Sunday, 27 September 2009


Last Thrusdays class we saw the sound stress and how this stress affects the pronounciation of a whole word. The title of this unit that we started last Thrusday is Suprasegmental, so what is suprasegmental? Suprasegmental is a vocal effect that extends over more than one sound segment in a expression, such as pitch, stress, or juncture pattern. We first learned to divide the word into syllable in order to identify which syllable was the one which was stressed. The syllable which is stress is known as strong and is marked with a big circle over it. While the syllable that is not stress is known as weak and it´s also marked, but with a smaller circle. We worked with words with two syllables such as:

1. actor : /ˈæk.tər / 6. attic : /ˈæt.ɪk/

2. about : /əˈbaʊt/ 7. attach : /əˈtætʃ/

3. affair : /əˈfeər / 8. attempt : /əˈtemp t/

4.asset : /ˈæ 9. ambush : /ˈæm.bʊʃ/

5.attack : /əˈtæk/ 10. amount : /əˈmaʊnt/

We learned that when we are looking up a word in the dictionary the stress is marked by an apostrophe and not by the circle that I mentioned earlier. The apostrophe is placed at the beggining when the stress goes on thefirst vowel, but if the firstone is weak then it goes right after the first vowel.
As we can see from the words listed above, all of them start with the letter ¨a¨. And if we really pay attention we can notice that if the word´s fist syllabe is the one which is stress then the phoneme is /æ/ and if the word ¨a ¨ is not stress then is represented by the phoneme /ə/.
If you want more information on stress you can take a look at this site:


  1. Hi Michel,

    Thanks very much for your post- it's clearly explained, and the link that you included is very useful.

    Just one little point regarding the title: Suprasegmental Features of English is the name of this unit, and not just this lesson. Perhaps you want to think about a more suitable title for your post.

    It would also be interesting to know how we distinguish syllables in English - perhaps you could include a short exercise that could help us.

    See you tomorrow!


  2. Primary Stress Markers

    As this was an issue that came up in class, I'd jsut like to reiterate the position of the stress markers in transcriptions.

    Rather than thinking about it in terms of before or after the first syllable, it is best to first identify what is the stressed syllable in the word. The marker will go immediately before the stressed syllable.

    For example:

    university /ju:nI'vɜ:sIti:/

    phonetics /fə'netIks/