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132

PLEASE NOTE: English is not a tonal language like Cantonese, so I’m going to assume you are simply talking about stress, a phonemic property of English words which speakers of tonal languages may hear in terms of tones. Exactly why awry sounds like the beginning of “a rye sandwich” with the stress on the second syllable is a longer story than just that ...


31

Literacy, pens, paper, the printing press. A written culture has different restrictions than an oral culture dependant on ease of repetition from memory. According to the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center: Beowulf is the oldest narrative poem in the English language, embodying historical traditions that go back to actual events and ...


29

Who says we don't? Have you listened to rap or hip-hop lately? Anglo-Saxon poetry like Beowulf was heavily beat-based and while it didn't involve rhyme it used alliteration that gave similar aural cues. The lines were recited four stressed beats to a line with a caesura dividing it into two-beat groups, and rhythm was important. I have long considered Anglo-...


19

I believe it depends very much on where the speaker needs to place the emphasis. Q. Where did you say you put the white elephant? A. I put it on the table. Q. I thought the charity box was under the table. It's not here. A. I told you I put it on the table. Q. How did that strange letter come to be on the table? A. I put it on the table. Q.Who put ...


15

It is possible to put the main stress on the first syllable of police in some varieties of English. When the first syllable of police is stressed, the vowel is not a schwa. It is the "goat" vowel or "long o" sound: /ˈpolis/ or /ˈpoʊlis/ (both of these phonemic transcriptions are identical). There is no way to classify this pronunciation as indisputably "...


11

A. They sell all kinds of toys in here. Pick something and I'll buy it for you. B. I don't like anything round. A. Well, what would you like then? B. Something red. A. Okay, something red, but what would you like? B. I hate that bear. A. I don't want to know what you hate. What would you like? B. Jane likes drawing. A. What would you like? ...


11

Shifting second-syllable stress to the first syllable is characteristic of Southern (US) accents. Indeed, it's a trope, reaching #59 on the Stuff Southern People Like blog: How to Sound Southern: Accent the First Syllable … HALLoween, THANKSgiving, TEEvee, UMbrella, and JUly The THANKSgiving pronunciation is also covered in a Language Log post which ...


10

Personally, I would say "ind-ent" for the noun, and "ind-ent" for the verb. Ind-ent for the noun is pretty much universal. For the verb, it varies from person to person. I don't perceive a geographical pattern.


10

Tom Bombadil speaks in accentual verse with four feet per line. I don't believe accentual verse was used in Latin, although (according to the linked Wikipedia article) it was common in Germany, Scandinavia, Iceland and Britain. According to Wikipedia: Accentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per line regardless of the number of syllables that are ...


8

They have the same etymologic origins. I thought this was a good explanation of why they're pronounced differently. "Mispronounced, mangled, changed" http://alientongues.com/?p=316 I am always on the lookout for rec-ord vs. re-cord when I'm proofreading (veterinary copy). The word is inevitably hyphenated as re-cord when the meaning is rec-ord. Your ...


8

It is, unfortunately, an important aspect of the English language, and there is, unfortunately, no hard-and-fast rule on the subject. We need stress to differentiate between words like "record" (the noun) and "record" (the verb). Improper stress will also make you sound absolutely ridiculous to the average native English speaker. Depending on the severity of ...


8

For precisely the same reason as UK speakers often drop an unstressed syllable in words like medicine and secretary, making those come out as though they were spelt “medcine” and “secretry” instead. It is because we sometimes reduce unstressed syllables not just to ambiguity, but to oblivion. Edit: Barrie notes in a comment that the OED allows for only ...


8

This is what Sir Ernest Gowers has to say in "Fowler's Modern English Usage" (Oxford 1965) under the heading noun and verb accent: When there is both noun and verb work to be done by a word, and the plan of forming a noun from the verb, or a verb from the noun, by adding a formative suffix (as in stealth from steal) is not followed, then one word ...


8

There are several which don't follow the stress pattern: intercept interchange overcount / undercount Here are a couple where the pronunciation between the verb and noun is consistently different: attribute (noun attribute; verb attribute) envelope (noun envelope; verb envelope), though the verb is usually spelt without the final "e". I suppose "...


8

This specific question can be answered by any dictionary. However, there is a more general question underlying it which may merit closer attention, and that is how pretty much all two-letter letter-pairs in English place the stress on the second letter not on the first. A.D., B.C. B.A., B.S., M.S. U.S., U.K. P.S., M.C., D.T., A.I., G.I., O.D. This ...


7

Because two-syllable nouns tend to acquire first-syllable accents in English, while two-syllable verbs acquire second-syllable accents. Consider: present/present desert/desert conflict/conflict record/record. See this Wikipedia page about the phenomenon, which includes a list of over 100 words which do this. I remember noticing some words for which this ...


7

I think the Norman Conquest might have had something to do with it. After 1066 Norman French was the prestige language in England for two or three centuries and was a huge influence on the subsequent development of English. It would have been surprising if it had not brought French literary practice with it. As far as I know, there is no tradition of ...


7

Yes, there is a connection between losing one phonemic property and gaining another. Most approaches to phonology conceptualize words as having double lives: on the one hand, they are made of a particular sound sequence which you have to pronounce correctly; on the other hand, the sounds in sequences are only recognized as discrete parts because they ...


7

Some people do use /ɪ/ in "hundred", according to the American Heritage Dictionary (hŭnʹdrĭd.) But it's the only dictionary I've found that says this. (According to snailplane, the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary also records this as a possible pronunciation—I don't have access to this, so I can't say any more about that.) As John Lawler says, unstressed ...


6

In general, it appears that "rhythm" of speech in one form or another improves intelligibility(*). Syllable "stress"— making particular syllables locally prominent in some way compared to other syllables — is one component of rhythm. It may not be strictly a necessary feature of language, but it appears to be a perceptually useful feature. It is ...


6

John Wells, formerly of University College London, highlights the phenomenon of variable stress: There are plenty of words in English that seem to change their stress depending on the phonetic context. Typical examples are afternoon, unknown, sixteen. We say the 'late after'noon but an 'afternoon 'nap, 'quite un'known but an 'unknown as'sailant, '...


6

It's most commonly three fifteen /ˈθri fɪfˈtin/. In the latter word, the stress is on teen. The other two choices are also fine, with past somewhat more common than after. The article a isn't always included.


6

The OED has accent on com for both noun and adjective, but accent on plex for verb. What verb, you ask. Well, it is obsolete or rare except in chemistry, where it means "form a complex with". These hormones must complex with specific receptors in order to... Here in America, I have heard the plex accent version on occasion. But nothing as simple as ...


6

Pity Unless you accept the loss of an i, the best such word is pity. That’s because in that case Latin pietās, pietātem was whittled away till it had no antepenult left to it, and so you have no chance to stress something that isn’t there. :) The version that didn’t get quite so pared down became piety, which is stressed antepenultimately like most of the ...


6

(Note: It's actually a matter of some debate whether there really exist "syllable-timed" and "stress-timed" languages; but I think this question is answerable within its premise that there do, and that English is "stress-timed" — in fact, I think the answer is fairly similar whether or not that's the case — so I'll give it a shot.) Unstressed ...


5

The way I hear these and pronounce them myself, I'd surmise that the accent is an end-marker.


5

All the number words for 13–19 are normally stressed on the first syllable (or none at all), but can be stressed on the second syllable for emphasis or contrast. It really depends on the sentence. I’ve got twelve. You’ve got thirˈteen. He’s got ˈfifteen. He’ll turn eighˈteen on his next birthday. I’ll shoot ˈeighteen holes today, not just ˈthirteen ...


5

Examples of what you are talking about are: import, export, present, contract, object, refund, increase, decrease. All of them are nouns when the first syllable is stressed and verbs when the stress is on the second syllable. "Control" has only one stress as far as I know.


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