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ACCENTUATION

Now, we are going to talk about one suprasegmental feature, accentuation. (The study of phonological features which apply to
groups larger than the single segment, such as the syllable or the word)

When we speak we give more emphasis to some parts of an utterance than to others. We make syllables stand out (to be
prominent/important/or easily note) with respect to its neighboring syllables, and some words stand out with respect to the rest of
the word in a longer utterance. Distribution of prominence depends upon the speakers appreciation of how much information he
shares with his listener. Words are made prominent they carry information.

Lets examine the elements which in English are significant for the speaker and for the listener in producing the communicated
effect of prominence. These elements which are stress, pitch, quality and quantity, have not equal validity speaker and listener alike,
and they may cause a syllable to be more prominent that the others.

Stress: From the articulatory point of view (that is to say from the way in which sounds are produced) it is caused by greater
muscular energy and breath force. Auditorily (how speech sounds are perceived by the listener), stress is perceived as loudness, and
can be defined as the property of a sound which enabled us, using only our ears, to place it on a scale going from loud to soft. So the
speaker feels this feature as extra energy, and the listener hears it as extra loudness. There are several degrees of articul atory
energy in producing, for example, a polysyllabic word (consisting of several, especially four or more, syllables, as a word), for e.g in
the word examination,the syllables may be articulated with following descending order of energy / na / xa/ i/ mi/ tion/.
However, the English speaker will normally distinguish only stressed and unstressed (strong and weak) syllables, while the li stener
will notice loud and weak syllables.

Pitch: We should know that the tenser the vocal cords, the faster they vibrate, and the higher the note that is produced. But we
cannot actually feel our vocal folds vibrating faster or slower. What we hear is a higher or lower note. So articulatory, pitch depends
mainly on the tension and the rate of vibration of the vocal cords. Auditorily, it is the quality of a sound, in terms of which it can be
placed on a scale running from high to low, or acute or grave. It is only possible for changes of pitch to occur on some syll ables in an
utterance.

Quality: Articulatory, quality depends on the shape of the resonators. Auditorily, quality is that feature in terms of which two
sounds are perceived as dissimiliar (not the same, different). For e.g the difference between /s/ and // or /i/ and /e/. In a sequence
of phonemes, vowels are normally more prominent than consonants: among the vowels, prominence increases as the vowel
becomes more open; among the consonants, those which are vowel-like, for e.g /m-n-r-l/, stand out from the reminder, while
fricatives have a higher prominence than plosives.

In addition to the prominence of sounds, certain English phonemes are particularly associated with unaccented situations. So // d
does not occur in accented syllables; and /i - u/ though both may receive full accentual prominence, have a high frequency of
occurrence in unaccented syllables. The other English vowels may also occur in syllables which dont receive the primary accent, but
they are usually associated with some degree of secondary accent (especially /ae - o/ and the long vowels and diphthongs). For
example:
never / / nephew / /
contain / / canteen / /

Quantity: Articulatory, quantity of a sound is the length of time during which it is held on continuously. Auditorily, it is that
property of a sound that enabled us to place it on a scale going from long to short.

So, what kind of syllables are associated with prominence in the light of these four elements? In the case of stress, those syllables
containing a loud sound, in the case of pitch, those which can act as pitch movement initiators (that is to say a syllable on which
pitch contrast begins); in the case of quality, those containing a strong vowel; as to quantity those containing a long vowel and or
consonant. And those words containing weak vowels, or syllabic consonants, and short sounds are considered to lack prominence
and consequently, they cannot act as pitch movement initiators.

In speech, it is pitch that is the most commonly used. For example, in the case of today and wonderful, the prominent syllables may
be accompanied by a falling, or rising pitch. Let us consider the word cigarette. This has two prominent syllables, but they are
prominent in two different ways. In the first syllable the chief element causing prominence is stress, while in the third syllable the
main factor is change of pitch. Notice that the non-prominent syllable contain the short weak vowel //.

Finally, syllables may receive some prominence due to the quality and or quantity of the vowel sound in them, without any extra
muscular energy or pitch movement, e.g, the last syllable in attitude may be said to have inherent prominence,
produced rather than by the inherent quality and quantity of the strong vowel /u :/ than by a voluntary action on the part of the
speaker.
(The resonators are cavities where there airstream that is coming from the lungs is blocked completely or partially by the active
articulators giving them to the airstream special qualities in the release, these are acoustic qualities. The resonators can be: nasal
cavity, oral cavity, pharyngeal cavity.)