English Stress Pattern. Episode 2

English Stress Pattern. Episode 2

Having this backdrop of the degree of stress, it behooves us to move further to the operational level of stress. At the operational level, we have WORD and SENTENCE stress.

By word stress we mean the degree of force exerted in the articulation of successive syllables in a word. Every word has a fixed distribution; if stress changes, meaning might change. Certain rules apply to placement of stress:

1. A one syllabic word is stressed: Since we cannot break a one word syllable into bits, we stress all the sounds, e.g. back, cannot be broken into 'ba' & 'ck', so we stress the whole word 'back.'

2. A bisyllabic (two syllable) word is usually stressed on the first syllable except the first syllable is a prefix,
e.g. Doctor (DOCtor) is stressed on the first syllable but 'disprove' is stressed on the second syllable because the first is a prefix, so it becomes (disPROVE).

Compound words can be either be compound noun or compound verb. The stress pattern of words differs based on the category they fall into:

Compound words: These are words made up of two or more Individual words fused together to form one.

Compound nouns.....compound words usually have their stress on the first element while compound verbs have their stress on the second element.
Playground .......PLAYground......CN
Blackbird ..........BLACKbird.........CN
Outride .............outRIDE.............. CV

Numbers ending with 'teen' are stressed on the last syllable while those ending with 'ty' are stressed on the first syllable.
Examples: Fifteen .......fifTEEN
                  Fifty.......    FIFty

I bet a number of Nigerian speakers of English do not know we have shifting stress, often times we see a particular word as a noun and also a verb, most people find it difficult to differentiate the difference except in usage. In fact, some pronounce such words as a verb whereas it ought to be a noun. The distinguishing factor is just the placement of stress. When the word is a noun the stress is placed on the first syllable whereas on the second syllable when it is a verb.
Conduct.........CONduct (N) conDUCT (V)
Refuse ..........REfuse (N).  ReFUSE (V)
Convert..........CONvert (N) conVERT(V)

For those conversant with transcription, u will notice as the stress changes, the transcription also changes as syllables that formerly had strong forms of a sound will be reduced to a weakly stressed syllable represented by a schwa sound.