Characteristic of English stress. Degrees and typology of word stress
Any word spoken in isolation has at least one prominent syllable. We perceive it as stressed. Stress in the isolated word is termed word stress, stress in connected speech is termed sentence stress. Stress is indicated by placing a stress mark before the stressed syllable.
Stress is defined differently by different authors. B. A. Bogoroditsky, for instance, defined stress as an increase of energy, accompanied by an increase of expiratory and articulatory activity. D.Jones defined stress as the degree of force, which is accompanied by a strong force of exhalation and gives an impression of loudness. H. Sweet also stated that stress is connected with the force of breath. A.C. Gimson also admits that a more prominent syllable is accompanied by pitch changes in the voice, quality and quantity of the accented sounds.
On the auditory level a stressed syllable is the part of the word which has a special prominence. It is "produced by a greater loudness and length, modifications in the pitch and quality. The physical correlates are: intensity, duration, frequency and the formant structure. All these features can be analysed on the acoustic level.
Word stress can be defined as the singling out of one or more syllables in a word, which is accompanied by the change of the force of utterance, pitch of the voice, qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the sound, which is usually a vowel.
In different languages one of the factors constituting word stress is usually more significant than the others. According to the most important feature different types of word stress are distinguished in different languages.
I) If special prominence in a stressed syllable or syllables is achieved mainly through the intensity of articulation, such type of stress is called dynamic, or force stress.
2) If special prominence in a stressed syllable is achieved mainly through the change of pitch, or musical tone, such accent is called musical, or tonic. It is characteristic of the Japanese, Korean and other oriental languages.
3) If special prominence in a stressed syllable is achieved through the changes in the quantity of the vowels, which are longer in the stressed syllables than in the unstressed ones, such type of stress is called quantitative.
4) Qualitative type of stress is achieved through the changes in the quality of the vowel under stress.
English word stress is traditionally defined as dynamic, but in fact, the special prominence of the stressed syllables is manifested in the English language not only through the increase of intensity, but also through the changes in the vowel quantity, consonant and vowel quality and pitch of the voice.
Russian word stress is not only dynamic but mostly quantitative and qualitative. The length of the Russian vowels always depends on the position in a word. The quality of unaccented vowels in Russian may differ greatly from the quality of the same vowels under stress.
All English vowels may occur in accented syllables, the only exception is [ ] , which is never stressed. Syllables with the syllabic /l, m, n/ are never stressed.
Unstressed diphthongs may partially lose their glide quality.
In stressed syllables English stops have complete closure, fricatives have full friction, features of fortis/lenis distinction are clearly defined.
Stress can be characterized as fixed and free. In languages with fixed type of stress the place of stress is always the same. For example in Czech and Slovak the stress regularly falls on the first syllable. In Italian, Welsh, Polish it is on the penultimate syllable.
In English and Russian word-stress is free, that is it may fall on any syllable in a word: on the first ,on the second ,on the third
Stress in English and in Russian is not only free but also shifting. In both languages the place of stress may shift, which helps to differentiate different parts of speech, e.g. 'insult - to in'sult, 'import - to im'port.
Strictly speaking, a polysyllabic word has as many degrees of stress as there are syllables in it. American and English phoneticians give the following pattern of stress distribution in the words examination, opportunity. They mark the strongest syllable with primary accent with the numeral I, then goes 2, 3, etc.
There is some controversy about degrees of the word-stress terminology and about placing the stress marks. Most British phoneticians term the strongest stress primary, the second strongest secondary and all the other degrees of stress weak. The stress marks placed before the stressed syllables indicate simultaneously the places and the points of syllable division.
American descriptivists (B. Bloch, G. Trager) distinguish the following degrees of word-stress: loud ', reduced loud ˆ, medial ̀, weak, which is not indicated. H. A. Gleason defines the degrees of stress as primary', secondary ˆ, tertiarỳ̀ ̀ù, weak ˘
Most English scientists place the stress marks before the stressed syllables and don't mark monosyllabic words,
Some American scientists suggest placing the stress marks above the vowels of the stressed syllable. They place the stress marks even on monosyllabic words.