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Stress, Intonation and

Rhythm

Syllable
Identification of a Syllable:

We have learnt that the sound system of a


language consists of vowel and consonant sounds.
Now, let us turn our attention to the Syllable,
which is a unit higher than a sound in the sound
system of a language.

What is a Syllable?

A syllable is a group of one or more sounds with the vowel sound as its
essential part. Words are made of one or more syllables. For example,
texts is one syllable, but textbooks is made up of two syllables.
Consider the word America. It consists of four syllables: a-me-ri-ca.
Usually, the number of vowel sounds in a word is an indication of the
number of syllables it has. It is useful to learn the number of syllables a
word is made of to know the correct pronunciation of a word.
For instance, the difference in pronunciation between quite and quiet is
in the extra syllable that quiet has.

Activity A:
Words with
Words with
Words with
Words with
one syllable
two syllables
three syllables
four syllables
------------------------------------------------------------------------------good
an.swer
con.vic.tion
al.ter.na.tive
knife
ca.rry
des.ti.ny
a.vai.la.ble
mode
ex.tent
in.flu.ence
ma.chi.ne.ry
light
mon.soon
he.mis.phere
pe.ti.tion.er

Stress
Every syllable usually has a vowel sound, but it may or may
not have a consonant sound on either side of it. So, a vowel
is, in most cases, the nucleus of the syllable. In most of the
dictionaries, syllables are separated by placing a hyphen in
orthography (spelling) and by placing a dot between them in
the phonetic transription. E.g. ma-ster / m
.st /
The unit syllable forms the basis for stress. In any word, if
the syllables are more than one, only one syllable is
prominent or louder than the rest of the syllables. All the
syllables are not said with the same loudness or force. Take
the example, gi-gan-tic. When it is pronounced in the way
it should be, the syllable gan is heard with more force than
the other two syllables.
In the dictionary, you can see a vertical line on the prominent
syllable gi-gan-tic. This is called the stressed syllable.

The use of Stress in speech helps us both deliver


and understand meaning in longer utterances and
it is closely linked with intonation. Although we
will inevitably mention intonation, here we will
concentrate on which syllables are stressed and
why. There are certain rules governing Stress
and there are two kinds of Stress. They are:
Word Stress
Sentence Stress

Rules of Stress or Stress


Patterns
Rule 1:
In words with weak prefixes, the stress should be
on the root.
Practice 1:
a bove
a cross
ac claim
a part

be
be
be
be

fore
cause
neath
come

Rule 2:
In disyllabic nouns or adjectives, the first syllable is
stressed.
Practice 2:

campus
colour
center
duty

country
factor
fiction
motion

Rule 3:
In disyllabic verbs, the second syllable is stressed.
Practice 3:
per form
sus pect

con test
con trol

re fuse
ren der

per mit
for get

Rule 4:
If a compound word is a noun, a combination of a
noun and another noun (noun+noun) or an
adjective and a noun (adj+noun), the stress will be
on the first part.
Practice 4:
pinpoint palmtop
backdoor
counterpart
classroom
bedpost
greenhouse
railway

Rule 5:
If a compound word is an adjective or a
combination of an adjective and the past participle
of a verb (adj+p.p), the last part is stressed.
Practice 5:
clear-headed
out-bound
far-sighted
deep-rooted

short-tempered
old-fashioned
hard-hearted
close-fisted

Rule 6:
If a compound word is a verb or a combination of a
preposition and a verb (prep+verb), the last part is
stressed.
Practice 6:
over power
underrate
outperform
interrelate

understand
drawback
underplay
overreact

Rule 7:
In phrasal verbs, the particles are stressed.
Practice 7:
turnof
getover
lookafter
passby

ruleout
setof
breakdown
fallthrough

Rule 8:
Words ending with ic, -ical, -ically, -ious, -ial, and
ially have stress on the syllable preceding the suffix.
Practice 8:
pathetic mechanically
energetic
financial
economical
confidential
electrical
financially

Rule 9:
Words ending with tion, -cian, and sion have
stress on the penultimate , i.e. last but one,
syllable.
Practice 9:
dramatization
modernization
magician
electrician

invasion
imagination
situation
congestion

Rule 10:
Words ending with phy, -gy, -try, -cy, -fy, -al, and
ify have accent on the third syllable from the end.
Practice 10:
stenography
photography
technology
chronology

geometry
complacency
accuracy
electricity

Rule 11:
Words ending with meter will have stress on
the last syllable before meter.
Practice 11:
kilometer
speedometer
thermometer
barometer
centimeter

Rule 12:
Inflectional suffixes s, -es, -d, -ed, -ing, and derivational
suffixes age ance, -er, -ess, -ful, -hood, -ice, -ish, ive,
-less,
-ly, -ment, -ness,, -or, -ship ter, and zen do not normally
afect the stress pattern.
Practice 12:
term
terms
demanddemanded
bond
bondage
dear
dearer
beauty beautiful
coward cowardice

bus busses
rise rising
accept
acceptance
bitter
bitterness
man manhood

Intonation
What is intonation?
The term intonation refers to the way the voice
goes up and down in pitch when we are
speaking. It is a fundamental part of the way we
express our own thoughts and it enables us to
understand those of others.

English is a language very diferent from a language


like Telugu. When you speak a word in Telugu, you
pronounce equally every sound it contains and the
listener hears every sound pronounced equally. For
instance when you say abhiprayam, you
pronounce all the seven sounds equally and the
listener hears all the seven sounds equally. So,
when you speak words in Telugu, your voice doesnt
rise and fall; its at the same level from the first
sound to the last. But, when you say opinion, you
should not speak all the sounds equally, but
pronounce p louder than the other sounds and the
listener will hear p louder than others.

Utterances are made of syllables and


the syllables where the main pitch
movement in the utterance occurs
are called tonic syllables. Based on
this, there are three kinds of tones:
1. Falling tone
2. Rising tone, and
3. Falling-rising tone

Rules of Intonation

There are certain rules of intonation which help


the students to follow a falling tone, rising tone or
a falling-rising rone.

Rule 01:
The falling tone is used in four kinds of situations.
Declarative or ordinary statements made without
any implications.
Practice 01:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Glad to see you


He never drives fast.
It happens everyday.
The weather today is good.
I am always ready to help you.

Rule 02:
Questions beginning with a question word.
Practice 02:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Who are they?


When did you do it?
How are you today?
What were you doing there?

Rule 03:
Commands
Practice 03:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Do it.
Shut up.
Shut the door.
Never come here.
Throw that.

Rule 04:
Exclamations
Practice 04:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What a car!
How boring!
How beautiful it it!
How horrible!
What a da!

Rule 05:
The rising tone is used in five kinds of situations.
In incomplete utterances, often the first part of
the sentence falls.
Practice 05:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Luckily/ he escaped.
Despite being careful,/ she fell down
Nevertheless/ we did it.
However/ she finally gave in.
In spite of heavy rains/ weve reached.

Rule 06:
Questions that ask for Yes/No answer.
Practice 06:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Can you do it?


Is it possible?
Did you go there?
Do you cook?
Isnt it hot?

Rule 07:
Polite request
Practice 07:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

May I help you?


Could you please switch it of?
Please take your seat.
Would you mind going with me.
Could you please repeat your name?

Rule 08:
Statements beginning with I think.
Practice 08:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

I
I
I
I
I

think
think
think
think
think

it will rain today.


he has come.
it is right.
shes home.
shell win.

Rule 09:
Statements expressing doubt and uncertainty.
Practice 09:
1. Is that true?
2. Is it easy?

3. Is that new?
4. Is she correct?
5. Is it on time?

Rule 10:
The falling-rising tone.
When there are more than one tone groups, its
always possible that they have diferent tones.
Practice 10:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

He has asked me to do this, /but is it possible?


She dances really well, /on the stage?
You finished first, / but did you do well?
She studies well, / but does she sing?
You played well, but did you win?

Rule 11:
When we tag a question to a statement, both the
statement and the tag should dbe in a falling
tone.
Practice 11:
1. She cooks well, doesnt she?
2. We can do it today, cant we?
3. Your office is in the U.S., isnt it?

4. You dont smoke, do you?


5. It is not easy, is it?

Rhythm
Rhythm is the pattern in which the
stressed and unstressed syllables are
pronounced in a sentence so that the
language becomes easier and
undertandable. The important wods which
give us the content are called content
words. A noun, verb, adjective etc., are
content words. Preposition, adverb,
articles are all non-content words. Content
words are stressed and non-content words
are unstressed.

To make it easier to understand Rhythm, we will


use (1) for an unstressed syllable and (2) for a
stressed syllable.
Practice 1 Pattern:2-1:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Do it.
Mind it.
Tell him.
Call me
Give it
Shut it

Practice 02 Pattern 2-1-1:


In this stress pattern, well see how the accent
should be on the tonic syllable only. Stress on the
tonic syllable will make the meaning of the
sentence clear.
1. Talk to me.

2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Give me that.
Look at it.
Stop it there.
Good to see.
More to do.

Practice 03 Pattern 2-1-1-1:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Give that to me.


Tell it to him.
Take it from there.
Bring it to me.
Hide it from her.
Take down the hem.

Practice 04 Pattern 1-2-1-2:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Lets us do it fast.
Ive come to know.
Its hard to break.
Shes still to move.
Ive felt the pain.
Shes called me now.

Practice 05 Pattern 2-1-1-2:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Turn on the fan.


Answer the call.
Call it a day.
Keep to the left.
Right at the top.
Play it to win.

Practice 06 - Pattern 1-2-1-1-2:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Ill ask him to wait.


He sent me a book
Its never the end.
The burger is very hot.
She gave me a look.
Youve come to a point.

Practice 07 Pattern 1-2-1-2-1:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

You have to do it.


She has to mind it.
The man can give it.
Hes told to call me.
I want to tell hium.
The candle is burnt out.

Practice 08 Pattern 1-2-1-1-2-1:


1. He gave me a chocolate.

2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

That man is a master.


Its really a mystery.
Hes quite a bit serious.
Behave as a scholar.
Hes going to be smarter.

Practice 09 Pattern 1-2-1-2-1-2:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

I want to do it right.
He studied really hard
Hes going back to play.
Its never good to smoke.
Abort the plan today.
She left today for Rome.

Practice 10 Pattern 2-1-1-1-2-1:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Why are you insulting?


What have you discovered?
Anyone can now do it.
Take it as a present.
Fill it with the right oil.
Can I do it later?

Practice 11 Pattern 1-1-2-1-1-1-2:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

He was telling it to me.


He was fooling all around.
He has never been examined.
Hell recieve it on the tenth.
Shes selecting it herself.

Practice 12 Pattern 1-2-1-1-1-1-2:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Hes ofering her a seat.


Im taking all the amount.
The matter has to be good.
Its difficult to remove.
Ill manage it as I had.
Shes down with a very bad cold.

Practice 13 Pattern 2-1-1-2-1-1-2-1-1:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Where are the books that Ive sent?


Ask the director to talk to me.
How could the boy have a look at it?
Jack is the one who can stop it there?
Flower in the garden is good to see.

Practice 14 Pattern 1-2-1-1-2-1-1-2-1-1-1:


1. I told him to buy one and give that to me.
2. Remember to ask him to hide it from her.
3. Hes come to a standard to take it from there.
4. The man has been ordered to bring it to me.
5. He sold her the painting and asked her to
pay.
6. He climbed the low wall and fell right in the
mud.