Main tendencies in disposition of word-stress in English.
In spite of the fact that word accent in the English stress system is free, there are certain factors that determine the place and different degree of word-stress. V. A. Vassilyev describes them as follows:
(1) Recessive tendency results in placing the word-stress on the initial syllable. It can be of two sub-types: (a) unrestricted recessive accent, which falls on the first syllable: father , mother and (b) restricted recessive accent, which is characterized by placing the word accent on the root of the word if this word has a prefix, which has lost its meaning: become, begin.
(2) Rhythmic tendency results in alternating stressed and unstressed syllables, e.g. pronunciation.
(3) Retentive tendency consists in the retention of the primary accent on the parent word, e.g. person -- personal. More commonly it is retained on the parent word as a secondary accent, e.g. similar - similarity.
(4) Semantic factor.
In compound words the first element is stressed when:
1. compounds are written as one word, e.g. 'appletree, 'bedroom, 'caretaker, 'watchdog, 'downcast;
2. nouns are compounded of a verb and an adverb, e. g. a 'pickup, a 'make-up; but: ,knocker 'up, ,runner 'up.
3. nouns in the possessive case are followed by another noun, e.g. a 'dolls house, 'lady’s maid.
In compound words the second element is stressed when:
1. food items have the first element which is of a material used in manufacturing the whole, e.g. apple 'tart.
2. names of roads, parks and squares are implied, e.g. Ca,thedral 'Road, ,Park 'Place (but Ca'thedral ,street);
3. parts of the house and other buildings are implied, e.g. ,front 'door,
4. adjectives with past participles characterizing persons, e.g .. ,thick-
'skinned, ,cold-'blooded (but 'downcast);
5. compound nouns ending in -er or -ing are followed by adverbs, e.g. ,passer 'by.
Two equal stresses are observed: (a) in composite verbs, e.g .. to 'give 'up, to 'come 'in - emphatic; in speech stress may be neutral: 'give up, 'come in;
(b) in numerals from 13 to 19, e.g. ,fif'teen.
The semantic factor is observed in compounds:
(a) when compound nouns denote a single idea, e. g. 'blacksmith (ęóçíĺö), 'walking stick (ňđîńňü); 'drawing room (ăîńňčííŕ˙);
(b) when the first element of the compound is most important e.g. 'birthday, 'darning ,needle
(c) when the first element of the compound is contrasted with some other word, e. g. 'flute player, not 'violin player;
(d) when a compound is very common and frequently used it may have a single stress, e.g. 'midsummer; 'midnight
The rhythmic tendency is very strong in modem English. Due-to its influence there are such accentual variants as: ‘capitalist, ca’pitalist, ‘hospitable, hos’pitable etc.
In sentences words with two stresses can be pronounced with one single stress under the influence of rhythm, e.g. ,thir'teen, but: Her 'number is 'thirteen ,hundred.
Under the influence of rhythm a shifting of word-stress can be observed in words with secondary stress, e. g.: ,qualifi'cation - 'just 'qualifi'cation (emphatic variant).
The rhythmic stress affects the stress pattern of a great number of words in the English language. This results in the secondary accent, e.g.
,occu ‘pation, ,recommen'dation, etc.
Under the influence of rhythm compounds of three elements may have a strong stress on the second element; e. g. hot 'water bottle, waste 'paper basket (,hot 'water ,bottle, ,waste 'paper ,basket may also occur).