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Nature of word stress

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. In general, the syllable or syllables which are uttered with more prominence than the other syllables of the word are said to be stressed or accented. According to A.C. Gimson, the effect of prominence is achieved by any or all of four factors: force, tone, length and vowel colour.

Types of word stress:


1) 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. The dynamic stress implies greater force with which the syllable is pronounced.

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. The musical word stress is observed in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese 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 Russian vowels always depends on the position in a word.


Word stress in a language performs three functions.

1. Word stress constitutes a word, it organizes the syllables of a word into a language unit having a definite accentual structure, that is a pattern of relationship among the syllables; a word does not exist without the word stress Thus the word stress performs the constitutive function. Sound continuum becomes a phrase when it is divided into units organized by word stress into words.

2. Word stress alone is capable of differentiating the meaning of words or their forms, thus performing its distinctive function. The accentual patterns of words or the degrees of word stress and their positions form oppositions, e.g. 'import im'port, 'billow below.

3. Word stress enables a person to identify a succession of syllables as a definite accentual pattern of a word. This function of word stress is known as identificatory (or recognitive). Correct accentuation helps the listener to make the process of communication easier, whereas the distorted accentual pattern of words, misplaced word stresses prevent normal understanding.



Date: 2016-01-03; view: 1118

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