Доклад: Английская акцентуализация
The Accentual Structure of English
The greater degree of special prominence given to one or more syllables as
compared with that of the other syllable or syllables in one and the same word
is known as word accent.
When the inherent prominence of one speech sound, especially a vowel, is
equal to or greater than that of the other sounds in the same word, the
accent given to the syllable containing this sound increases its prominence.
For instance, in the word /instiŋkt/ both [i]-sounds have equal inherent
prominence but the actual, accentual prominence of the first [i] is greater
than that of the second. Therefore this word is said to be accented on the
Monosyllabic words pronounced as vocabulary items in isolation are considered
to have word accent.
Types of word accent are distinguished first of all according to the
articulatory means by which it is effected.
à One of such means is the pronunciation of a syllable in a word
with that of the other syllables of the same word. Word accent effected by this
means is called dynamic, or force, stress.
à A syllable can be made specially prominent by uttering it on a
different pitch level or with a different pitch direction than the other
syllable or syllables of the word. Word accent effected by this means is called
musical, or pitch, or tonic.
à A syllable becomes more prominent when its vowel is pronounced
longer than another vowel or other vowels of the same tamber or historical
length in the unstressed position in the same word or in other words of the
language. Word accent by this means is called quantitative.
à Qualitative accent is effected by preserving unobscured the
quality of the vowel phoneme in the accented syllable.
It is generally believed that each of the existing languages has either force
stress or pitch accent or both at the same time as principal phonologically
relevant types with the remaining types as concomitant or incidental ones.
Word accent in European languages, as English, French, Russian, is
traditionally considered to be predominantly dynamic, with different degrees
of the force of uttering a stressed syllable.
From a purely phonetic point of view a polysyllabic word has as many degrees
of stress as there are syllables in it.
2 5 3 6 1 7 4
where 1- is the strongest syllable, 2 is the second strongest, etc. They
distinguish three degrees of word-stress. The strongest stress is called
primary, the second strongest secondary, while the rest degrees of
stress are grouped together under the cover term of weak stress. The
syllables bearing either primary or secondary stress are termed stressed
, while syllables with weak stress are called unstressed.
Different linguists designate by different terms the same degrees of stress and
sometimes allocate different degrees of stress to the same syllable. Some write
that English stress can completely described in form of four contrasting
grades: loud, reduced loud, medial and weak. The others
distinguish primary stress, secondary, tertiary and
weak. The contradiction is due to the fact that they do not discriminate
between word accent, phrase accent and sentence accent. The factors determining
the degree of stress, or accent, which a word has in a sentence are more varied
than the factors determining the degree of stress in a word pronounced in
isolation. The semantic factor determines the position of ‘logical stress’. The
pitch pattern of a word or a free word combination in a sentence is also
determined by the presence of stressed syllables before or after it and by the
Different types of word accent are distinguished not only according to its
nature or degree, but also according to its position, place or incidence. From
this point of view two types of word accent are distinguished: (1) fixed
and (2) free. Within free word accent two subtypes are distinguished on
morphological grounds: (1) constant accent and (2) shifting accent. A constant
accent is one which remains on the same root. For instance, such case forms
wonder, wonderful, wonderfully. A shifting accent is one which falls on
different grammatical forms of a word or in different derivatives from one and
the same root. This term is also referred to the word accent which is shifted
from one syllable to another or used in reference to one of the two word
accents which is retained while the other one disappears under the influence of
the rhythm of word combinations: Berlin [b∂׃‘lin], but
Berlin streets [‘b∂׃lin ‘stri׃ts].
Word accent in English is free but the ‘freedom’ of its incidence is restricted
by certain tendencies which make the incidence of word more predictable. The
first and the oldest tendency is the recessive one, which is characteristic of
all Germanic languages. It has two subtypes – unrestricted and
restricted. The first falls on the initial syllable, provided it is not a
prefix which has no referential meaning now. It is this accent which is
observed in the great majority of native English words of this type, e.g.
father, mother, wonder, husband, etc. Restricted recessive stress
falls on the root of native English words with a prefix which has no
referential meaning now, e.g. among, before, forget, withstand, etc.
Disyllabic and trisyllabic French words underwent in English what is known as
accentual assimilation. The accent in them originally fell, as in Modern
French, on the last syllable, but under the strong influence of the native
English tendency to recessive stress it began to shift gradually to the initial
syllable. In Modern English all the disyllabic and trisyllabic words have only
recessive stress, e.g. colour, marriage. Borrowed words with prefixes
which have no referential meaning now have restricted recessive stress, e.g.
conduct, produce, surprise.
The presence in English of a great number of short words has caused the
development of one more tendency in the incidence of word accent. This is the
so-called rhythmic tendency, while the accent determined by it is called
rhythmical. The result of this tendency is that the overwhelming majority of
three- and four-syllable words with one accent are stressed on the third
syllable from the end.
The accentuation of words ending in the suffix –ion with its variants -sion,
-tion is akso rhythmical in its origin and has developed in the same way as the
accentuation of the words like radical, family.
Strictly speaking, the stress in these words is rhythmical only in its
origin, because in present-day English there is no rhythmical alteration of a
stressed syllable with an unstressed one in such words, e.g. family, colony,
although the final syllable still remains stronger than the preceding one. In
order to reflect the historical origin of this stress it may be called
historically, or diachronically, rhythmical.
A relatively small group of English words have interidiolectal (individual) free
accentual variants both in RP and GA. Thus, some people say ´hospitable
(with recessive stress), whereas others say, equally correctly,
hos´pitable; ´formidable and for´midable.
The tendency arose to keep the accentual pattern, and the pronunciation in
general, of newly borrowed words the same as they were in the language they
from which they were borrowed. The reason for this lay in the new channels
through which borrowings began to be made – not by people from the actual
speakers of the strange language in the process of everyday contacts with
them, as the case was during the Norman Conquest, but second-hand, so to
speak, through the educated members of the nation who knew foreign languages.
There is a third tendency clearly distinguishable in English word accentuation.
It is a manifestation of constant accent in word derivation. This tendency is
called retentive. It is the tendency to retain the accent in a
derivative on the same syllable on which it falls in the original, parent,
word, i.e. the word from which a derivative is immediately formed. person –
The difference between constant and retentive accent consists in that rhe
former remains on the same syllable in all the grammatical forms of a word or
in all the derivatives from one and the same root, whereas retentive stress
in a derivative falls on the same syllable on which it falls in the parent
word, while in other derivatives from the same root it may be shifted:
Like the recessive tendency, the retentive tendency is in conflict with the
rhythmic one. In some words the outcome of the struggle is that the retentive
tendency counteracts and cancels the rhythmic one, in others the opposite is
the case. the rhythmic tendency wins in those cases when the result of the
retentive tendency would be the occurence of two stressed syllables in
succession, which is quite contrary to the rhythmic tendency. For example, the
noun from con´verse should, according to the retentive tendency,
have the secondary stress on the vowel [∂׃] but since this would
contradict the rhythmic tendency, the secondary stress is shifted to the
A peculiar feature of English is the existence in it of certain categories of
words in whose accentuation the crucial determining factor is the semantic
one. These are words with the so-called separable prefixes, i.e. those which
have a distinct referential meaning of their own, and compound words. The
majority of these classes of words have two equally strong stresses, the
so-called double-stress, or even (level) stress.
1. Both stressed parts of such words are considered to be of equal
semantic importance, and this semantic factor even cancels the rhythmic
tendency in word accentuation, with the result that two stressed syllables
may occur in succession in such words. The classes of double-stressed English
2. Words with certain prefixes, such as unknown, underpay, overestimate
3. Compound adjectives like dark-haired, well-dressed, dark-green;
4. Compound verbs with preposition-like adverbs of the type of sit
down, get up;
5. Numerals from 13 to 19, in which the semantic importance of stressing
-teen [-ti:n] consists in opposing it to the unstressed suffix –ty
and thus distinctly differentiating from each other numerals with the suffixes
–teen and -ty coinciding in the first component: fifteen-fifty;
6. Compound numerals like twenty-one, thirty-two;
7. A small number of compound nouns consisting of two elements, of which the
second element is felt to be of special importance: eye-witness [´ai
But the rhythmic tendency becomes operative again when words with even, or
double, stress occur in free word combination. In such cases the mutual
repulsion of two stressed syllables, so characteristic a result of English
speech rhythm cancels the powerful influence of the semantic factor. The first
stress of a double-stressed word disappears when an immediately or closely
preceding word requires stress; the second stress is lost when the following
must be stressed: good-looking [´gud ´lukiŋ], but very
good-looking [´veri gud ´lukiŋ]. But, strictly speaking,
in such cases we have not word-stress, but phrase- and sentence-stress.
In addition to double-stressed compound nouns, English has a much greater number
of two-component compound nouns with single stress, or unity stress:
Newcastle [´nju:ka:sl], greenhouse [´gri:nhaus], flute-player
Word accent must analyzed from functional point of view.
The first function is constitute, which manifests itself in the fact
that every word has word accent, ‘the soul of a word’. In the case of a
disyllabic or a polysyllabic word the constitutive function of word accent
consists in creating the shape of such a word as a pattern of relationships
among its syllables in the matter of force, pitch, quality and quantity.
The second function of word accent, its position and degree, is the
distinctive one. This function makes word accent a separate, prosodic
phonological unit which may be called word accenteme. The number of word
accentemes in a language with free word accent is determined by the number of
the latter's distinctive degrees.
The third function of word accentemes, like that of any other phonological
unit, is identificatory, or recognitive. It consists in the correct
accentuation of words, which facilitates their recognition and comprehension.
If, however, the accentual pattern of words is distorted, the listener’s
attention is distracted from the contents of speech to its unusual form, and
the normal process of communication is hampered. Misplaced stresses are the
commonest causes of a foreign accent in speech and they do not only hamper
understanding but often produce a comic impression.
Russian learners of English must be careful to use not only primary stresses
correctly, but also secondary ones, because secondary stresses are very rare,
weak and often optional in Russian and the learners are apt to omit them in
English. It is necessary to remember that in each five- or six-syllable English
word with the primary stress on the third syllable from the end there must be
secondary stress on the second or third pretonic syllable: pronunci