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Rules of Syllable Stress in spoken english

 
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call-centertrainer



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:50 am    Post subject: Rules of Syllable Stress in spoken english Reply with quote

Dear All,
What are the various rules of syllable-stress in spoken english? Are they uniformly applicable to North American English as well as British English( when it comes to spoken part, off course the rules of grammar are the same so are other aspects of english language)?
Thank You,
Navin Kumar
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Tara B



Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Posts: 126
Location: Sterling, VA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What do you mean by syllable stress? In a word or in a sentence?
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2005 5:00 am    Post subject: No rules.... Reply with quote

Good morning all.

I'd say that the best rule on sylable stress is no rule. (That might get things going here, though we are just a couple of people who comment on pronunciation and we aren't much into fighting about it....jeje)

It depends a lot on why you want to know the "rules".

If your objective is to have a neat set of categories that you can use to pidgeon-hole words, well, that's cross-word doing, maybe wordsmithing. It can be a fun and interesting activity, like filling a notebook with prime numbers for the fun of it, for the exercise it gives your grey matter.

If your reasons for asking about the rules is to have them and apply them to any word and get the right accent on the right sylable, well, I think there are "easier" ways of going about such discovery.

If what you want is to gain a control over the stress patterns that exist in English, then I would suggest forgetting about the rules that might be formulated based on any dialect or regional phenomena and instead would direct you towards singing along with any number of native singers, from Madonna to Arlo Guthrie, the Beatles through Susan Vega. Stress is so much a part of communication, one would have to make the rules on what you mean to say and then apply rules about individual words. And what about those words that change part of speech through the changing of accent?

peace,
revel.
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Tara B



Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Posts: 126
Location: Sterling, VA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am interested in this topic and was hoping Navin would return to his post. . . I guess he forgot about it.

revel said:
Quote:
I'd say that the best rule on sylable stress is no rule.


I agree with you, revel, but when you leave it cut short like that I believe it could be misleading. Like many things in English (spelling, verb forms, etc.) there may be no one "grand unified theory" that makes everything clear, but there are some definite patterns. The problem is there are so many patterns, for so many different situations, that it would help to know a little bit about what particular problem prompted the question in the first place. Which, come to think of it, is what you said:

Quote:
It depends a lot on why you want to know the "rules".


Navin? Are you out there?
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pikawicca



Joined: 09 Jun 2004
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

British and American spoken English differ in many regards. For example, and pertaining to your question about syllable stress, Brits would say "adVERtizment" and yanks would say "adverTIZEment". One of the more confounding and confusing differences is the intonation pattern of yes/no questions. Yanks use a rising intonation pattern at the end of these questions, while the Brits use a falling pattern. This can lead to real communication failure (personally experienced in England), as I frequently "heard" questions asked by Brits as statements of fact. These are just two examples of many.
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neilhrd



Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 10
Location: Nanning, China

PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:17 am    Post subject: Concentrate on essentials Reply with quote

I agree with the earlier posters that trying to teach every variation of stress patterns learners will encounter in different dialects is neither possible nor desirable.

It is my experience that you should concentrate on two areas.

1. Familiarising students with the different stress patterns used in colloquial sentences spoken by native speakers compared with words or phrases used in isolation and spoken at teaching speed. Many students have listening problems when trying to make the step up from purpose designed tapes accompanying textbooks to authentic discourse. Some students cannot even seperate the words in sentences spoken at native speed because the stress patterns they are used to disappear.

2. The difference in stress when the same word is used as a verb or an adjective. For example " I SEPerated the students who were fighting" and "History and Geography are sepERATE subjects". If you don't make students aware of this difference in stress then when they look up new words in the dictionary they will often come up with the wrong usage.
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Brix



Joined: 28 Sep 2005
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2005 5:08 am    Post subject: Re: No rules.... Reply with quote

revel wrote:
Good morning all.

I'd say that the best rule on sylable stress is no rule.


I agree.

English is composed of many foreign words: German, French, latin, Greek, Scandinavian, Spanish, Arabic, and more.

About 30% of English words are of Germanic origin and usually have the word stress on the first syllable. Over time a foreign word's original stress may have been changed as it was used in an English speaking country over time.

Another example:

PHOtograph - photOGrapher - photogrAPHic.

Over time the students know where to correctly put the stress on a particular word.
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darimana



Joined: 01 Oct 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i disagree totally that there is no rule. there are many rules, but of course many exceptions! It's true there are no overriding absolutes, but here are a few rules (for Brit/Oz speech at least. There will be some differences for North American and others)
1) in two syllable words which have both noun and verb forms, the stress usually falls on the first for a noun and the second for a verb SO:
PERfect (n) but perFECT (v)
TRANSport (n) transPORT (v)
and so on and so forth, lots fit this pattern.
there are other rules like this too, get a phonology book to check it out.
2) stress doesn't fall on a syllable with a shwa vowel SO:
OTHer, MATTer, COLour etc (for Oz and Brits who shwa rather than doing the /er/ thing)
3) stress in sentences falls on the words which are important in the utterance. This is usually not the function words, unless for a specific reason. SO:
normally - THAT'S (or that's) my PHONE
BUT That's MY phone (ie not YOUR phone)
of course we could also put the stress on THAT'S (as in THAT's my phone, not THIS one)
or we could put it on all them THAT'S MY PHONE!!! (as in I am really angry about it, maybe someone is running off with it)
so the rule is that the stress can go on any word, but the word/s that it is on is the one that is important for the utterance.

Also, I think its totally wrong to just assume students will pick it up as they go - NOT TRUE. They will pick up some, but all students, especially those with L1s with very different stress rules (eg syllable timed languages where every syllable is given equal length and often stress), will really need their attention to be drawn to all of this. They will also need practise, both controlled and otherwise..............................lots of ways of doing it. try phrases with nonsense sounds eg: DA di DA DA to teach the difference between stressed and unstressed, using markings to show stress - either dots or underlining or capital letters, and lots of fun activities to practise and learn new stress patterns and rules with.
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