Learn English with English, baby!

Join for FREE!


My Cool Blog

View all entries from My Cool Blog >




January 11, 2008
Viewed 27705 times.

 Syllable and Word Stress

For today's exercises, you will need:a rubber band, a kazoo or a comb wrapped in tissue paper  

Practice 1: Listen to Unit 4, Word Stress

on the Videotape Answer the following questions while listening to the videoclip. 
1. What is a syllable? 
Features of Stressed Syllables
2. Name the four characteristics of stressed syllables. 
Longer Vowel
3. Name one strategy to help you lengthen the vowel in the stressed syllable. 
Higher Pitch
4. What happens to the pitch in the stressed syllable? . 5. Name one technique that will help you raise your pitch for the stressed syllable. 
Vowel Clarity
Fill in the blanks in the following sentence.In order to get the vowel that is stressed in the word "enunciate," you need to ________________________________ because if you do not, you are not going to have enough time to lengthen the vowel and raise the pitch. 
Reduced Vowel
What happens to vowels in unstressed syllables?The schwa is an unstressed central vowel and is the most common vowel to appear in English. It is one of the problems of English teaching that the most common vowel has no regular character to represent it; learners of English can have a very difficult time with weak vowels.  LoudnessIf you become too loud for the stressed syllable, how will you sound? 
Syllable Stress
For words that are spelled the same but have different grammatical functions (a record, to record), where is the stress for:Nouns?Verbs? Stress in phrasal verbsFor most phrasal verbs such as ¡°put on,¡± ¡°get up,¡± etc., which part should you stress?Underline the stressed part in each of the following phrases: (1) fill in    speak up    put up with     catch up with  

Identifying Syllables

 Attention: Stressed syllables will always be represented by capital letters in the next two chapters, unless otherwise indicated. Before we talk about stress, we need to define the concept of "syllable." A syllable is one sound unit in English. Each syllable has one vowel sound. (Sometimes the vowel is not written e.g., "lit-tIe," but normally it is.) For example, the word "permitted" has 3 syllables as in (2): (2) per-mit-ted In order to identify the number of syllables, it often helps to count the number of vowel sounds in the word. The key point is vowel sounds because we already know that two vowels can sometimes make up one vowel sound, for example,  (3) real, steel, people, point and sometimes it can be two vowel sounds for example,  (4) re-a-lize, co-op-er-ate Look at the following examples. The number of syllables is written in parentheses: (5) meal (1)    pie (1)    main-tain (2)    lit-tIe (2)    ne-go-ti-ate (4) With ed-endings, you will need to be especially careful to listen for the sound instead of focusing on the spelling. If the last consonant before the ed-ending is ¡°t¡± or ¡°d,¡± then the ¡°ed¡± is a separate syllable. If not, then the ¡°ed¡± is not a separate syllable. Look at the following examples. (6) I want-ed (2)    des-cribed (2)     di-vi-ded (3)     filmed (1)  

Practice 2: Identifying Syllables   

http://www1.inhatc.ac.kr/ohmis/annsnd/02/01-AudioTrack 01.mp3 As you listen to the CD, write the number of syllables you hear in the blank. Check the Answer Key and correct your mistakes.
volunteer (   )economy (   )hardware (   )
electric (   )electricity (   )electrical (   )
estimate (   )population (   )professional (   )
deadline (   )apologize (   )government (   )
canned (   )Canada (   )development (   )
deleted (   )arranged (   )scared (   )
please (   )police (   )quite (   )
quiet (   )claps (   )collapse (   )
appropriate (    )appropriation (   )diet (   )

Word Stress

 Now that you understand the concept of syllables, let's look at how some syllables are more important than others. Let's start by looking at some words. What's the difference in pronunciation between the underlined words in the following sentences: (6) The Olympic team just set a new record in swimming.(7) The musical group is going to record a new CD (compact disc). "Record," in sentence (1) is accented on the first syllable: RE-cord. "Record," in sentence (2) is accented on the second syllable: re-CORD. The stress difference distinguishes the meaning of these two words, even though they are spelled exactly the same. This phenomenon is called "wordstress." English word stress is not as regular as in many languages, such as French, in which the stress normally goes on the last syllable. However, the good news is that there are ways in which you can know which syllable is stressed. You can determine word stress through: (1) listening to native speakers, (2) using the dictionary, (3) applying rules. We will be taking each of these and studying them one-by-one. Listen to the native speaker on the internet homepage who will pronounce this word for you and find out where the stress is? How do you know?http://www1.inhatc.ac.kr/ohmis/annsnd/02/02-AudioTrack 02.mp3 (8) Vegetarian  There are four changes of the sound which occur in stressed syllables: 

Changes of Vowel Articulation in the stressed syllable

 Vowels in the stressed syllable are: 1. long (loooong)2. LOUD3. high in pitch4. clearly enunciated On the other hand, vowels in unstressed syllables are articulated in a very opposite manner. 
Vowels in unstressed syllables
 1. short2. soft3. low in pitch4. often reduced to the /uh/ sound (schwa) like the sound in "but" or /i/ as in "it."  

Practice 3: Identifying Word Stress Through Listening 

http://www1.inhatc.ac.kr/ohmis/annsnd/02/03-AudioTrack 03.mp3 Listen as the speaker on the CD pronounces the following words. Listen for length, loudness, pitch change, and vowel clarity.  Underline the primary stressed syllable. Check the Answer Key when you finish. (9)

Practice 4: Vowel Length

http://www1.inhatc.ac.kr/ohmis/annsnd/02/04-AudioTrack 04.mp3 Vowel length is one of the most important features of stressed syllables. For this exercise, use your rubber band. Make sure you are stretching your rubber band for the vowel in each of the stressed syllables below as you follow along with the CD. Note: The stressed syllable is in capital letters.
 (10)sys-te-MA-tic       sin-CERE            con-SIS-tente-XA-mined         re-in-FORCED       MO-ti-va-tedFORCE-ful          clas-si-fi-CA-tion    Chi-NESEob-li-GA-tion       COM-pli-ca-ted      go-vem-MEN-tal  

Practice 5: Pitch Changes

 Another important feature of stress is pitch change. This is often difficult for non-native speakers of English, so we will be using various strategies to help you. The fIrst strategy is to use a kazoo, to "play" the word, as demonstrated on the videotape. If you do not have a kazoo, make one out of a comb wrapped in tissue paper. Hold the tissue paper tightly around the comb. For each of the words, "play" them on your kazoo. Do not try to form the words with your mouth, just make the musical sound. You will hear a vibration on the higher pitched sound. Focus on making your pitch go up for the stressed syllable and hold the stressed syllable for a longer time than the unstressed syllables. This may feel strange at first, but it will help you focus on the concept of pitch. Practice several times. A second strategy is to try singing the syllables of the word. Start by singing la, la, la, and by making the stressed syllable a strong "LA." Use the following musical scale to help you focus on raising your pitch for the stressed syllable: (1) 1st syllable stressed        (2) 2nd syllable stressed                
3  LA-         AT-                 LA-                CE-
2      la-la        mos-phere          la- la      pro-     dure
 Practice the same concept with the following words. (11)AT-mos-phere                  pro-CE-dureCOM-pli-ca-ted                a-NA-Iy-sisA-na-lyze                      con-SIS-tentCON-cept                      ex-PER-I-ment    
 (3) 3rd syllable stressed       (4) 4th syllable stressed 
3        LA-           MA-               LA-               CA-
2   la-la    la   syste-     tic     la-Ia-Ia    la   clas-si-fi-    tion
 Practice this concept with the following words in (12): (12)CON-cept                        ex-PER-I-mentsys-te-MA-tic                    clas-si-fi-CA-tionob-li-GA-tion                     ex-pe-ri-MEN-talre-in-FORCED                    re-com-men-DA-tiontech-ni-CA-li-ty  

Practice 6: Vowel Clarity and Unstressed Syllables

 The last feature of stressed syllables is vowel clarity or how strong the vowel sounds. Some language groups find it difficult to reduce the vowel sound in the unstressed syllable to an /uh/ sound (as in "up"), but it is very important that you learn how to reduce these vowel sounds. If you do not, it will be very difficult to understand your words and it will be very difficult to change the vowel length of only the stressed syllable sounds.  When you reduce the vowel sound in the unstressed syllable, it helps you to go more quickly over those syllables while still stressing the vowels in the stressed syllables. It also helps your listener focus on the stressed syllable.  For example, many of my French-speaking students will say the word "message" with a strong /a/ sound in the unstressed syllable "sage." What I hear is the word "massage." The sentences (1) and (2) have very different meanings! (1) I need to give you a ^message. (2) I need to give you a mas^sage. Even if the student has the correct stress on the first syllable of "message," without changing the vowel to an /uh/ sound in the second syllable, the word is going to be misinterpreted.  Another common example is the word "appropriate" as demonstrated by Antonio on the videotape. If the unstressed syllable ATE is not reduced to /ut/, the word is easily misunderstood. Listen as the speaker on the CD pronounces the same words as in Exercise 3. This time, listen for the unstressed syllables. Many of the unstressed syllables (but not all) are reduced to a schwa sound (the sound in "but"). Cross out these syllables with a line to show that they are barely heard. (Check your answers with the Answer Key.)  http://www1.inhatc.ac.kr/ohmis/annsnd/02/05-AudioTrack 05.mp3 Example: governMENtal (13)

Practice 7: Syllables with Long Words  

http://www1.inhatc.ac.kr/ohmis/annsnd/02/06-AudioTrack 06.mp3 Some non-native speakers try to make long words shorter by eliminating syllables. Reducing syllables does not mean removing them. Speakers from language groups that have shorter words like Chinese or voiceless vowels like Japanese, need to work on these strategies the most. For each of the long words below, practice saying the words slowly along with the CD, making sure you enunciate the sounds of the stressed syllable.  If you come from a language group that tends to give equal stress to every syllable like Spanish or Arabic, work on emphasizing the stressed syllable and de-emphasizing (reducing) the vowels in the unstressed syllables. The stressed syllable is capitalized, so hold it longer and say it slightly higher and louder with clear enunciation.  Use some of the strategies discussed on the videoclip like backward buildup, rhyming and pausing. Use a mirror so that you can see your jaw open and your lips move for the stressed syllables. (14) complicated: COM-pli-cat-ed The work was very complicated. (15) autobiographical: au-to-bi-o-GRAPH-i-cal The autobiographical work was long. (16) alphabetical: al-pha-BET-i-cal The reports were put in alphabetical order. (17) appropriately: ap-PRO-pri-ate-Iy He reviewed the case appropriately. (18) borderline: BOR-der-line His grade was borderline between A and B. (19) calculator: CAL-cu-Ia-tor The calculator was very expensive. (20) cosmopolitan: cos-mo-POL-i-tan He comes from a cosmopolitan area. (21) difficulty: DIF-fi-cul-ty Do you have difficulty with these words? (22) evacuated: e-VAC-u-a-ted We evacuated the building quickly. (23) governmental: gov-em-MEN-tal The governmental regulations were tough. (24) intelligible: in- TEL-li-gi-ble The man was not very intelligible. (25) intercontinental: in-ter-con-ti-NEN-tal The intercontinental communication was good. (26) magnificently: mag-NIF-i-cent-Iy , The deal was negotiated magnificently. (27) numerically*: nu-MER-i-cal-Iy The averages are numerically greater than last year's. (28) productive: pro-DUC-tive Our department is very ~roductive. (29) sensibility: sen-si-BI-li-ty Sensibility is a good character quality. (30) strategically*: stra-TE-gi-cal-Iy Strategically, we need to increase our sales. (31) unpredictability: un-pre-dict-a-BI-li-ty The unpredictability is frustrating. (32) photography: pho-TO-gra-phy He is getting a degree in photography. * Americans often combine the last 2 syllables in words ending in "cally": nu-mer-i-clly  

Practice 8: Word Stress in Context  

http://www1.inhatc.ac.kr/ohmis/annsnd/02/07-AudioTrack 07.mp3 The following song is particularly good for word stress. As you listen to the lyrics, underline the stressed syllable in the 2-syllable key words in italics. Then practice paying special attention to stressing those syllables through length, pitch, volume, and vowel clarity. Before you begin, review the strategies from Chapter 3 on pronouncing [mal al sounds (Day 12, Practice 4). 
The Logical Song
(by Supertramp) When I was young, it seemed that life was so wondeiful.Oh, it was beautiful, magical.And all the birds in the trees, well, they'd be singing so joyfully, playfully watching me. But then they sent me away, to teach me how to be logical, sensible.And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable, clinical, intellectual, cynical. At night, when all the world's asleep,The questions run too deep,For such a simple man.Won't you please, tell me what we've learned,I know it sounds absurd, but please tell me who I am.  

Practice 9: Natural Speech with Interviews

 The following adjectives are used to describe people interviewing for jobs. These traits are considered to be positive in the U.S. Choose 5-10 traits that you feel describe yourself. Underline the stressed syllable in each of those words and practice the strategies of vowel length, pitch, volume, and vowel clarity (or reduction) as you say each of the words.
attentiveefficientobjectivesophisticated '
 Note: If you don't know the stress for any of these adjectives, either ask a native speaker or check a dictionary of North American English. The stress will either be marked above the stressed vowel (cre-a-tive) or at the beginning of the stressed syllable (cre-^a-tive) depending on which dictionary you are using.  

Practice 10: Using Word Stress in Job Interviews

 Which of these traits best describe you? With a partner, imagine you are applying for a job and try to describe yourself as accurately as possible. Give examples of each trait you use. For example, (34) "I feel that I am very resourceful. For instance, in my last job, there was a big problem with a project, but by finding an easier way to do the project, we were able to get it done on time." Below are two typical questions asked during a job interview. For each question, a brief answer is provided as an example, but you should substitute your own answers using the words listed above and your own specific skills and examples. (35) Tell me about yourself and your background as it relates to this position.(36) ¡°I am a data analyst with a history of successful trouble-shooting and problem solving. When I worked for SK Corporation in Korea, I was a process engineer in charge of operations and quality control. I am currently fInishing my MBA degree with a concentration in operations.¡± (37) What are your strengths?(38) ¡°I have excellent interpersonal skills with an ability to communicate my ideas and proposals to diverse groups of people in a diplomatic, yet constructive way. 1 believe 1 am also very cooperative in teams and creative in problem solving. For example, in the last team 1 was on, 1 was able to effectively work with members from many departments and come up with a solution that fit the needs of both marketing and the engineers.¡± This is a particularly long day's worth of exercises. You may prefer to delay some of the exercises to Day 15.As we mentioned at the beginning of this unit, in addition to "hearing" stress, there are several important rules to help you determine where the stress occurs. These fall into three major categories: 1. parts of speech2. prefixes3. suffixes

More entries: TOM CRUISE, The European Union, ELECTION DAY, Harry Potter, Uncle Sam, Spelling, mem 2 LOOK - THINK - COVER - WRITE - CHECK, mem1 Remembering how to spell new words , More Useful words in English, 7.1. Sentence Stress Basics

View all entries from My Cool Blog >