stressed syllables are louder than non-stressed syllables

Try titis Sltort Exercise

Say this sentence aloud and count how many seconds it takes. The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance. Time required? Probably about 5 seconds. Now, try speaking this sentence aloud. He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn)t have to do any homework in the evening. Time required? Probably about 5 seconds. Wait a minute the first sentence is much shorter than the second sentence! The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn)t have to do any homework in the evening You are only partially right. This simple exercise makes a very important point about how we speak and use English. Namely, English is considered a stressed language while many other languages are considered syllabic. What does that mean? It means that, in English, we give stress to certain words while other words are quickly spoken (some students Spoken English ” say eaten!). In other languages, such as French or Italian, each syllable receives equal importance (there is stress, but each syllable has its own length). Many speakers of syllabic languages don’t understand why we quickly speak or swallow, a number of words in a sentence. In syllabic languages each syllable has equal importance and therefore equal time is needed. English however, spends more time on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, less important, words. Let’s look at a simple example: the modal verb ‘can’. When we use the positive form of ‘can’ we quickly glide over the can and it is hardly pronounced.

As you can see from the above example the sentence, ‘They can’t come on Friday’ is longer than ‘They can come on Friday’ because both the modal ‘can’t’ and the verb ‘come’ are stressed. So, what does this mean for your speaking skills? Well, first of all, you need to understand which words we generally stress and which we do not stress. Basically, stress words are considered

Even though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are 5 stressed words in each sentence. From this example, you can see that you needn’t worry about p,ronouncing every word clearly to be understood. You should however, concentrate on pronouncing the stressed words clearly. Now, do some listening comprehension or go speak to your native English speaking friends and listen to how they concentrate on the stressed words rather than giving importance to each syllable. You will soon find that you can understand and communicate more because you begin to listen for (and use in speaking) stressed words. All those words that you thought you didn’t understand are really not crucial for understanding the sense or making yourself understood. Stressed words are the key to excellent pronunciation and understanding of English.

Gh, is flatter than ch, before and after e, i, it has the sound of y in English, in contact with a, 0, u, it has a broader sound. In the middle and end of certain words it is silent. T, has a flatter sound that t in English, when preceded or followed by a, o. U, the sound is like th in than but stronger and is produced by putting the point of the tongue against or between the teeth, in contact with e, i, it has the sound of ch in chin. Th, beginning a word has the sound of h, silent in the pronoun thu and in certain tenses of irregular verbs when preceded by d’. In the middle of some words it has a slight aspiration, in others it is silent.


L, before or after a, o. U and II after a, 0, u, have a flatter sound than I in English and is produced by pressing the point of the tongue against the teeth as in the word that, in contact with e, i, the sound is like II in million. It has a simple sound after i and when aspirated it is like I in English. N, in conjunction with a, o. U, is like n in English, m has a flatter sound, with e, i, it has a slender sound like n in pinion, n aspirated has the sound of n in English, after c, g, m, t, it resembles the sound ofr. R, rr, like r in English. Monosyllables ending in Ib, lbh, /g, 1m, nm, r;g, rb, rbh, rm, are sounded as two syllables, thus, flar;g (fearug), dealbh (dealuv), marbh (maruv). The letters 1, n, have an aspirated sound, though the aspirate letter is not used, so also has r though much slighter.


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