding the stressed syllable") but I don't know of any single word based on this root that refers to this phenomenon.

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You are referring to a "change of stress in the pronouciation" of the term "student",

Epenthesis has different implications and refers to:

  • In phonology, epenthesis (/əˈpɛnθəsɪs/; Greek: ἐπένθεσις) means the addition of one or more sounds to a word, especially to the interior of a word. The word epenthesis comes from epi "in addition to" and en "in" and thesis "putting".

  • Epenthesis may be divided into two types: excrescence, for the addition of a consonant, and anaptyxis (/ˌænæpˈtɪksᵻs/; from Greek: ἀνάπτυξις; also svarabhakti from Sanskrit) for the addition of a vowel

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