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Stressing the Right Word in a Sentence

Stressing the Right Word in a Sentence

Date: Jan 27 2009

主題: 發音

作者: nad1a

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In a previous lesson, we saw how intonation can change the underlying meaning of a whole sentence. Over here, we will see which words are important to be pronounced well and clearly and which can be “swallowed”.

Languages, like French and Italian, are considered syllabic languages and each syllable is pronounced clearly, and takes up roughly the same amount of time. English is a stress-timed language and syllables may last different amounts of time. Only main words are stressed and given importance in pronunciation and small non-essential words are reduced and glided over.

Consider these two sentences:


The banks say their programs offer convenience.
I'm just calling to let you know that I'll be a little late to the game tomorrow night.


Both sentences need the same time to be pronounced, despite the second one containing more syllables. This is because they have the same amount of stressed words.

We usually stress content words, carrying the essential meaning, like nouns, main verbs, adjectives and adverbs. When we pronounce these words we raise our voice there or may prolong the sound. The small connecting words, usually called grammatical or structure words, like auxiliary and modal verbs, pronouns, articles, and prepositions are not stressed but rather sound like one long unstressed word.

You can check this for yourself while you watch a movie in English, some TV show or the news or speak to a native speaker. Notice the way they stress the key words only and the rest of small words are scrunched down. You may also want to try this with any of the Englishbaby lessons, on here. This will improve not only your listening comprehension but also your pronunciation, when you start stressing words correctly, yourself.

Further reading:
More help on Pronunciation

意見

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Nikos

Nikos

Greece

Thanks for being there for all of us!

06:29 PM Mar 09 2009 |

sweetme

sweetme

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

thank you it was very good lessen Wink

07:24 PM Mar 07 2009 |

Layz

Layz

China

Oh yeah ,it’s good for me! Thanks

12:22 PM Mar 07 2009 |

FatalGirl

FatalGirl

Ukraine

thanks for the lesson

08:48 AM Mar 07 2009 |

EDITH ^.~

EDITH ^.~

United States

It's enlightening. Thanks!

06:55 PM Mar 06 2009 |

iyezi

iyezi

China

useful,thx

11:29 AM Mar 06 2009 |

tiffintime

tiffintime

Sri Lanka

Thanks for these reference links on rhythm in speech. I believe that this a problem that we often have here in South Asia. People may be able to write quite decent English, but may not always have the correct speech rhythm due to the influence of their native language.

Professor Stahlke's talk was very interesting. He says that people first acquire their native language rhythm while they are still in their mother's womb! He goes on to recommend the use of jazz chants to teach English speech rhythm. 

http://www.onestopenglish.com/section.asp?sectionType=listsummary&catid=59397&docid=146250

07:00 AM Mar 05 2009 |

ZOOM78

Egypt

thank u for your information u gave us but if u have any information about the rules which control the pronunciatin of english language .iwill be so grateful to u like letter a have more seven way in pronunciatin

 

03:06 PM Mar 04 2009 |

david.chen10

China

I know a lot of English words but pronounce them incorrectly.how can I improve it?thanks!Cool

01:18 AM Mar 03 2009 |

yawar

yawar

Pakistan

yeah thank, it was a good lesson to me,

12:41 PM Feb 27 2009 |

Kujtesa

Serbia and Montenegro

thank you , it is a very good lesson for me

 

12:43 PM Feb 24 2009 |

yasmeen123

Saudi Arabia

thank for you

06:22 PM Feb 23 2009 |

klara92

Iraq

hi

12:40 PM Feb 23 2009 |

nad1a

nad1a

Greece

Brian,

assuming that they already know what a noun or a verb is from their first language, that's not what you have to explain at all. but raising students' awareness of the stress and rythm of English will make them better speakers AND listeners.

10:09 PM Feb 21 2009 |

Brian USA

Brian USA

United States

As a teacher in China, it would take the entire class period to explain nouns and verbs and the other grammatical vocuabulary..  Just say the sentence and let the native listener figure out the details..  dont confuse yourself with these details

 

05:25 PM Feb 21 2009 |

the giant

Yemen

i want to improve my talking and i donot find any chating

04:54 PM Feb 21 2009 |

zingcjs

zingcjs

China

Thank you ,,hehe ,you are graceful.

08:06 AM Feb 19 2009 |

zingcjs

zingcjs

China

Thank you>>i think it's will be very useful for me .

07:13 AM Feb 19 2009 |

nad1a

nad1a

Greece

oh , you 're welcome :-P

07:09 PM Feb 18 2009 |

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