Thursday, May 15, 2008

Don't stress over word stress!

Word stress in English can be challenging. This is because American English incorporates words from many language backgrounds including, Indian both American Indian and from India, french, Latin, German, polish and every other language. As immigrants continue to influence our language we and they as new American create there own twist to these words, most frequently changing the stress pattern.

It is also true that we don't stick to one pattern, as in French where stress nearly always falls on the final syllable. And we don't mark the stress in our writing like in Spanish.

We do however have clues in our writing to the stress pattern. Specific word endings denote a specific stress pattern. Of course because we are talking about American English there is always to be exceptions to the rule.

One easy rule to remember is that when a word ends in -tion or -sion as in description and confusion, the stress will fall on the syllable right before the ending: description, confusion.

We stress the syllable by making it longer, louder and with a change in the tone.
I have created a podcast and posted it on the right, of the following words. Listen for the stressed syllable.

pediatrician, discussion, obligation, explanation, creation, application, section, relation, fusion, conversation, musician, observation, ration, attention, presentation, obsession, realization.

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