Stress is defined as using more more muscular energy while articulating the words. When a word or a syllable in word is produced louder, more lenghty, with higher pitch or with more quality, it will be perceived as stressed. The prominence makes some syllables be perceived as stressed. Words including long vowels and diphthongs or ending with more than 1 consonant are stronger, heavier and stressed.
Feet or Foot is another prominent item which should be considered when stress is being discussed. Words are made up of rhythmic units called feet and these comprise one or more syllables. Feet represent the rhythmic structure of the word. In every foot, one of the syllables is more prominent or stronger than the others and it is called the strong syllable. It is the head of the syllable. The other syllables in the foot are the weak syllables. English is a left side dominant language. It is a property of English that the leftmost branch is always associated with a full vowel. All reduced vowels will be in the nucleus of the right-handed syllables.
English stress is dependant on origin of words and the rhythmic factors ( heavy-light syllables). Words borrowed from Latin and other donor languages are stressed differently. In the case of Anglo-Saxon words the first syllable of the root is stressed. For example, in the following words the stress is in the first syllable, “blossom, body, holy, never, unpack.”
What are the ways in Determining the main stress in English? The steps to be taken in this process are, first:
1)remove inflectional suffixes and stress neutral suffixes,
2)if the word has two syllables, stress the first one.
The floowing words are examples for this two step process: “donkey, exit, finger, bonus.”
3)If the words are of three syllables or more, determine whether the penult (the next to last syllable in a word ) is heavy or light. Following are examples of heavy and light syllables.
“Recruitment, entailment, detergent, escapist (heavy)
Average, bungalow, regiment, resolute (light)”
4)If the penult is heavy, stress it.
A, E, I,O,U and diphtong are long vowels. Spacious, spicy, ocean, rejoice are examples for this process.
5) If the penult is light, stress the antepenult.
As seen in “ACtivate, MULtiply, reVItalize, VACcinate.”
(English Words, 2001)
Main stress falls on the penultimate syllable if it has a long vowel or is closed by a consonant; otherwise, main stress falls on the antepenultimate (the 3rd syllable of a word counting back from the end ) syllable.
The location of the stress depends on the distribution of heavy syllables, as well as location in the word. So, English makes distinction between heavy (long vowels, more prominent) and light (short vowels) syllables. Foot with one heavy syllable is stressed, however a foot with one light syllable is not stressed. (Dresher, B. E. 1999)
The affixes which change the word stress are various, some examples are -ain(entertain), -ee(refugee,trainee), -ese(Portugese, Japanese), -ique(unique), -ette(cigarette,laundrette), -esque(picturesque), -ial(proverbial), -ic(climatic), -ion(perfection), -ive(reflexive), -cal (political), -ity(complexity), -aire(millionaire), -eer(mountaineer), -ian(Italian), -et(ballet),
On the other hand, there are some other affixes which don’t effect the distribution of stress, they are -able, -age, -al, -ful, -en, -ish, -ish, -like, -less, -ment, -wise, -y, -hood, -ship, -ness, -ing, -our etc.