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Chapter V Stress

Vowel Length and Reduction

Pay attention to these words

Potato

chicken

reduction

In every English word of more than one syllable, one syllable is stressed the most. The vowel in the stressed syllable is extra long.

Listen and notice how the vowel in the stressed syllable is extra long:

Canada

China

America

England

Japan

Russia

Circle the stressed syllable in these words. Practice saying them:

Remain

mainly

attractive

principle

Amaze

soapy

atomic

politics

Arrive

reason

arrangement

sensitive

Arrange

training

electric

minister

Explain

sailing

In Chapter II, we learned the concepts of alphabet vowel sounds and relative vowel sounds in one-syllable words and the rules for when to normally use them. Now, we ll see that the same rule can be applied for multi-syllable words:

The two vowel rule for Multi-syllable words: If there are two vowel letters in the STRESSED syllable of a word:

1. the first vowel is pronounced with its alphabet sound.

2. the second vowel is silent.

/eI/

/i/

/aI/

/ou/

/u:/

remain

repeat

alive

soapy

Tuesday

erase

delete

inside

alone

assume

parade

retreat

provide

suppose

introduce

graceful

agreement

entirely

approach

confuse

raisin

reason

priceless

floatable

excuse

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The one vowel rule with multi-syllable words: If there is only one vowel letter in the STRESSED syllable of a word, it is pronounced with its relative vowel sound.

/æ/

/ /

/I/

/a/

/^/

Attract

relative

filling

stopping

Sunday

Practice

sentence

printer

copy

begun

Example

suggest

principle

atomic

thunder

Command

electric

missing

tolerance

punish

Saturday

expensive

predict

operate

abundant

Vowel Clarity

As we ve seen, the vowel in the stressed syllable is extra long. On the other hand, very frequently, the vowels in the unstressed syllables are reduced to a schwa sound.

Travel

pilot

ticket

pencil

advice

Kansas

Circle the vowel in the stressed syllable of each word, then, underline the unstressed vowels:

reason

arrange

listen

record

excuse

American

allow

Irish

exchange

pronounce

African

announce

Longer words also have a vowel that it is not extra long, but is not reduced to a schwa either.

Concentrate

photograph

telephone

pineapple

Stress rules for vowel length and vowel clarity:

1. The vowel in a stressed syllable is extra long and extra clear.

2. The vowel in an unstressed syllable is short and clear.

3. The vowel in a reduced syllable is very short and unclear (schwa).

Practice: Identify the stress in multi-syllable words:

Attitude

secondary

constitution

institute

reconsider

destination

gratitude

California

university

military

permission

understand

From: Gilbert, J. Clear Speech, 2005.

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Can vs. Can t

The contrast between can and can t relates to the vowel clarity.

Can is pronounced with a /k n/

Can t is usually reduced to /kænt/

Practice:

We can t do it. We can do it.

They said they can t be there. They said they can be there.

You can t have mine. You can have mine.

Word Stress Patterns

Identifying Stressed Syllables: Underline the stress syllables in each word:

Hamburguer

extremely

refrigerate

electric

Cookies

accurate

refrigerator

electrical

Pizza

dinner

refrigeration

electrification

Stress rule for two-syllable words: Except for verbs, two-syllable words are usually stressed on the first syllable.

Lemon

rocket

Susan

Jacket

open

Michael

Older

student

Adam

Winter

April

Alice

Stress Rules for Suffixes

All the suffixes below have the same stress pattern. Can you guess what it is?

-

ic

- ical

- ial

- ian

Scientific

identical

commercial

technician

Analytic

theoretical

societal

politician

-

ify

- ogy

- ity

- graphy

Solidify

Biology

clarity

geography

Liquefy

Geology

gravity

biography

-

ious

- eous

- ition

-sion

Mysterious

gorgeous

distribution

extension

Serious

erroneous

contribution

confusion

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- ically

- ize

Strategically

initialize

Logistically

standardize

Stress rule : When the suffixes ic, - ical, - ial, - ian, - ify, - ogy, - ity, - graphy, - ious eous, - ition, -sion, - ically, - ialize are added to words, stress usually falls on the syllable just before the suffix.

-ee

-eer

-ese

-ique

Employee

engineer

Chinese

Technique

Refugee

career

Japanese

unique

Stress rule : When the suffixes ee, -eer, -ese, -ique are added to words, stress usually falls on the syllable with the suffix.

The suffix - ate

Now compare these two columns:

Verb /eI/

Noun / /

To certificate

a certificate of completion

To duplicate

a duplicate invoice

To estimate

an estimate

To separate

a separate copy

To graduate

graduate school

In this case, the pronunciation of the verb is different from the pronunciation and the stress of the noun. The verb has primary and secondary stress, whereas the noun has only primary stress, and the rest to the word is reduced.

PRACTICE: Fill in the blanks with the words for the list. Check their pronunciation:

1- (duplicate) I don t know whether he wants the original or the

If he wants a

, I ll have to

the original.

2 (associate) After discussing the case with my associate, I have decided not to associate with the man.

3 (graduate) When you school?

from college, do you want to go to

4 (estimate) I asked the mechanic to was much too high.

the cost of fixing the car, but his

From: Lane, Linda. Basics in Pronunciation, 1997.

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Phrasal verbs vs. Nouns

Stress can change according to the part of the speech the words belong to. Some two- word verbs have their noun counterparts. Pay attention to the stress pattern:

Noun

A setup (an arrangement)

A holdup (a robbery)

A tryout (a test, an audition)

A printout (a printed piece of paper)

A takeout (an order to take out)

A dropout (a quitter)

Phrasal Verb to set up (to arrange) to hold up (to stop something) to try out (to test something or someone) to print out (to print something) to take out (to remove from a place) to drop out (to quit)

Two syllable nouns vs. verbs

When a two syllable word can be used as a noun or a verb, the verb form is usually stressed on the second syllable.

Noun

Verb

Present

Present

Record

Record

Rebel

Rebel

Insult

Insult

Object

Object

Transport

Transport

Compound Nouns Stress Rules

Compound nouns: two nouns used together to convey one meaning. Sometimes compound nouns can be written as one or two words.

Case 1: Stress Falls in the First Noun

Noun + noun (1 word/ a set phrase)

Noun + noun (2 words)

Blackboard

Air conditioner

Deadline

Alarm Clock

Classroom

Washing machine

Boyfriend

Nail Polish

Streets, Nationalities of food, Nationalities of people Fifth Street, Indian food, Swedish woman

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Numbers

Thirty

Sixty

Case 2: Stress falls in the second part

Reflexive Pronouns

Prefix + verb

Myself

Outrun

Themselves

Overlook

Ourselves

Withdraw

Themselves

Overhear

Numbers

Adjectives

Thirteen

Bad-tempered

Sixteen

Old-Fashioned

Fourteen

Descriptive Adjectives, Names of Places, Institutions, Parks Large table, Los Angeles, Discovery Museum, Central Park

Personal Names, Titles, Personal Pronouns Mary Jane, Bilingual Receptionist, My book

Initials, Chemical Compounds, Colors LA, carbon monoxide, light green

Numbers, Percent, Dollar 33, 20 percent, 30 dollars

Case 3: Stress Falls in Both Words

Components, Ingredients, Possessives Silk skirt, cherry pie, King s ransom

Practice: Look at the chart and mark the stress

Set phrases

Descriptions

Materials and possessives

A

light bulb

A light bulb

A glass bulb

The White house

A white house

A wooden house

A spider web

A sticky web

Charlotte s web

A steak knife

A sharp knife

A steel knife

A wrist watch

A nice watch

A gold watch

A machine gun

A toy gun

A metal gun

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More Practice:

Underline the element that should be stressed

a hotdog

a locked door

a greenhouse

a hot dog

although

a green house

a baby blanket

also

a green thumb

a baby s blanket

nobody

a sugar bowl

a baby alligator

no body

a wooden bowl

a one-way street

a parking ticket

a mixing bowl

a blackbird

store

a large bowl

a black bird

a convenient store

to pick up

a glass door

a convenience

a pick-up truck

Repeat the sentences below pronouncing the correct stress pattern:

a) pay back

b) paycheck

c) newspaper

d) checkbook

e) give up

f) drop off

g) project

h) Boyfriend

i) thirty

She ll pay me back tomorrow.

On Monday morning I ll get my paycheck.

Thomas reads the newspaper every day.

My checkbook has disappeared.

You really need to give up smoking.

They always drop their kids off at 7:00 am.

Myra needs to project the sales forecast.

Who s that? It s her new boyfriend.

How much is that? It s thirty dollars.

Source: Picasso, Renata. Improving Pronunciation, 2002.

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