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Re: OT: Syllabic Stress in English

There are many words in English (at least in the American one) in which the stress
is a matter of choice.  Recently there was a very heated discussion on TV in which
the word harassment was used endlessly.  Within  the same conversations, some
participants, all native American speakers, placed the stress on the first, and some
others on the second syllable.  The word controversy itself can be heard from native
American speakers pronounced with the stress either on the first or on the second
syllable. The words formidable and applicable are also examples, as well as many
other words. It looks though that all such words with an uncertain stress are of the
Latin origin. There is no such phenomenon in Russian and Ukrainian where changing
the stress, if at all permissible,  would mean changing meaning.  M

Dennis wrote:

>         Thanks for reminding me of this!  I read a long time
> ago that English has compound nouns, shown to be such
> by the stress pattern, but not written as such, as it
> would be in German.
> Dennis
> "R. Brzustowicz" wrote:
> >
> > On Wed, 24 Jan 2001, Dan Moonhawk Alford wrote:
> >
> > > Good summary, Dennis. One missed is Noun-Noun compounds, such as "polМce
> > > dog" vs. an Adjective-Noun such as "iron gate." Note the low stress on "dog"
> > > vs. the high stress on "gate." This is a particularly interesting
> > > suprasegmental contrast because it's so unconscious with English speakers
> > > and hard to bring up to consciousness.
> > >
> > > warm regards, moonhawk
> >
> > And in fact if "Iron Gate" were the name of a scandal (cf
> > Watergate> File Gate, Nanny Gate, etc) the pronunciation would shift
> > to the former model.
> >
> > I have the impression that there are dialects of American English in
> > which this distinction is not conserved, or handled differently -- I
> > seem to remember people from New York City doing so, but I can't
> > think of any examples off-hand.
> >
> > Richard B