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Re: OT - Syllabic Stress in English and Russian

As a native Russian speaker, I can assert that there are no obvious
rules where to put the stress. It seems to be quite random, although I
have not conducted any systematic study of that question. Here is a
simple example, relating to last names.  There are two quite common last
names in Russia, Sakharov and Zakharov. The difference is in only one
letter. However, Sakharov has the stress on the first syllable while
Zakharov on the second. The explanation seems to be that they stem from
words sakhar (meaning sugar) wich has the stress on the first syllable,
and Zakhar which is a first name and has the stress on the second
syllable. Furthermore, there are many examples of words which have
different meaning depending on the stress. For example "zamok" with the
stress on the first syllable means castle, but the same word with the
strress on the second syllable means lock. There are last names which
have different stress depending on the social status of the name's
bearer. For example one of the most common Russian last names is
Ivanov.  If that name's bearer was a peasant or a middle-class merchant,
it would have the stress on the last syllable.  However, if he belonged
to nobility, the stress would be on the middle syllable. Why? No idea.
Cheers, Mark

Dennis wrote:

>         One usually hears that in both English and Russian
> there is no rule for where to place the syllabic
> stress, that it has to be learned with each word, and
> in Russian it shifts with different declensional and
> conjugational forms.
>         However, I've read that this is not true in either
> case.  There are rules; they just depend on whether a
> noun or verb is involved.  I read this in Frederick
> Newmeyer's *Linguistic Theory in America*, 2nd ed. a
> long time ago.  He just mentioned it in passing and
> gave a reference.  I just got the book again and
> skimmed it, but could not find it.  Can anyone point me
> to references on this?
> Dennis