Dig into the concept of some syllables in a word being shorter, and some being longer.
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Today I’m going to talk about word stress. Word stress is the idea that in a word with more than one syllable, one (or more than one) syllable will be stressed or accented. And the rest will be unstressed, or, unaccented. Notice that I’m using the words ‘stress’ and ‘accent’ interchangeably. So, in English, not all syllables are created equal. Stressed or accented syllables will be higher in pitch, longer in duration, and generally a little louder than unstressed or unaccented syllables. So let’s look at some examples. Chapter. A two syllable word, chapter, which syllable do you think is stressed? It’s the first syllable, chapter. Can you hear that it’s louder, and that it’s higher in pitch? Another example, undo, undo. I hope you can hear that here, the stress falls on the second syllable. Chapter, undo.
The word imagination. Imagination – ‘na’ has a primary stress. But there is a secondary stress in this word. Ima-, on the second syllable. Imagination. So what is a secondary stress? This means that it will be a little higher in pitch, maybe a little longer in duration, but not quite as much as the syllable in the word that has the primary stress. Does word stress really matter? Absolutely. It can affect the pronunciation, it can affect the meaning of a word.Let’s take for example this word. As an adjective or a noun, the stress falls on the first syllable. Present, present. As a verb, the stress falls on the second syllable, present, present.
So as a noun or adjective, the first vowel is the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’, and the second syllable, unaccented, is the schwa. In the verb form, however, present, the first vowel, in the unaccented syllable, is the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. And the second vowel in the stressed syllable is the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’. Present, present. It’s an important part to being understood. To work on this, take a look at the video Listening Comprehension in Two-Syllable Words, and see if you can tell based on hearing which syllable is stressed. Also, more videos on this topic will be made. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.