Thursday, August 31, 2006

Teaching Pronunciation (8)


The TESOL teacher should have a good knowledge of how the suprasegmentals are employed in English. Suprasegmentals are those sounds which are overlaid on segmentals. These do not occur without the segmentals which carry them.

Stress, rhythm, and intonation are the three important elements of the suprasegmental system used in English.
Some syllables may be produced with more force or intensity than others. This is called stress. English is a free stress language, unlike French in which the stress always falls on the last syllable of the utterance. In English the stress can be placed on any syllable of the utterance in order to achieve a variety of purposes. The meaning of single words can be changed by shifting the stress. Words which are not ordinarily stressed may be stressed for emphasis
Remember that recognition (and production) of vowels and stress in English is very difficult for the second or foreign language learners of English. Some rules have been identified to explain why, where, and when the stress falls in a word in English. “Unfortunately, there are no infallible rules for determining which syllable of a word should be stressed. Many times you will need to turn to the dictionary unless you hear the word spoken by someone familiar with it. Certain observations, however, should be of help.

1. The great majority (at least three out of four) of two syllable words are accented on the first syllable: never, breakfast, Monday.
2. Compound expressions:
 Compound nouns ordinarily have a primary accent on the first component and secondary accent on the second: drugstore, thoroughfare, weatherman.
 In compound verbs the reverse is true; there is usually secondary accent on the first component and a primary on the second: understand, overlook, outrun.
 In the intensive-reflexive pronouns the stronger accent also falls on the last syllable: myself, yourself.
 Numbers ending in -teen may receive primary stress on either syllable, but it is best for a student learning English as a second language to put it on the last syllable, so as to distinguish clearly between thirty and thirteen, forty and fourteen.
4. A large group of words, which may be used either as nouns or verbs, have a difference in stress to indicate the difference in usage. In such cases, the noun has a primary accent on the first syllable, the verb on the last (compare 2a and 2b above). The nouns in this group of words sometimes have secondary accent on the last syllable: increase, overflow.
cónduct --- condúct
cónflict --- conflíct
cóntèst --- contést
cóntràct --- contráct
cóntràst --- contrást
cónvert --- convért
désert --- desért
íncline --- inclíne
íncreàse --- incréase
ínsert --- insért
ínsult --- insúlt
óverflòw --- òverflów
pérmit --- permít
prógress --- progréss
prótèst --- protèst
rébel --- rebél
récord --- recórd
súrvèy --- survéy
súspect --- suspéct
5. In general, when a suffix is added to a word, the new form is stressed on the same syllable as was the basic word: abandon, abandonment; happy, happiness; reason, reasonable. Words ending in -tion, -sion, -ic, -ical, -ity, however, almost always have primary stress on the syllable preceding the ending. The addition of one of these suffixes may, therefore, result in a shift of accent: contribute, contribution; biology, biological; public, publicity.” (Prator, Jr. and Robinett 1972:19-21).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your blog!

Can you please tell me the difference between suprasegmentals and prosody. Is there a reference that you know of that explains what each of these terms encompasses?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Roger Clément TABOUGUA said...

The Blog is a wonderful source of inspiration for people like us who long to join the family of linguists worldwide and contribute to building up the badly needed peace whose absence serves the interest of evil alone!!!

Monday, March 02, 2015 5:35:00 AM  

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