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Is this the correct term for words which are nouns when the first syllable is stressed, and verbs when the second syllable is stressed? Examples include PERmit and perMIT, and CONtract, and conTRACT.

There are frequently-occurring suffixes such as '-ject' and '-tract', but are there any other relevant rules and patterns?

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    Sorry, but as a native BrE speaker I do not recognise this stress pattern. I pronounce permit and contract without any stress whether they be as nouns or verbs. May 30, 2023 at 1:08
  • @PeterJennings — In BrE, does one really sign a CONtract and CONtract a disease? In AmE, we sign a CONtract and conTRACT a disease. We buy a PERmit that perMITs us to park. May 30, 2023 at 2:52
  • @TinfoilHat No I personally would say "sign a contract and contract a disease". However I will concede that some may put stress on either of the syllables. It's probably a matter of personal preference, dialect or opinion. May 30, 2023 at 10:32
  • @TinfoilHat As a native AmE speaker, my experience is that the stress pattern is often so subtle as to be unnoticeable, especially in cases like permit where the noun and verb are very closely related. Contract as in contract a disease is pronounced distinctly, but contract as in sign an agreement to do something is usually indistinguishable from contract as in the agreement signed. May 30, 2023 at 15:09
  • @RyanJensen That other sense of the verb "contract" is different. It is worth noting that stress is phonemic in English; pairs like insight and incite would be homophones if not for the difference in syllable stress.
    – alphabet
    May 30, 2023 at 19:43

1 Answer 1

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Is this the correct term for words which are nouns when the first syllable is stressed, and verbs when the second syllable is stressed?

Yes. Wikipedia has more on initial-stress-derived nouns.

There are far too many of these to identify more specific patterns. That Wikipedia article has a long list that is nowhere close to being complete.

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  • Also as Wikipedia notes, most of these stress patterns vary based on region/dialect; very few are universal rules of English, a non-tonal language. May 30, 2023 at 15:15

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