Word Stress in Different Languages

Word Stress in Different Languages

Different Stress Rules

Word stress has different rules from language to language. While it is extremely regular in some languages, it is less easily predictable in English. For example, the first syllable is almost always stressed in Finnish and Czech. In Polish and Swahili, it is always the syllable before the last one that is stressed. In French, it is the last syllable that is given more prominence.

In English, the placement of word stress is not as regular as in the languages just mentioned. Word stress can be on the first syllable, the second, the third, the last, the one before last, etc. It depends on various factors, including the different parts that form the word.

The Phonetic Characteristics of Stress

As previously mentioned, the characteristics of word stress in English are that the stressed syllables will be slightly louder, longer, and at a higher pitch. Word stress in your language might not be realized phonetically the same way. It may involves all three, or only one or two of these characteristics.

What is the Stress System in your Language?

Whether you are aware of it or not, there may also be stress rules in your own language. If so, do you know them? It is important to know what the main stress rule(s) is/are in your language so that you can be aware of how it influences your intuition and probably affects your usage of word stress in English.

Action from student neededLook either online or in other linguistic references to find out which syllables are stressed in words of more than one syllable in your language.

Example:

In French, the primary word stress usually falls on:

  • the first syllable
  • the second syllable
  • the last syllable
  • the second last syllable
  • Stress is not a prominent feature.
  • Tones are more prominent than stress.
  • Stress is assigned according the number of syllable in a sentence, not according to the word or word structure.
  • Other factors: ____________________

In _____________(name of your native language), the primary word stress usually falls on:

  • the first syllable
  • the second syllable
  • the last syllable
  • the second last syllable
  • Stress is not a prominent feature.
  • Tones are more prominent than stress.
  • Stress is assigned according the number of syllable in a sentence, not according to the word or word structure.
  • Other factors:____________________

 

 

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