Talk:Stress (linguistics)

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Confounding of different types of stress[edit]

I only skimmed this article, but it appears to discuss a mixture of stress within a sentence and stress within a word. These need to be clearly distinguished, discussed separately, and cross-referenced. Thomas.Hedden (talk) 02:50, 26 December 2010 (UTC)


The article says

(Much literature emphasizes the importance of pitch changes and pitch motions on stressed syllables, but experimental support for this idea is weak. However, most experiments do not directly address the pitch of speech, which is a subjective perceived quantity. Experiments typically measure the speech fundamental frequency which is objectively measurable, and strongly correlated with pitch, but not quite the same thing.)

Is there any reference for this? Why is it in parentheses? Jirka6 03:33, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

stress mark[edit]

Thanks for the help with italics. Does anyone know how to put in stress marks and syllable marks such as you would find in a dictionary? That would clarify this article immensely.

Ah. like the ' and the same but lower down. I'm not sure we can do these. I wonder if ' is any good. I can't see it anywhere on Wikipedia:Special characters -- Tarquin 18:21 Jan 20, 2003 (UTC) ... ... having seen the save version, ' seems fine. :-) -- t

The symbol for primary stress mark is < ˈ > (decimal: #712, hex: #02C8) called Modifier Letter Vertical Line.
Secondary stress mark is < ˌ > (decimal: #716, hex: #02CC) called Modifier Letter Low Vertical Line.
But, if you are only concerned with primary stress, I think you could substitute Apostrophe < ' > (decimal: #39, hex: #0027) for Modifier Letter Vertical Line since it looks rather similar & is less problematically displayed on the Web. (Apostrophe is not to be confused with Left Single Quotation Mark < ‘ > or Right Single Quotation Mark < ’ >.)
IPA also mentions a symbol for "extra strong stress" (I dont see a specially created character for this one) which could be represented by Quotation < " > (html: ", decimal: #34, hex: #0022).
- Ish ishwar 21:41, 2005 Feb 6 (UTC)

record example[edit]

Is the record/record example valid? Don't the two words actually use different phonemes, aparnt from vocal stress?

Perhaps a com'-pound, to com-pound' would be better examples. English also has a system where unstressed vowels are apt to change phonemes, especially to become schwas. Perhaps a link to Initial-stress-derived_noun would be useful too.

No, record and record have the same phonemes. There are phonological rules that affect vowels in unstressed syllables creating different allophones.
If you want an example with vowels that dont change so much, try import (noun) ['ɪmport] vs. import (verb) [ɪm'port]
- Ish ishwar 21:49, 2005 Feb 6 (UTC)

IPA mark[edit]

Would somebody please put in something about the IPA mark for stress. I've never understood it.

The IPA has two marks, one for primary stress (which looks like an apostrophe, ') and the other for secondary stress (which is the same, only lowered/subscripted). These marks are placed before the stressed syllable (not after, and not before the stressed vowel). IIRC, in SAMPA these are rendered as double quotes (") and percent sign (%), but mostly I've seen apostrophe and comma, respectively.
It'd be nice to see signed and dated comments over here. You can add your username and current date/time using four tildes (~~~~) in the edit box. They'll be converted automatically. -Pablo D. Flores 14:21, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

my comments[edit]


  • Not all stress is lexical stress. So, the Vocal stress article should not redirect here.
  • Since this is an English encyclopedia, I think that English stress should be explained in more detail to give readers a better background. Stress in English has acoustic correlates in mostly pitch and duration although occassionally amplitude (auditorily equivalent to loudness) is also involved.
  • Discuss the linguistic functions of stress.

Peace - Ish ishwar 21:57, 2005 Feb 6 (UTC)

After looking this up in my Penguin Dictionary of Language, I have to agree with Ish. Would anyone mind if we moved this to a more appropriate title? Stress (linguistics) seems much more appropriate.
Peter Isotalo 22:33, May 9, 2005 (UTC)
Agree. "Vocal stress" misses the mark; "Stress (linguistics)" follows a simple unambiguous format (which should be used in other articles, BTW). --Pablo D. Flores 10:26, 10 May 2005 (UTC)
Moved and fixed secondary redirects.
Peter Isotalo 08:23, May 15, 2005 (UTC)

There's still something amiss. Linguistic Accent consists of three parts, stress, tone and length. By calling the article about Speech-Accent "Accent (Linguistics)", and redirecting stress (phonology) to stress (linguistics), we have a major problem here. The article now called Stress (linguistics) is only about stress on syllables. You can also stress words and word groups, or even whole sentences.

How about a hierarchy like this:

Accent disambiguation

the main problem is, that in english research stress and accent are often confused because of english being a stress accent language. But there are other types like pitch accent languages. --Trickstar 14:58, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree that we need to be more careful distinguishing the two meanings of "accent", but I don't think Accent (language) vs. Accent (linguistics) is the way to go. Both terms are used in linguistics to describe phenomena in languages. I'd recommend Accent (sociolinguistics) for the article now called Accent (linguistics) and Prosodic phonology for a general article on the different types of prosodic accent and the different prosodic categories that can be stressed. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 16:38, 13 September 2005 (UTC)
That'd be fine by me. --Trickstar 19:28, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

Problem with IPA characters[edit]

It looks like many of the IPA symbols are broken. I'd love to fix it but I'm not particularly familiar with wikipedia's IPA commands

--Delgiudc 19:32, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

I fixed some idiosyncratic transcriptions to be more standard, but I can't find any broken characters. Can you be more specific? Angr (tc) 19:54, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

They are all appearing correctly now. Before, both firefox and IE displayed the code (with slashes and such) rather than the actual phonetic symbol. I tried viewing the article on two different machines and found the same result. But now they seem to be working fine. Not sure if it was something you did but thanks for looking into it.

I didn't do anything. Must have been something at your end, though it's weird it would be that way on two different browsers on two different machines. Angr (tc) 21:12, 18 May 2006 (UTC)

added pro-ject/proj-ect example[edit]

I also think the intralink to hyphenation algorithm is a bonus, because stress plays out in that sphere in interesting ways. Gaa. I just read the external link and it suggest re/cord and rec/ord though my first dictionary had them both as re/cord. Is this a general property of a weak interior consonant binding to the stressed syllable when the stress varies by part of speech? I have the feeling over-emphasizing pronunciation under my breath that stressed syllables are somewhat lengthened as well which would bear on syllabification even if a stressed consonant was too ambiguous to detect. MaxEnt 02:02, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Stress timed languages etc[edit]

I think that this section should be updated. While I agree that `stress timed language' is a handy term, it is unfortunately experimentally disproved, and I know no phonlogist who believes in stress-timed languages (vs. syllable and mora timed lgs). Many non-phonologists do, of course Jasy jatere 10:34, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Notation - portuguese tilde[edit]

Tilde (~) in Portuguese language IS NOT a mark of stress for nasal vowels. It is simply a "nasalisation" mark for a given vowel. The source of confusion is the fact that most syllables with nasalized vowels are in fact stressed. There are, however, counter-examples where stressed syllable is not the nasalized one: "bênção" (blessing), "órfão" (orfan), etc. Therefore, I am correcting this mistake.

I am also rephrasing the bit about when to use the diacritics or not. All multi-syllable words in Portuguese have one stressed syllable. Instead of using diacritics in every single word, Portuguese language uses them only in "unexpected" pronunciations, i.e., a uncommon pronunciation of given pattern of letters on a word. For instance, the majority of words ending in "o" are stressed on the penult syllable, hence this stress is not marked ("bolo", "engodo", "gordo", etc); the few cases where the stressed syllable is the last, the diacritic is used ("xodó", "gogó", "bangô", etc).

Of course, this rule is not so robust, as diacritics are required in all words ended on "x", "ps" or "n" whose stressed syllable is the penult. Trouble is, there is no word ending in "x", "ps" ora "n" whose stress is on the last syllable. Go figure... hawck (talk) 16:56, 26 December 2007 (UTC)


I just had a question that I still don't quite understand: what is the purpose of secondary stress? Rengai-Laran (talk) 03:03, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

The antepaenultima rule[edit]

I am surprised that the antepaenultima rule in the English language is not mentioned in wikipedia. As a Swede I started to learn English when I was 10 years, and one of the most important rules we had to learn was the antepaenultima rule, it means that in English the stress is always on the third wowel from the end. The latin word antepaenultima means the one that comes before the one before the last, i.e. the third from the end. If the word is shorter than three wowels the stress is on the first wowel. This rule creates problems when words which are not originally English are pronounced by native English speakers. For example the word kilometer. It consists of two words written together, ki'lo and me'ter. But pronounced by native English speakers it becomes kilo'meter, thus destroying the melody of both ki'lo and me'ter. So it would be better to teach native English speakers to pronounce kilometer as two words, like ki'lo-me'ter. Roger491127 (talk) 21:17, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

Stress marks on examples[edit]

I recently reverted an edit changing acute accent marking English stress to the IPA symbol. I personally find using an acute accent more intuitive, and I suspect readers who are used to reading the usual non-IPA dictionary pronunciations will be confused by the convention of placing the IPA symbol before rather than after the stressed syllable. But either way, there are two or three ways of marking stress in the same set of examples, and I'm not even sure the ways of marking stress that are used are those that are most common in the languages to which the examples belong. There's another consideration: whether we should make the stress marking accessible (WP:ACCESS) and how to do so. I'm not sure how to solve any of these problems. — Eru·tuon 19:56, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Surely there is an issue of consistency here, as you imply. The info-box at at the head of the article shows the IPA symbols for stress. Elsewhere stress is indicated by acute accents, or bold type, or italic type, or capitals. I personally don't like the change to the old acute accent convention, and feel it should have been discussed here first. But is it impossible for WP to agree on a single way of marking stress (and its different levels) within the area of linguistics articles?RoachPeter (talk) 22:30, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
I think if we're going to use IPA, we should use IPA. It's too confusing for people otherwise. In this case, there's no purpose to transcribing in IPA, and I think people are familiar enough with respelling techniques that they should be okay. — kwami (talk) 07:21, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Phonetic realization[edit]

Someone has just deleted a para on phonetic factors in the realization of stress. I don't want to argue that this is excellent stuff, but surely some justification should be given for deleting it. I suggest it should be reinstated. RoachPeter (talk) 16:33, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

The deletion was made by an IP user and it looked like a common vandalization. I have just reverted it. --Jotamar (talk) 21:55, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

From the StressTyp2 database it appears no known language lacks lexical stress entirely.[edit]

The last sentence of the second paragraph of the introduction says: "However, some languages are considered to lack lexical stress entirely". I don't believe this is true; from my reading of various linguisticians' work on stress (e.g. [1]), some languages have only primary stress and not secondary stress, and some languages have only secondary stress and not primary stress, but all known languages which have two-or-more-syllable words and have actually been studied and published about, have at least one or another kind of stress. Whoever contributed that sentence didn't include an example language and didn't include a sample linguistician who thought that language didn't have any kind of lexical stress. If some authority does in fact consider that some language with two-or-more-syllable words completely lacks any kind of lexical stress, I hope someone will include references to that here. Eldin raigmore (talk) 01:57, 2 July 2016 (UTC)

I think French is an example of a language without lexical stress. Stress is on the final syllable of a phrase, not on individual words. The transcriptions on Wikipedia reflect this (see Help:IPA for French). — Eru·tuon 06:20, 2 July 2016 (UTC)

@Erutuon; I'm not sure French is an example, but thanks; your information would satisfy the "which languages" part of my request. I still want to know "who says" and have a citation. Eldin raigmore (talk) 17:01, 3 July 2016 (UTC)


Merger discussion[edit]

I realize this issue has been addressed sporadically in the past, but I think it merits a fuller discussion. It seems to be that the potentially misleading article title Accent (phonetics) contains content brief enough that we can merge it elsewhere, or differentiate its parts. On a quick look, it seems that most of the information would work well here, under Stress (linguistics). Part of my concern is how Accent (phonetics) and Accent (sociolinguistics) could be easily conflated. To lay readers, it is not obvious the difference between "Accent" in the sociolinguistic sense versus the phonetic sense. Wolfdog (talk) 03:24, 16 August 2016 (UTC)


It is not correct to label just any stressed syllable as tonic. The term is (at least in the case of English) reserved for the primary-stressed syllable which carries or initiates a pitch movement. It is used in this way by Halliday and Crystal, among others. "Tonic stllable" is equivalent to "nuclear syllable". RoachPeter (talk) 18:22, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

Accent and stress[edit]

I am suggesting a change to this article for anyone familiar with it to implement. It doesn't clearly explain the difference between accent and stress. Abercrombie explains accent as the lexical prominence on a syllable without referring to any phonetic realization. Stress is a possible phonetic realization of accent. This distinction is not made clear in the article. A more detailed explanation can be found on pages 4-7 of the book Word Stress: Theoretical and Typological Issues.--Megaman en m (talk) 14:20, 3 August 2019 (UTC)

@Megaman en m: I agree. The main problem lies in the fact that there is no article "Accent (phonetics)" (anymore). Probably because of its meagre content and lack of sources, it was turned into a redirect to this article, as if stress were the one and only type of accent, which is of course incorrect. Just as incorrect as the opening subject in the lead "...stress or accent...". If you go to the DAB-page "Accent", things look a bit better, since there you find both stress and pitch accent listed, however oddly skewed (actually it looked better before). Things could be fixed by restating the lead in the following way:
— "In linguistics, and particularly phonology, stress is a kind of phonetic accent which gives relative emphasis or prominence given to a certain syllable in a word, or to a certain word in a phrase or sentence."
In such a way, it becomes clear that stress is just one possible realization of accent. Ideally, "phonetic accent" should be linked to an explanatory article ([[Accent (phonetics)|phonetic accent]]), but that article needs to be resurrected and thoroughly rewritten. –Austronesier (talk) 20:24, 3 August 2019 (UTC)